The reality of Korean Pop or Hallyu ( Wave )

Chalamba Kshetri *

Most of the Manipuri teenage groups, notably ( 13 - 25 ) years worship K- Pop of the so-called Korean Wave. Korean T.V dramas or K-Idol Groups is the major thing that they had a craze about. From imitating their hairstyle, temperament or fashion, Korean Wave ( Hallyu ) has directly hit the hearts of the Manipuri Youths.

Still, How many of our teens or adolescent analyse actually, What is Korean Wave? Or their realness? which they had so much craze about. It is a question which needs to be put forward by the young teen spirits.

The fondness or acceptance which they had shown to K- Wave is quite a thing. On the other side, the real reason why I write this article is that, If there is an outer world then definitely there tend to exist the inner image. My attempt is to expose or tell the narrative of the Korean Wave which were less interested or unheard of by the Masses.

In association with this topic, I polled some of my colleagues, K- Pop admirer to notice exactly about their subject matter or the thought cycle. I asked one of my friends, ' Bhai nang K- Pop yamna ngaorise karigino'? answering to my question she replied, ' Makhoigi Fashion, Romantic impulses, exotic beauties sing yamna pamjei, ei Korea Chatning ngi ! '

Majority of my colleagues put on a similar response or tone just like her. I let out that, K- Wave is an Economic Exportation or skilful utilisation of Entertainment Industries as a tool to influence their Cultural Phenomenon to the rest of the World.

Ironically, they reacted to me like, ' Pammadi pamme, nangna khangda tourini phajaba makheidi Korea da loi leire'. Afterwards, I realized we the adolescents need to learn a lot of general consciousness or task on the so-called Korean Pop or Hallyu.

What is K - Pop or Hallyu?

The Korean Wave or Hallyu refers to the global popularity of South Korea's Cultural Economy exporting Pop Culture, Entertainment, Music, TV dramas and Beauty. Hallyu is a Chinese term which means ' Korean Wave ' which describes the growing popularity of the South Korean Entertainment industry around the World.

South Korea is one of the only countries in the world, if not the only one, that has a dedicated goal to become the world's leading exporter of popular culture. Hallyu first spread to China and Japan, later to South East Asia and several countries worldwide. South Korea's broadcast authorities had sent delegates to promote their TV programs and Cultural content in several countries.

Hallyu has been a blessing for Korea, it's business, culture, and country image. Since 1999, Hallyu has become one of the biggest cultural phenomena across Asia. The Hallyu effect has been tremendous, contributing to 0.2℅ of Korea GDP in 2004, that is approximately USD 1.87 billion. In 2014, Hallyu had an estimated USD 11.6 billion boosts on the Korean Economy.

Over the last two decades, South Korea has become very rich and futuristic. In 1965, Korea's GDP, per capita was less than that of Ghana. Today, South Korea is the World 12th largest economy.

Origins of Korean Wave ( Hallyu )-

Korean Media has attributed the origins of Hallyu to a couple of movies and TV soaps that were released in 1999. ' Swiri', an inspiring movie about North Korea and South Korean espionage released in 1999, gave Hallyu the public face as it became hugely successful across South East Asian countries.

Later a soap opera called " Autumn in my heart" in 2000. These were followed by " My Sassy Girl" in 2001 and " Winter Sonata" in 2004.

All of these became very popular not only in Korea but also in Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam. The success of these entertainment products created a big wave about the exploding popularity of Korean Culture. Regional Media sources were utilized to pick up and announced the birth of Hallyu.

Role of the Asian Financial Crisis -

In 1997, The Thai Government decided against pegging it's the local currency against the US dollar and it sent the Asian market into a tailspin. The 'Tiger Economies' of the Asian region which were hopeful of the impressive growth rates at the time began facing a serious setback as a result of the Thai Government decision.

The region had a high level of foreign direct investment because of its giant export economies. This led to rising real estate values, corporate spending, and also large public infrastructure projects which were largely funded by heavy borrowing from banks.

This system of available investors and easy lending often meant reduced investment quality and the cracks started to show in these economies. The Federal Reserve started hiking interest rates to combat inflation, which made Asian export less attractive and led to less foreign investment.

The Thai decision was the final effects. Currency traders attacked the Thai baht's peg to the USD, and the baht was devalued. This led to currency devaluation in South East and East Asia which decrease the stock market, reduced import revenue and Government upheaval. South Korea was also facing the same outcome.

The South Korean Government had negotiated the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ) in 1997 to grant $ 12 billion bailouts. They had also negotiated the loan from the World Bank, The Asian Development Bank, which resulted in a total amount of $ 55 billion loans packages to payback.

After that, The South Korean Government used the money to restore its depleted foreign currency reserve and re-establish the financial system.

Role of the South Korean Government Policy -

After taking the loan, President Kim Dae Jung chooses the Entertainment Industry as a growth engine and set up the Korean Creative Content Agency. His Government also injected funding into the Korean Film Council to promote Pop Culture. Various Government Ministries including the Food, Foreign Affairs, Sports and Tourism Ministries put money into the industry.

The Culture Ministry allocated a whopping $ 10 billion budget for Cultural Industry. Korean government industries promote K-pop culture around the world. The Korean Tourism Organization does not limit the Korean Culture to only K-pop and Drama.

They had spread and influenced Korean foods, products, language, and a particular lifestyle. This is a fact that the Korean Wave was meant to preserve Korean Culture and a strategy to pay off the amount of the loan of $5 billion to IMF, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank.

Techniques, Influence and Process utilized for competing in Global Arena-

1) Costume and Colour -

One of the things K -pop utilized is the creative use of costumes and colour in music videos. Use of effects, make-up, outfits are always in service to a greater theme and vision.

2) Fashion -

K-pop stars bring a whole new concept to fashion. Their real-life outfits and styles surpass western stars in intensity and originality. Everything is focused on clothing and fashion with the notion of attracting the audience.

3) Choreography -

Choreography is another area where K-pop artist completely dominate. Groups not only sing and dance, but they also perform routines so complicated and challenging, they would usually require truly professional dancers.

Not only does this take an insane amount of hard work, but practice and skills by K-pop artist are also well known for performing these routines live - proving they are truly skilled, not just well-edited in their music videos.

4) Training -

Unlike young western pop stars who often grow famous in a short period of time, K- Pop artist is usually groomed and mentored by managers or agents for years at a time before recording their first song.

BTS Impact-

The seven members of the Korean boy band BTS- " Bangton Sonyeondan " in Korean or " Beyond the Scene" in English has become an international sensation since their debut in 2013. Their popularity has spread from South Korea around the globe. According to the Hyundai Research Institute, the band is estimated to bring more than $3.6 billion into the South Korean economy annually.

BTS is to date the most successful manifestation of the Korean Wave Phenomenon of Korean pop cultural exports such as K-pop, soap operas and films. BTS has contributed massively to the South Korean National Economy.

In addition to sales of Music, Merchandise and Concerts tickets, this figure also reflects the added number of tourists who will visit South Korea because of their interest in the band.

In 2017, it was estimated that around 800,000 toured to South Korea or about 7 p.c of all arrivals were motivated to visit the country because of their interest in BTS. This is the reality of Korean Wave or Hallyu. They utilized their culture as a weapon to boom their economy.

* Chalamba Kshetri wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at chalambakshetrimayum3(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 07, 2020.

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