Is South Korea the Coolest Place on Earth?

Author and Wall Street Journal Online columnist Jeff Yang wrote a piece published by CNN Opinion in which he posits that South Korea, no longer Hong Kong or Japan, is the Asian nation at the center of cultural cool.

So, is Korea cool du jour or can Korea kewl stay even after school?

That’s a question Euny Hong addresses in her new book, “The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture.”

“I think it can,” she says. “The difference between cool Korea and earlier Asian pop culture waves is that Korea has been working to make this happen for almost two decades. Korea is cool because it decided to be cool — it’s the first country in history that has made being cool a massive policy priority, backed by the Korean government to the tune of billions of dollars.”

The fact is, the machine of Korean pop culture is as sleekly designed, systematically engineered and massively marketed as any Samsung gadget. It’s not just a gigantic money-making industry, it’s also the primary source of “soft power” by which the nation seeks to shorten its path from war-torn, third-world country to the top ranks of world influencers.

“Koreans have a deep-seated desire to see the nation recognized and validated,” Hong says. “We study harder than anyone in the world, we work more hours, and it’s all because of this need to see us finally come on top.”

Jeff Yang continues,

Japanese cool is quirky, the sum of the nation’s eccentricities. Hong Kong cool is frenetic, representative of the society’s freewheeling striving spirit. American cool is casual: It’s cool that’s anchored in doing without trying, it’s about being quintessentially effortless.

By contrast, Korean cool could not be more effort-ful.

…and in illustrating his point, he diverges with mine:

The hypnotic appeal of K-pop videos are not just their candy-colored, otherworldly aesthetic, it’s also because their performers — sometimes numbering in the dozens — are invariably dancing in perfect sync, with a level of precision possible only because candidates for K-pop glory are recruited as adolescents and trained for years in groups that are required to live, take classes, eat, sleep and rehearse together until they’ve achieved a transcendent level of harmony.

“It all underscores the fact that the rise of Korean cool was hardly an accident — and that it could well have staying power.”

It can if, like those technocrats in a planned economy, the pop culture makers can continue to guess right or throw money at marketing or throw increasingly more money at marketing their mistakes.  History’s lessons are full of semi-successful-for-three-years five-year plans doomed after so many succeeding and less successful five year plans ran those ministries into the dust heap.

The forced analogy makes me wonder, can cool be dictated by the decidedly uncool?  I have commented often (as recently as today) on the long-term faptastic mistake that I think the femmebot, (shall we say) compliant sort of K-pop that the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) subsidizes for export is.  At best the girl groups will be laughingly remembered in dorm rooms as their target cohort matures into university students.  At worst, they will resuscitate a hard-lost image of objectified Asian women.  All the while the corporativism that is the alliance between the MCST and the Ministry’s preferred big entertainment companies are missing Korea’s vibrant and talent laden hip-hop, rap, and dance scene

OK, so the author and I disagree about what is cool and even whether Korea can stay the  (as pronounced with a long ‘e’) it girl after the carriage turns into a pumpkin.   As things stand he and the ministry are right, and the validity of my opinion is yet to be determined.  Still Jeff Yang hit upon a larger, more important trend in Korea, though he missed the forest for the trees:  Korea’s MCST is writing the how-to manual for emerging countries to market themselves and project their soft power.

Brand Korea, which I sometimes use derisively, is a self-marketing juggernaut.  Korea’s branding prowess extends far beyond pop culture.   For example,  Korea recently gained recognition for Namhansanseong as a UNESCO world heritage site, which brings Korea’s total to  an impressive 11.  The Korean marketing machine is the real story here.

Read Jeff Yang’s full opinion piece at CNN.com

UPDATE:  I found an article, Korean Cool Is The Ultimate National Marketing Ploy written by Euny Hong, author of the above cited book in Newsweek Online.  She provides a brief, interesting bit of why:

“Very few countries have ever attempted to sell their pop culture to the United States. Even Japan didn’t try,” says Lee Moon-won, one of Korea’s most prominent cultural critics. So why would Korea focus its efforts on popular culture? Why not stick to cars and semiconductors?

