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East Asian Pop Culture

East Asian Pop Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave

Chua Beng Huat
Koichi Iwabuchi
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    East Asian Pop Culture
    Book Description:

    The International group of contributors of this volume provides, collectively, a multi-layered analysis of the emerging East Asian media culture, using the Korean TV drama as its analytic vehicle. By closely examining the political economy of TV industry, audiences of the regional media flows in terms of gender subjectivity constructions, perceptions of colonial-postcolonial relationships, and nationalist responses to trans-national media culture exchanges, this volume highlights the multiple connectivities and implications of popular cultural flows and exchanges in East Asia. In spite of the obvious flows and exchanges that constitute pan-East Asian Pop Culture as a relatively coherent unit, the academic research community is far behind the cultural industry producers who have long factored the regional consumer market into their production and marketing. This volume is motivated by the need to find both the conceptual and institutional site(s) for the constitution of an East Asian Pop Culture. The resulting discoveries demonstrate that this culture co-exists with US domination in global media industry, and offers new empirical and conceptual insights into cultural globalization which cannot be ascertained in existing US-centric analyses.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-22-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: East Asian TV Dramas: Identifications, Sentiments and Effects
    (pp. 1-12)
    Chua Beng Huat and Koichi Iwabuchi

    In an anthology published in 1995 with the title, ‘to be continued … Soap Operas around the world’ (Allen 1995), the only Asian country that rated an entry (Rofel 1995) was an analysis of the People Republic of China (PRC) TV’s drama, ‘Yearning’ (渴望, fifty episodes, 1990), a melodrama credited as marking ‘the maturity of soap opera as a full-blown Chinese genre’ (Lu 2001:215).¹ The date of the production and screening of this melodrama shows us that the PRC is a very new entrant in this genre of media entertainment. Thus, the absence of analysis of this genre in other...

  6. I Television Industry in East Asia

    • 1 The Growth of Korean Cultural Industries and the Korean Wave
      (pp. 15-32)
      Doobo Shim

      Since the 1980s, Korea had been under daunting bilateral (largely from the United States) and multilateral pressures to open its markets, in the name of globalization, in various sectors including the cinema and television. These global economic dynamics influenced Korea Inc.’s industrial formations. While taking on the defensive, the Korean economy began to promote production and commodification of media and cultural content, including film, television programming, animation, etc., against the backdrop of the worldwide diffusion of “information society” discourses. The media liberalization measures, also pushed for by citizens who were fed up with long years of state control of the...

    • 2 Renting East Asian Popular Culture for Local Television: Regional Networks of Cultural Production
      (pp. 33-52)
      Tania Lim

      The rise of a visible circulation of East Asian popular culture from fashion, music, film, comics, to television dramas, has an impact on our everyday lives in East Asia. English-language and non-English language newspapers, magazines, talk shows, online gossip and entertainment news are often filled with stories about Asian celebrities or stars involved in various films, music videos or television drama productions. This signals both the increased marketing prowess that media corporations are attaining, mostly through ‘renting’ or borrowing icons or the most significant or representative figures, shows, styles or ideas, simply to turn a profit like any enterprise but...

    • 3 Mediating Nationalism and Modernity: The Transnationalization of Korean Dramas on Chinese (Satellite) TV
      (pp. 53-70)
      Lisa Leung

      News has been out recently that some kindergartens in USA are teaching Mandarin to American kids. Footage of American kids writing Chinese characters is the finest epitome of the extent of cultural global flows (and hybridity) at our era of intense media and cultural circulation. Ultra-forward-looking parents commented: ‘By the time these kids grow up, China would be a world economic power, so knowing how to speak and write Chinese is a definite plus in enhancing their employment prospects.’ That China is a goldmine, an untapped vast market that is set to steal the international limelight to some extent also...

  7. II Transnational-Crosscultural Receptions of TV Dramas

    • 4 Structure of Identification and Distancing in Watching East Asian Television Drama
      (pp. 73-90)
      Chua Beng Huat

      Flows of television drama series across national, cultural and linguistic boundaries in East Asia are by now a routine affair. The presence of imported TV programmes in every urban location within the region is now so ubiquitous that they are no longer ‘remarkable’ as they have become part of the daily diet of television audiences throughout the region. This ‘East Asian’ media space has been ‘characterized as a self-aware but non-consensual force field articulated by the region’s mixed postcolonial experiences, negotiation with globalization, and interacting media cultures’ (Tsai 2005: 102), with uneven and unequal directions of flows. The predominantly ethnic-Chinese...

    • 5 Re-Imagining a Cosmopolitan ‘Asian Us’: Korean Media Flows and Imaginaries of Asian Modern Femininities
      (pp. 91-126)
      Angel Lin and Avin Tong

      The new millennium witnessed increasing transnational flow of Korean popular cultural content including TV dramas, movies and pop songs and Korean stars have been remarkably well received in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other East and Southeast Asian societies. This sudden frenzy about Korean pop culture in Asia has been regionally dubbed ‘the Korean Wave’ (‘Hallyu’). While Hallyu has aroused critical response from both public and intellectual discourses, pointing to legitimate concerns about the potential rise of Korean cultural domination in Asia (alongside the long-existing popular cultural influences of Japanese and Western media), Lin, Kwan and Cheung (2004) pointed out...

