Hallyu Report V – The impact

I. Korean image
Through drama and music, the image of Korea has attained greater exposure to the world-wide audience. Hallyu makes foreigners feel a close connection with Korea and gain a certain understanding about the lives of Koreans. The extensive spread of Korean cultural products naturally causes international audience to feel intrigued by other aspects of Korea besides the entertainment industry, hence a curiosity about Korean cuisine, fashion, or language. Additionally, historical dramas also trigger an interest in Korean history.

These days, Korean drama viewers from many countries can tell the names of a number of Korean important historical figures. They are also more inclined to try Korean food, learn Korean language, or pick Korea for their vacations. Korean fashion or makeup styles become a trend among the foreign fans, who know how to tie their winter scarves the way shown in “Winter Sonata”, or embrace Korean BB cream as a solution for a natural-looking make-up, among many examples. Needless to say, Hallyu enhances the image of Korea in the minds of overseas audience in a positive way that sparks an enthusiastic followership consisted of people who want to learn more about Korea, or who want to do things the Korean ways.

II. Economy

The widespread popularity of Korean culture has shown visible impacts on the domestic economy. In recent years, South Korea earns over a billion of U.S. dollars annually from entertainment exports. The rise of foreign visitors to South Korea, according to tourism officials, is partly attributed to Hallyu followers. Places like Coffee Prince shops or houses that appear in popular Korean dramas turn out to be favorite places for tourists who love Korean entertainment culture.

Travel agencies across  Asia and North America offer Korean package tours to filming locations. Chuncheon city – where the sensational drama “Winter Sonata” was filmed – is a notable case of a city that has significantly developed thanks to its transformed role as a popular tourist destination. The presence of online fandom also allows Korean entertainment businesses to promote with fewer costs and earn more revenue through the Internet, e.g. YouTube partnerships. Unsurprisingly, Korean cosmetics and technologies brands, especially those that employ Korean top celebrities as their endorsers, secure their share of commercial benefits thanks to the growing phenomenon.

III. Political relations

Besides the effects on Korean economy, political implications of the Hallyu successful international reach also emerged. The remarkable popularity of Korean entertainment industry has positively influenced the diplomatic relationships between South Korea and many countries. This influence is especially tangible for countries whose relationships with South Korea have been troublesome in the past. For instance, though Vietnam and South Korea established relations back in 1992, history reminds us that during Vietnam War, South Korean troops were sent to Vietnam, allying with American army, to fight against Vietnam Liberation Army.

In 2001, in a dinner hosted for Vietnamese former Prime Minister Tran Duc Luong, South Korea former President Kim Dae Jung invited actors Jang Gong-gun and actress Kim Nam-ju, who were well-liked Korean celebrities in Vietnam. Recently, Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) announced the decision to bring Music Bank, its famed Kpop program, to Vietnam in 2012 to celebrate 20th year anniversary of Vietnam-South Korea establishment of friendship ties. As another example, South Korea and Japan relationships went through rough times as Korea was under violent occupation of the Japanese in the early 1900s. At the beginning of 21th century, singer BoA was considered an icon of cultural exchange between Korea and Japan. The singer was invited to perform at the South Korea-Japan 2003 Summit Conference between South Korean’s former president Noh Moo Hyun and Japan’s former Prime Minister Koizumi. As South Korea and other countries are putting efforts into developing undisturbed diplomatic relations, the powerful Hallyu can take on a useful role.

Binh Nguyen,
a Vietnamese intern

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