The answer lies partly in the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-1998, which left the country economically crippled, forcing the government to request a $57-billion loan from the IMF. The crisis exposed a huge fault line in the Korean economy: it was too dependent on the nation’s chaebols….  The government of then-president Kim Dae-jung realised it had to diversify.

…Was the president out of his mind? Building a pop culture export industry from scratch during a financial crisis seems like bringing a Frisbee instead of food to a desert island. …The creation of pop culture, Dae-jung argued, doesn’t require a massive infrastructure; all you really need is time and talent.

Read the rest of her article here.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    Well-said, AJ. Yes, Korea is cool. Seoul and Busan are especially cool. My fair city of Suwon is even pretty damn cool as far as satellite cities go. But Korea needs to stop trying so hard and telling everyone how cool they are. The Fonz didn’t brag or overdue it. He just was cool. Word got around.

    As for Hong in the article, the gov’t backing companies that use slave contracts and are complicit with casting couches is NOT cool. Very uncool indeed.

  • gbnhj

    Korea is cool because it decided to be cool — it’s the first country in history that has made being cool a massive policy priority, backed by the Korean government to the tune of billions of dollars.

    The Korean government has definitely endeavored to promote Korean culture overseas, but Hong’s high if she thinks that the Korean government has spent billions of dollars over the last two decades to promote Korea as being a ‘cool’ place.

  • redwhitedude

    So Korea is taking a page out of American marketing except it involves Government encouragement unlike US in its pop culture?

  • bigmamat

    I think Americans would find a lot to like about Korea. Kpop isn’t one of them. I don’t want to get into a debate about American pop culture and Kpop. I’ll just admit up front that Americans are at least dedicated to the illusion that much of our pop culture is organically grown. Kpop with it’s blatant mercantilism shatters that illusion. There are other reasons I think Kpop doesn’t work for mass consumption in the US. The more kpop strives to appeal to more people the more it becomes less appealing. I suppose Koreans haven’t observed that a lot of our pop culture icons are really messy people. Americans have a cultural aversion to the homogeneous even though we have plenty of people who call for more of it. Kpop even fumbles it’s attempts to insert English into the genre. It’s marketing strategy is geared toward kids. American parents won’t like kpop any better than they have other genres. Not once they find out how it’s produced. I think the Korean government is wasting money if they devote any of it to promoting Kpop. Let it succeed or fail outside of Korea on it’s own. I think kpop does well in other parts of Asia. Korea can be thankful for that.

  • redwhitedude

    BTW doesn’t sound like Korea is the new kid in the block begging for attention?

  • redwhitedude

    Some of the misfires in marketing are embarrassing and cringe inducing.

  • redwhitedude

    Well if you are talking about Kpop and Americans there is a cultural differences as well. The clumsy English part clearly shows that it isn’t going to fly very well to the American crowd. I’d make a comparison between some of the more prominent Kpop groups with say One Direction. Also as you noted the trying to hard part is an utter put off. As to those people driving this “promotion” I’d say just take what they give you.

    The irony is the government involvement in this “promotion” mirrors NK forcing their propaganda.

  • redwhitedude

    The newsweek article does bring up another point. How popular culture is thought off as exports in much the same way that cars are exported. It is thought of as boxes that you sell from a store. I’m not sure if that is a good approach to reduce it as an item to export and make money just like exporting cars. This sort of thing such as music, tv programs, and movies should be though off differently than just boxes that you sell.

    Also it seems there is a oligopolistic tendency in Korea seeing that in Kpop there is the big three with JYP, SM, and YG. These tend to hog up time in music programs from the KBS, MBC, and SBS. I guess that gangnam style song could have easily been chaebol style.

  • bumfromkorea

    Billions of wons, maybe?

  • RElgin

    The products of JYP, SM, et al., are Korean only because the management is Korean. Their intent is to create, for a multi-national market, a musical product – one that has little to do with Korean culture. The music chaebol use writing and arranging talent from all over though the lyrics are in Korean. If one looks at the music itself, the way lyrics and phrases in current pop tunes are constructed, they have more in common with the forms found in American and European music than the “gayo” from the early part of the 20th Century, when the the song form or it phrase structure came from the Korean lyric.