    • 6 Winter Sonata and Cultural Practices of Active Fans in Japan: Considering Middle-Aged Women as Cultural Agents
      (pp. 127-142)
      Yoshitaka Mōri

      On the day before Christmas Eve in 2003, I visited my parents in Tokyo. My mother, 65 years old, suggested that we should watch a TV drama together, by saying cheerfully that the hero was so handsome and the story was so romantic and so on. This was my first encounter with a Korean drama, Winter Sonata.

      I was a little bit confused by her suggestion, as I have not watched any TV dramas with her since I left home at the age of nineteen. To my knowledge, she has never been a big fan of TV home dramas, as...

    • 7 Touring ‘Dramatic Korea’: Japanese Women as Viewers of Hanryu Dramas and Tourists on Hanryu Tours
      (pp. 143-156)
      Yukie Hirata

      Korean pop culture has been spreading since the end of the 1990s, and the big boom of the Korean drama, Winter Sonata, brought a cultural and social phenomenon called the Korean Wave, or Hanryu, to Japan in 2004.² As of 2005, Korean pop culture seems to have definitely taken root in Japan, and it is diversifying and changing. Examination of the Korean Wave indicates that media goods as well as people are moving across borders. The number of Japanese who traveled to Korea in 2004 recorded a growth of 35.5 percent compared to the previous year; people who are traveling...

    • 8 Popular Cultural Capital and Cultural Identity: Young Korean Women’s Cultural Appropriation of Japanese TV Dramas
      (pp. 157-172)
      Dong-Hoo Lee

      In 2004, the Korean government finally wrapped up the program that it had begun in 1998 of unlocking its doors to Japanese popular culture. It removed restrictions on Japanese movies and songs that had been previously banned to those under the age of 17, especially Japanese TV dramas that can now be accessed via cable or satellite TV channels. It took six years for the Korean government to completely generate its policy of openness towards Japanese popular culture, reversing a decades-old ban that had been in place since its liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

      Although the inflow of...

  8. III Nationalistic Reactions

    • 9 Mapping Out the Cultural Politics of “the Korean Wave” in Contemporary South Korea
      (pp. 175-190)
      Keehyeung Lee

      This chapter deals with the so-called “Korean wave” or Hanryu as a highly complex and multilayered formation that is composed of real, imagined, and hybrid cultural practices, a diverse range of lived experiences, and sets of powerful discourses which exist at national, translocal, and transnational levels. By Hanryu or the Korean wave, I refer to the varied and uneven reception process of South Korean cultural/media products and images in Asia as well as particular forms of media and cultural representations in the transborder flows of South Korean popular culture in South Korea. Although Hanryu texts and images are produced and...

    • 10 Rap(p)ing Korean Wave: National Identity in Question
      (pp. 191-216)
      Fang-chih Irene Yang

      The recent popularity of Korean dramas in East Asia in recent years has been described by the media as the “Korean wave,” and in Taiwan as “the invasion of the Korean wave” (hanliu laixi). This chapter unpacks the meanings of “the invasion of the Korean wave” by examining three genres of public discourses on the Korean wave. Public discourses presume different addressees and adhere to different cultural, rhetorical, and stylistic conventions to evoke affect and assemble different publics. In this chapter, I point out that the most dominant genre of the public discourse on the Korean wave articulates globalization with...

    • 11 Existing in the Age of Innocence: Pop Stars, Publics, and Politics in Asia
      (pp. 217-242)
      Eva Tsai

      Although it is not without historical precedences, the 1990s and 2000s have seen a heightened effort by cultural promoters in Asia to bring together big and familiar names from the region to make and market a variety of media and cultural commodities. In 2004, Pepsi put nine popular Hong Kong and Taiwan stars in a multi-market, region-wide advertising campaign. Around the same time, hallyu, or the Korean Wave, marshaled a new breed of Asian-Korean celebrities. The entertainment pages in Asia’s major newspapers and magazines contain a flurry of stories and images of pop stars from close and distant neighbors making...

    • 12 When the Korean Wave Meets Resident Koreans in Japan: Intersections of the Transnational, the Postcolonial and the Multicultural
      (pp. 243-264)
      Koichi Iwabuchi

      In the last decade, East Asian media flows and connections have intensified. Media markets have rapidly expanded and transnational partnerships have been closely formed among media corporations which pursue marketing strategies and joint production ventures spanning several different markets. The circulation of popular culture is no longer limited to the national borders but finds a broader transnational acceptance in the region, leading to the formation of new links among people in East Asia, especially the youth. This trend has shown no sign of letting up. Asian markets have become even more synchronized, East Asian co-projects in film and music have...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 265-278)
  10. References
    (pp. 279-304)
  11. Index
    (pp. 305-308)