So what happens to the Korean Wave now?
2012 seems to be the year for the spread of Korean pop culture with Psy’s global success and more people interested in Korean culture.
With more and more Korean events happening each month, it seems that the so called Hallyu spread is growing.
But what does this mean for Korean culture?
The government has sought to push pop culture as a way of marketing South Korea as a place to not only travel but also to invest. But this decision to push the Hallyu as the ‘face of Korea’ brings unexpected consequences.
Of course the political landscape of the Korean peninsula has seen the image usually associated with Korea as being a divided one. This division not only causes political and defence issues but also issues surrounding the image of South Korea.
Hence the push to promote the Hallyu or Korean Wave is one that generates not only global awareness of Korean pop culture but also raises revenue. The success of Psy has come out of the blue and it has made not only Psy but his label YG great revenue, which is also very helpful for the South Korean economy.
Some analysts have exclaimed that the rise of Psy equals the rise of South Korea’s brand image. Of course Psy has given a fun and energetic portrayal of the country but it seems Korean culture has become inexplicably linked with pop music.
But you could argue that the effect of Psy has been to reinforce the image that South Korean culture is linked to its pop culture.
This does not bode well for the South Korean music industry with its wide variety.
Will we ever see the likes of indie bands such as 10cm reaching the same levels of their K-pop counterparts? Or even making global waves and gaining recognition?
Unfortunately for me the answer is not anytime soon unless there is real change
What about the nation as a whole, can we safely say that South Korea has arrived on the world stage?
Yes and No
Yes, Psy has achieved global success and the eyes of the world are on him to see what he will do next. Furthermore South Korea as a nation has been steadily making waves on the international stage.
No, South Korea has arrived via its pop culture and more importantly its music machine. This is a small slice of the cultural industries present in the country. Furthermore the scope of K-pop is limited to a small demographic of people in these countries so its impact is not as far reaching as initially described.
Using London as an example, although there is a strong community of Korean enthusiasts the majority are young and interested in K-pop. Outside of this small bubble not many people have heard of groups such as Super Junior or 2NE1. Although Psy is somewhat famous, he will always be associated with Gangnam Style and his horse dance.
Korean cultural events seem to be occurring on a regular basis and there is always a large bevy of shows/exhibitions etc. to keep us interested each month in the UK.
Hallyu is spreading slowly but needs to change direction and showcase the vast array of culture that Korea has to offer.
Sure big names can draw large crowds and generating a high level of interest but the strategy should be on making sure that the spread of Korean culture happens through localised collaborations. This way the spread of culture is not just relegated to pop culture but also to other important and interesting cultural assets that South Korea has to offer.