    The image of their products looks Korean but is more pan-Asian than Korean.
    Perhaps the k-pop industry has done what the haughty Chinese could and can not do – create a successful pan-Asian image.

    Thank God it doesn’t involve Jesus either.

  • A Korean

    Korea, well, Seoul, is awesome cool. Check this out:

    http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=shm&sid1=102&sid2=257&oid=003&aid=0006007680

    Apparently, it’s a gigantic electronic message board plastered onto the city hall where people can send their message for display.

    You know what would take it over the top? Hook it up to display a random rotation of comments on Navers, Daum, and, oh yes, Ilbe.

  • redwhitedude

    So Kpop is more about marketing than content? I guess they took a page from american advertising. That is the marketing part of it not as much in content. They key difference between China and Korea is that in Korea the entities that do this are private entities, JYP, SM and so forth as opposed to the chinese government who doesn’t seem to get it and the government tries to create this.

  • redwhitedude

    The least they could do is plaster it away from the entrance. Just entering the building you are going under the girl. That would bother me.

  • A Korean

    Your misogyny is profoundly disturbing to me.

  • redwhitedude

    How is it misogyny if I am commenting about proper placement of the image of the girl.

  • redwhitedude

    No matter how you put it. Being bordered by North Korea is uncool.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Why?

  • redwhitedude

    1. It’s been a long day for me.
    2. Going under a member of the opposite sex is bothersome. Even if its just an image or display.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    Korea is cool because Samsung and Hyundai. Nobody is struggling in the rice field with mud in the face. People are working hard and producing high-tech machines. Tech and money, it is cool. But soon, all this will be over. SK will go down. Koreans do not know what is coming. War and subjugation to China. Koreans have brought this upon themselves. No one to blame. Nobody is saying “anti-Japan attitude is pro-China attitude” which is so clear to me. Many Korean want to use this Anti-Japan tune as the mobilizing song for Koreans, both SKs and NKs. But, this song will only bring misery and poverty. And, the slave status for Koreans. Koreans are singing it right now.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Because you can look up her non-human, two-dimensional skirt? Because you are offended to be placed below a member of the inferior sex? Because you think she might fall on you? Because you think that actually placing (images of) women on pedestals is a step too far?

  • Loulou

    That analysis at the end is reading into the situation a bit too much. Japan never tried to sell its pop culture to America because the domestic entertainment market there is incredibly strong, so there was never a need to waste time and effort on breaking into America. A quick look at CD sales in Korea vs. Japan will show why Korean entertainment firms have been far more interested in expanding abroad.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    You are a mangina

  • Aja Aja

    Who buys CD’s these days when you have the downloads? That’s so 1980’s.

  • RElgin

    That sounds like a cocktail…

  • redwhitedude

    Wha?

  • redwhitedude

    huh?

  • Bob Bobbs

    Actually, the Japanese do. The Koreans would rather steal, oops, download it. And the 80s were about tapes and LPs. CDs are 90s.

  • redwhitedude

    Korea is the only market where downloads are the majority of the sales. So it is not so 80’s.

  • redwhitedude

    What about China? Their music revenue is comparable to ireland’s.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Your homophones (and library books) are overdue.

  • Eljan

    Any pop genre that is sustained by babysitting money will always be profoundly uncool. I think we need to consider the authority of the source on cool here. Since when have people looked to CNN or the Wall Street Journal to know what´s cool or not?

  • redwhitedude

    Korea is also uncool because there is too much concentration of economic power in Samsung and Hyundai. Fixing this will make it cooler.

  • redwhitedude

    Who cares. If you live in Korea obviously you think it is cool enough to do so.

  • redwhitedude
  • Jonny B-H

    Forced, subsidized, bureaucrat-inspired cool will never last, if it even gets a foothold.

    A big part of what I like about Korea is that it is not too popular.

    Temporarily trendy — yes, but you can’t force the rest of the world to “get” Korea.

