Author: Low Jie Jane
Editor: Sharon Tang Kah Yee
Once again, Korean film created another history in their film industry. Youn Yuh-Jung, a South Korean film icon, won the most recent best-supporting actress Oscar. This is another achievement that the Korean film industry has never reached before and has created a history in the Korean film industry. Youn Yuh-Jung, a 73 years old actor is the first South Korean actor actress to win an Oscar and the first actor actress from that nation ever to clinch an Academy Award nomination.
After Parasite made history by winning the biggest prize in Hollywood, despite being a non-English language film from South Korea in the year 2020. The Korean film industry does not seem like they want to end their glory story there. Moreover, South Korean pop culture also has grown in prominence to become a major driver of global culture.
All these achievements make us wonder, where is the limit of the growth of Hallyu; will there be a downfall for the histories they achieved all these times? The answer is, maybe? But not that soon.
Not just a “wave”
Hallyu has been building for two decades, but K-pop, in particular, has become increasingly visible to global audiences in the past year around the globe. The starter points where K Waves grow rapidly is where South Korean artists have hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart at least eight times since the Wonder Girls first cracked it in 2009 with their hit song “Nobody”. A song that was released in four different languages including English has ballooned South Korea’s music industry to the global stage.
In the music industry, South Korea's film industry has also achieved incredible achievement. The film Parasite, from South Korea, made history by winning the biggest prize in Hollywood. Its successful box office run in U.S cinemas proved that Western audiences might be ready for subtitled movies. But Parasite wasn’t the first Korean film to make waves in the world of cinema. Since the ’90s in the era known as the Korean New Wave, South Korea has had a cinematic boom.
All the achievements created by the South Korea Entertainment industry proved that this is not only a wave. Perhaps, it should be renamed as “K Tsunami '' but in a good way.
Simple culture marketing
South Korea understands the importance of being globally relevant without discounting their patriotic, homegrown roots and talents. It is undeniable that South Koreans have so meticulously blended western influences with their home influences. It is not hard to notice that entertainment decisions like title tracks of K Dramas or hook words of K-pop intentionally have English words.
Although South Korea has a great number of Western influences, they never forget their roots and promote their home culture on the big screen especially after all the achievements they achieved in recent years.
Their art tactfully weaves ingrained habits and culture like always taking off shoes before entering a house, respecting elders while drinking, weekend fried chicken and more. Not surprisingly, they also make sure to put due focus on local brands. As a global K-pop fan, you might even know all the brands or be able to speak a few Korean words without visiting the country.
The kind of sacrosanct reverence South Korean have for their culture is the base of this potential trillion-dollar industry. If you belong from a non-English speaking country and when talking to the world about your art, do you talk in English or proudly continue in your mother tongue even if you know the language like a lot of Korean celebrities? They don’t trade accessibility with their cultural exclusivity. And the kind of preservation value for one’s heritage is so beautifully rare. When you sell something you truly believe and love, you don’t really have to sell it. Do you?
Fun facts, if you understand Korean economical history well, you will understand why Korean a sense of patriotism in them. They are the group of people willing to sell their personal wealth, such as gold to save the country's economy. If you are in their situation, will you do so?