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South Korean Soft Power

Nistha Sinha Writes: In the worldview, Asia is dominated by China, India and Japan in the race to become major powers. As the world obsesses over these countries, a smaller and less insignificant one has been making phenomenal progress economically despite being far smaller in size and might.

Nistha Sinha Writes: In the worldview, Asia is dominated by China, India and Japan in the race to become the major powers. As the world obsesses over these countries, a smaller and less insignificant one has been making phenomenal progress economically despite being far smaller in size and might. If one had predicted the future back in the 70s and 80s, no one would have imagined that an upright, progressive economy based on its pillars of soft powers could have achieved the economic success which the South Koreans have achieved. South Korea emerged like a phoenix out of the ashes of civil war and colonization, and focused on developing the road not taken by any other country, and today it now stands at a high economic platform.

The world was focused on the Arms race, nuclear power, military strength and developing their hard power after the Second World War, while South Korea successfully attained American investment in their education system and slowly but steadily worked towards economic development. Today, South Korea has surpassed Japan to be the trendsetter of Asia. From Samsung to Gangnam Style, Kimchi to Hyundai; South Korean ‘Hallyu’ has gone global. This global phenomenon is a product of a phase that Euny Hong in her book describes to be “the painful period between poverty and wealth”.

“ Hallyu” The Korean wave was a product of the Asian Financial Crisis that hit in 1997. It was then that Kim Dae Jung, the President, realised that it was time to look beyond the huge conglomerates and push the IT and content industries like film, video games and pop. Government funding and tax incentives were introduced and start-ups were given a push. The K-pop industry received large amounts of state funding due to which today it holds a significant share of the Hallyu fever.

The K-pop industry wasn’t always the fancy, high budgeted powerhouse that it is today. In the early 80s the music industry was chained to many restrictions ranging from censorship to budget constraints. But, after the shift in policy and outlook of the government and with the help of the state funding, K-pop industry was able to reach the level of popularity it has today. It has bridged the gap between the world as few of the strongest fan bases of K-pop can be found across the world including the Middle East, Europe and United States of America. K-pop which is often multilingual (Japanese, English, Chinese) has also brought about cultural collaborations within Asia.

Korean films and dramas also cater to a worldwide audience stretched across France, Turkey, India and many other countries. It is not only for entertainment and expression but is also used as a tool to promote Korean culture, lifestyle and attract tourists. And by far this has been one of the key player in putting them as a worthwhile destination in the world map. The South Koreans have set an example for the world to emulate, in terms of growth and development based on soft power and the colossal sustenance.

 

 

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