    That’s cool.

  • RElgin

    . . .pushing his shades up on his face and sipping on a cool, refreshing mangina, our hero returns to his origins. As he slips further underneath the arching shadow of the giant skirt, he raises his head, in rapt blankness and wonders “so, this is where it all began . . . “.

  • redwhitedude

    All Korea has to do is the government to back off.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Thank you for the instructional video. That is a nice skirt. -11? Brr. But seriously: why does it bother you to walk under a picture of a female?

  • redwhitedude

    I just find it awkward given that picture.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Fair enough. We all have our foibles.

  • http://www.eslwriting.org/ eslwriter

    Mass pop appeal ain’t nothing new. Think back to the frenzy surrounding the British invasion of the US: the Beatles, the Who, the Ruttles. Today, replace the frenzy continues with 2PM, FT Island and Beast.

    Here’s the difference: as interest expands beyond the music to broader cultural products, Korea’s cool factor drops way off. Go deeper, and the glimmer of Korea Cool really begins to fade once a foreigner experiences the joys of Korean employment practices.

  • gbnhj

    Perhaps. In which case she’s off by something like a factor of just a thousand. In other words, it’s like saying that, for a limited time, a Burger King Cheese Fondue Whopper Meal is available for only $7,900.

    That’s sloppy. (Her statement, that is. Well, the burger too. Both of them – very sloppy.)

  • The Sawon

    No doubt that for the past decade Korea has taken over the mantle of pop-culture leader in Asia. At the moment in Australia you can see the definite influence on other Asian communities in the way they are now dressing, style their hair and use of makeup. In the past it was easy to distinguish a Korean from lets say an Indonesian without looking at their defining facial features because there was a stark contrast in style. (converse kicks with a baseball cap pretty much gave away any Korean) Not to mention the increase in Korean restaurants and “semi” boom in Korean classes that are dominated by students from other nations (mainly SEA nations).

    I think the more European/american culture biased Australian population is wise to the ‘try-hard’ feel of Kpop and Kdramas and it’s pretty hard to compete at the moment with American culture when there is a golden age of TV happening (GoT, House of Cards, Orange is new black etc). Regardless, The area I see Korea failing is in that the so called ‘billions’ is generally being directed to western markets; the markets where they are unlikely to succeed. Meanwhile they have practically taken over the huge Asian market with their soft power but still continue to treat those nations and their citizens as beneath them – I am of course referring to the obvious racism that exists between Koreans and other Asians (particularly South East Asia). Soft-power is opening the door for many Korean business in Asia but they are entering markets with a superiority complex which is fast alienating the market. Not to mention the hordes of SEA students going to Seoul to study and being met with passive aggressive racism (ie. teasing friends because they look like they are from “Thailand”)

    They just seem to be neglecting their largest market.

  • Aleksej Klimov

    Korean cool is overrated. It just is the flavour of the month. So-called Korean cool is mainly resulting from a copy-paste approach, backed up by government support. After all, the South Korean government wants the Korean public to believe that Korea is a country of importance in the world. Just another example of typical (but shallow) Korean status thinking.

  • Aleksej Klimov

    Korean cool is overrated. It just is the flavour of the month. So-called Korean cool is mainly resulting from a copy-paste approach, backed up by government support. After all, the South Korean government wants the Korean public to believe that Korea is a country of importance in the world. Just another example of typical (but shallow) Korean status thinking.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Perhaps, though in his case only a tail, sans cock.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    A mangina:

    (slang, derogatory) A man with a pronounced feminine side, or a weak masculine side.

    Also an “ally” to the feminist cause.

  • RElgin

    Happy hour is over too.

