International Communication Gazette | 2019

Transnationalism, cultural flows, and the rise of the Korean Wave around the globe



The Korean Wave—the sudden growth of local cultural industries and the penetration of Korean popular culture and digital technologies—in the global market has continued to grow. As recent global stardom of several K-pop idol groups, including BTS, Black Pink, and EXO clearly indicates, Hallyu is a global phenomenon, not a regional trend. Starting around 1997, the Korean Wave firstly penetrated the Asian region. Later, in the 2010s, the local cultural industries have attracted many global fans with their unique cultural products, including film, television programs, animation, and popular music (K-pop), which are mostly hybrid between the global and the local forces, and digital technologies, such as smartphones, free mobile instant messengers (e.g., Kakao Talk and Line), and digital games. The recent growth of Korean popular culture around the globe has ignited a new level of discussion of transnationalization of popular culture, because the Korean Wave might play a key role in shifting the cultural map that a few Western countries, in particular the U.S., have dominated with their advanced and blockbuster-style production. Korea has indeed become one of the top nonWestern countries that meaningfully exports almost all of its cultural forms, to both Western and non-Western countries. Although there are several other countries that have penetrated the global markets with their cultural products, they export only limited cultural products (e.g., Telenovelas from Mexico and Brazil and Bollywood movies by India). The burgeoning global presence of diverse Korean cultural products has been unprecedented. Unlike other countries’ cross-overs with one cultural form, Hallyu has achieved, though not yet fully, this cross-over, known as transnationalization, with cultural products (Jin, 2016). Transnationalization can be described as ‘a condition by which people, commodities, and ideas cross national boundaries and are not identified with a single place of origin’ (Watson, 1997: 11). However, with the rapid growth of information and

Volume 81
Pages 117 - 120
DOI 10.1177/1748048518802911
Language English
Journal International Communication Gazette

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