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The Seoul Of Korea

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The Korean rapper Psy nearly broke the Internet as the video for his song “Gangnam Style” racked up more than 2 billion views. We’ll talk this hour about how South Korea is attempting to become a superpower by taking over the world of entertainment with Euny Hong. She writes about the strategy in The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture (Picador).

  • marcyt

    I was really looking forward to this show today as I have a keen interest in Hallyu. I’m going to get this book and read it with a great deal of interest. Hallyu is a fascinating thing and even here in North Texas we have a growing Korean community. Check out HMart in Carrollton sometime. It’s a fabulous Korean/Asian grocery store that is open 24/7, 365 days a year and has a Korean food court where you can try some very traditional dishes.

    I was disappointed that Ms Hong didn’t really address the fan issue Laura brought up. Stars aren’t just “dialoguing with fans” and doing “old-fashioned autographs”, they hold fan meeting where thousands of fans come to get an autograph and hand shake. They will stand in line for hours. Fan meetings are not only huge, they cost fans a lot of money and generate a lot of income. Some fans are so intensely into their favorite idols that they really believe the idols love them and care about them. Fans will spend thousands of dollars not only on merchandise but on sending food trucks to kdrama filming sites and to kpop music video sites. I know of a fan group for an actor/singer that collected over $1500 to buy him a birthday present when he said there was something he wanted from Europe. When you read the comments on facebook and twitter on the idols’ fan pages, the fans express undying love and believe that their idol will some day come to their country/city because “X loves us. We are his fans, he believes in us as we believe in him. He will never let us down.” I was hoping Ms Hong would talk about this because it’s one of the most fascinating aspects of Hallyu for me.

    While there are no gossip magazines in Korea, they do have the internet and they use it to gossip about idols, to track their movements. When an idol goes to the airport or leaves her house or eats lunch at a hotel with a co-star or goes to a salon to get his hair done, hundreds of photos of the moment show up on Weibo and Line, which are Asian-based services. Once the photos are up in either or both, they are posted on facebook and twitter within minutes. I belong to a group where Weibo photos are posted of a particular actor almost every day and are posted into the facebook group with demands that we not repost or share the photos, they have been provided just for us, his “dear fans”. Scandals are something else that are great fodder for gossip. Spend time on or or any site that provides news about Korean idols and you’ll see how much gossip is very much a part of idol culture and Hallyu culture. Park Bom, a singer with the group 2NE1, just weathered a particularly distressing “scandal” that to Americans would be nothing, but it has hurt her career in Korea. Luckily for her, she is so popular in other countries that it should only be a blip, but it cost her participation in an on-going Korean reality show, Roommate. Gossip fuels fandom, especially with speculation about romantic relationships and scandals.

    Books like this will help to spread the fun of Hallyu and I hope Ms Hong has great success with it. As Korean culture becomes more popular in the US, I look foward to more discussions like this. 🙂