  • I AM IN ODE

    copying Japanese pop culture and calling it Korean pop culture is not cool

  • Aja Aja

    I bet you’ll be surprised to know, five worst thefts of downloaded music ranking:

    1 US

    2 UK

    3 Italy

    4 Canada

    5 Brazil

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/9547974/UK-second-worst-in-world-for-illegal-music-downloads.html

  • Aja Aja

    Please have a look at this article. South Korea is one of the few countries where music sales have grown by 10% in 2011, with more digital content than physical purchases, and is considered a model minority in protecting against download sharing copyright violations.

    http://musicandcopyright.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/south-korea-continues-to-develop-as-a-model-for-future-recorded-music-markets/

  • Aja Aja

    I understand that when changes come in Korea, they happen so quickly that it’s often hard to update one’s thinking that may have been true once, but is no longer true. But since the tough 2009 legislation that disconnected internet connections who violated the new file sharing law, the offences of digital theft has come down considerably.

  • redwhitedude

    Whatever.

  • bigmamat

    But the Korean companies work hand in hand with the government. The KBS censorship board decides who goes on TV and what kind of “message” idol music puts out. Just in the last couple of days the music program Ikigayo on SBS proclaimed that 19+ would get an automatic zero thus banning the already banned. I don’t know why Korea thinks that if they further neuter an already bland and watered down product even more this will attract westerners. I think Korea has a major complex about their “image” with sex being the #1 cause of angst, and nationalism running a near 2nd.

  • RElgin

    As I said, any time any government gets involved, it will be a disaster; bureaucrats are mostly tasteless, clueless and not even qualified to judge children’s watercolours let alone programing content.

    The music chaebol are better qualified to make most of these decisions, IMHO.

  • Aja Aja

    Despite what you read in the media, I don’t think there’s any need to convince everyone that Korea is uncool. Ask any sensible Koreans and they’ll be the last ones to say Korea is “cool”. Heck, many Koreans aren’t even convinced South Korea is a developed country, let alone thinking that Korea’s a cool place. Being “cool” is subjective opinion anyway. What is cool to some people, to others, it’s not.

    This is just more meaningless noise.

  • redwhitedude

    I don’t think broadcasters should be the ones determining what is appropriate or not. Their business is to boost viewership in whatever manner they can by putting broadcasting content that they feel the public might like to see. The job of determining what is appropriate should be done by a separate body that is independent from government and broadcasters.

  • redwhitedude

    I strongly believe government has no business in this. If the music chaebol did it, they would not be reliable and might cause conflict of interest not to mention they could collude against their competitors.

  • wangkon936

    Motown. Don’t forget Motown, which also had a very K-popesque factory “system,” was ironically inspired by the auto industry!

    http://www.motownmuseum.org/story/motown/

    Over a half-century ago, on January 12, 1959, to be exact, a young African-American songwriter named Berry Gordy founded his company with a loan of $800 from his family, marking the birth of the “Motown Records Corporation.”

    From his experience at Lincoln-Mercury, he also set up a system at Motown called Quality Control, in order to ensure only top product would be released.

    … and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motown#Motown_Sound:

    The Motown production process has been described as factory-like. The Hitsville studios remained open and active 22 hours a day, and artists would often go on tour for weeks, come back to Detroit to record as many songs as possible, and then promptly go on tour again. Berry Gordy held quality control meetings every Friday morning, and used veto power to ensure that only the very best material and performances would be released. The test was that every new release needed to fit into a sequence of the top five selling pop singles of the week.

  • wangkon936

    These are gross nominal, not per capita numbers. Thus, not surprising that the U.S. and Brazil is on there. Given their smaller populations, it must mean that the UK, Italy and Canada are horrible offenders!

  • redwhitedude

    Maybe Kpop is going through that phase.

  • redwhitedude

    Actually manufactured pop is not a Japanese invention.

  • redwhitedude

    Well that point of view tends to downplay Korea’s accomplishment but at the same time if you’ve hung out in Seoul long enough the novelty of the place wears out. You take Seoul for granted unlike somebody who checks out the place as a tourist. At the end of the day it is just a marketing slogan.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Interesting.

  • Justin

    As you would expect on a blog devoted to Korea, Korean stuff (pop culture, food, whatever) is purported to have more cred than it really does. The average American probably still couldn’t name a single Korean song, movie, actor, even “gangnam style.” Being married to a Korean and consequently living half in that world I thought differently until I started talking more to Americans and visited America (of which I am a citizen) last year ( I don’t live in either country now.). Anecdote only goes so far but I’d say only 2 in 10 had heard of gangnam style and almost nobody could name anything else Korean, food, movies, etc. Europe might be a bit different and certainly the rest of Asia but America……not so much.

