As the world continues to ‘get smaller’ we learn to appreciate other cultures, especially through film. America brings us Hollywood, India produces Bollywood, Nigeria creates Nollywood and large parts of Asia indulge in the ‘Korean wave’.
Hallyu refers to the “new wave” of South Korean popular culture, its literal translation is ‘flow of Korea’. It consists of films, television shows, music, computer games, fashion and even food. Since the early 2000’s, Hallyu has bled into surrounding Asian countries, such as Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Forced cultural hybridisation has made a large majority of Japan reject South Korean culture, thus Hallyu. In Japan, the comic book Hyom-hallyu (Anti-Korean wave) has gained popularity. It is about a young student who discovers the harsh reality of South Korea, not typically depicted in the television dramas. South Korea borders with North Korea; a horrific dictatorship where corruption occurs as frequently as mass murders.
However, Korean Cinema reflects the nation in its entirety (alike Nollywood films). Korean Cinema is extremely violent, the storylines are often absurd with universal themes of family and revenge, usually with a disturbing twist.
‘Oldboy’ (Oldeuboi, 2003) is an accurate example of how emotionally and literally gruesome South Korean films can be. Hollywood tried to recreate the storyline for a Westernised audience with director, Spike Lee but failed to give the same effect.
Western audiences long for closure within the storyline as they often cannot fully grasp the obscurity of such films. Hollywood continues to reproduce already made Korean films in an attempt to achieve the same amount of success. However, the politics differ completely in regard to the United States and Korea. Thus, the film industries will differ as a result.
The film industry of a nation reveals much about the country itself, from its economy, to its political stance. Films and television are more than just something to consume, but something to study.
“Cinema is universal, beyond flags, and borders and passports.”
– Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Ryoo, Woongjae 2009, ‘Globalisation, or the logic of cultural hybridisation: the case of the Korean wave’, Asian journal of communication, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 137-151
- Rose, 2013, ‘Why Hollywood doesn’t get South Korean Cinema’, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/nov/29/old-boy-remake-south-korea-cinema
- Chung-a, 2006, ‘Hallyu phenomenon faces backlash in East Asia’, The Korea Times, http://international.ucla.edu/asia/article/37127
- ‘The Wave’ artwork – http://andreas.com/hokusai.html (however, personally modified)
- South Korean ‘Old Boy’ posters – http://www.koreanfilm.or.kr/jsp/films/index/filmsView.jsp?movieCd=20030350 (however, personally modified)
- American ‘Old Boy’ poster – http://www.filmaffinity.com/en/film930503.html (however, personally modified)
- South Korean flag – http://flagpedia.net/south-korea
- U.S flag – http://flaglane.com/download/american-flag/