In recent years, South Korean culture has become a critical and commercial success. Its appeal has spread worldwide, notably the immense popularity of K-pop. When most people think of Korean pop culture, they think of Psy, the singer behind the world-wide smash ‘Gangnam Style’. However, South Korea has much more to offer us.
South Korean cinema is becoming increasingly popular in neighbouring Asian countries, and is also proving successful in international film festivals. South Korean cinema has become a major export and as a result, has become the seventh largest film market in the world. The films often contain dark elements regarding the problems people face in modern-day South Korean society, including family issues and love. These themes have proven popular with audiences around the world, and have led to several South Korean films earning a cult following. One of South Korea’s most prolific films is Old Boy, a bloody revenge movie starring Choi Min‑sik.
South Korea, historically speaking, has been more concerned about fending off cultural domination by China and Japan, than in spreading its own culture abroad. However, South Korea has nonetheless emerged as Asia’s pop culture leader (Ryoo 2009). South Korean cinema is important in reforming the identity of East Asia.
Kim 2010 argues “South Korean media is an outgrowth of South Korea’s struggle for cultural continuity against the threat of global cultural domination”. This marks back to the division of Korea into two separate states, and the close ties South Korea has had historically with Japan and the United States. South Korea attempts to secure its own culture within the entertainment industry, and break away from the cultural domination of other countries in Asia and the West. This leads to South Korean cinema being enjoyed in countries outside Korea and South Korean culture being more accessible throughout the world today.
Kim, H, 2010. South Korean Cinema and Hybridity of East Asian Identity: A study of South Korean cinema’s place in (re)construction of East Asian identity. CreateSpace.
Ryoo, W, 2009. Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave. Asian Journal of Communication, [Online]. 19, 137-151. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01292980902826427?scroll=top&needAccess=true [Accessed 22 August 2016].