  • Aja Aja

    My guess is they still lack the high speed internet infrastructure (as well as Chinese government meddling in censorship), even though they’re developing them fast. Many poorer Chinese especially in the rural areas may still not have computers at home.

  • redwhitedude

    Very telling when a 6.5 earthquake collapses 12,000 houses and kills several hundred. A comparable earthquake in more developed countries wouldn’t even kill 100. Despite spotty accessibility in China there should be enough areas with decent access not necessarily the latest or greatest.

  • pawikirogii

    i first heard of the k wave in 1997. kind of belies the expat contention that it’s just the flavor of the month. near twenty years does not a fad make and suggesting that it’s just government marketing is simply ridiculous. interest in kpop was organic. do your homework.

  • pawikirogii

    here’s some history about the korea wave. do your homework, joe. it ain’t no fad.

    http://www.list.or.kr/articles/article_view.htm?Div1=8&Idx=790

  • RElgin

    True dat. The only problem is no one with any power has the ability to do a proper job of it, or at least I can’t think of any group that exists.

  • redwhitedude

    Not in the US. This Korea Wave is just a ripple in the US at best. It is a niche thing. However it is quite a feat just carving a niche in the US. Most Asian stuff are confined to Asian American enclaves and do not go beyond that.

  • redwhitedude

    An independent body has to be set up. The problem is who constitutes that body and is it truly going to be ‘independent’. I have doubts in both counts.

  • redwhitedude

    Since the government won’t be dropping their involvement, I just hope they take an attitude of take what is given and run with it instead of forcing it.

  • pawikirogii

    i don’t care whether it becomes popular in the states. what irks me is this idea that the k wave is something recent. i was just over at youtube watching ‘ringa linga’. near 22 million hits. i’d say that’s pretty good even if americans aren’t the ones watching. the k wave does just fine without the westerner.

  • redwhitedude

    In the US it is a bit more of a recent occurrence. K wave had to get big in Asia and then move to US. As long as it gets to the US that’s all that matters not how long it took.

  • pawikirogii

    the efforts directed at the west may be money wasted. my question is why koreans care whether westerners like korean culture. man, you think i care if anon joe likes korean sa guk? nope.

  • redwhitedude

    They need manage to get a niche. I think it is forcing it too much. May be due to perceived lack of acknowledgement on the part of Korean side. Another thing is that N. America is a major media market in much the same way a major market for cars, and other consumer goods. As I said this requires a different thinking than just selling boxes.

  • kaizenmx

    Prove it, weeaboo.

  • wangkon936

    The problem is… he can’t.

  • Sinister

    The adjective ‘cool’ is probably the least appropriate for Korea unless you’re describing the weather in late autumn. Koreans themselves are not cool at all. Can you imagine a Korean John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix, a Korean Jack Kerouac or Irvine Welsh? Zappa or Boulez? Parker or Davis? A K version of the Doors or Led Zeppelin? Snoop Dogg or Goldie Lookin’ Chain? White Stripes or Sex Pistols, Shakespeare or Poe, James Dean, Frank Winston or Michael Cane. It is unthinkable. Koreans simply aren’t cool. Most Koreans and most Korean culture is boring even if they did discover Dokdo and invent the pizza!

    There are some very cool Korean people who happen to be artists, musicians, poets, novelists. Cool Koreans? They exist and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few. But on the whole Koreans are weird or boring rather than cool. Embrace the strangeness it is more interesting.

    Korean companies should market themselves as a high tech, weirdo geek country. It is embarrassing when governments get involved in pop culture. Blair and Clinton come to mind, I disliked both those guys generally, but when they tried to be ‘cool’ I felt deep pity for them.

    Korea trying to be ‘cool’ is like watching a drunken grandfather at a wedding dancing to Boney M. It’s amusing, embarrassing, even cute, but no sane person would say that it was ‘cool’.

    Koreans should embrace weird, nothing wrong with that and Korea has to be one of the most weird countries on the planet. If I, through some very unlikely twist of fate, became head of KNTO I would have a new slogan for Korea. ‘Korea : Embrace the Strangeness – You Only Live Once’

  • silver surfer

    Oooh Korea you’re so cool. You’re sooooo cool, Korea.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Koreans will never be cool until they commit a collective patricide.

    One cannot achieve anything original or of artistic substance listening to one’s own parents.

    The term “movement” only applies to the hotheaded and swiftly beaten down labour unions in Korea. I think it’s the death of a nation, filial falsity. Damn shame.

  • redwhitedude
  • Sinister

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGDW-IfVA2s

    I hate Sandler’s movies, but this is cute.

  • A Korean

    Patricide … do we have a daddy issue here?

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Couldn’t be bothered to say patricide and or matricide.
    I meant killing of one’s parents, figuratively.

  • bumfromkorea

    That would be a resounding yes.

  • bumfromkorea

    I don’t think Korea is “cool”. “Cool” is such a Western (particularly American) concept with decades of cultural context in it, applying it here seems really inappropriate. Most of the objection here seems to be disputing this article on the basis of what “cool” means, and the Western-centric arguments (Korea isn’t that popular in America, Korea doesn’t have the equivalents of [insert a western cultural icon/celebrities/legends], etc.) here seem to support the idea that “cool” is a decidedly American concept.

    Korea is certainly popular – its soft power is getting stronger in important future markets, particularly in Southeast Asia. My one consolation is that, in spite of the dominance of the idols, the K-indie scene seems to be thriving in its own way.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HL8AypWjUg

  • redwhitedude

    If only they had access to media channels like all these Kpop companies. Music chaebol style by all these Kpop chaebols. Broadcasters are in bed with them.

  • redwhitedude

    He might have an *gasp* oedipus complex issue.

  • A Korean

    아이고, 말 좀 조심해서 합시다. 너무 막쓰시내.

  • pawikirogii

    ‘Soft-power is opening the door for many Korean business in Asia but they
    are entering markets with a superiority complex which is fast
    alienating the market.’

    could you back this up with some proof? i’ll bet you can’t. your OPINION is not fact, sir.

  • wangkon936

    Speaking of “Soft Power,” Joseph Nye, the Harvard professor who coined the term, just gave a huge face palm to Japan:

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/04/national/japans-image-hurt-by-abes-militarist-facade-nye/

  • Aja Aja

    The title of this subject is not “cool”, read the title. It says, “coolest” place on earth. The contempt for the articles is thick as fog. Blame the poorly logical articles, or the media, but don’t blame and bash the entire country and its people to bring them down several pegs. Most Koreans don’t even know what “cool” means, it has no equivalent in Korean language. It’s a Western concept that barely goes beyond English language papers and English language forums like this. And very few Koreans think South Korea is such a great country either, let alone being the “coolest nation on earth” (not a ‘cool’ country, but the ‘coolest’ nation on earth – rolls eyes…. 혼자 북치고 장구치고 놀고자빠졌네).

  • pawikirogii

    anon joe is a korea basher but he thinks he knows best. korea is doing just fine.

  • RElgin

    The TPP is still a very bad idea though.

  • redwhitedude

    Really poor advertising on Abe’s part. Meanwhile Abenomics isn’t doing squat for the Japanese. He’s suckered to public into buying into Abenomics.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    “Muh Sojuny” is the battle cry of the feminist. What is it, really, if not an expression of feelings over fact. When a feminist doesn’t like something, or feels her feelings are hurt, or feels uncomfortable, or is challenged and has no rational retort, or when the facts are not on her side, she cries “MUH SOJUNY” and hopes that with that magical term, she is able to gain the upper hand where she was at a disadvantage before.

    When a man does this, it is either because he is a pathetic beta mangina hoping to white knight his way between a woman’s legs or because he suffers from similar inability to reason as the feminist.

  • redwhitedude

    Well I guess I am not a feminist since I didn’t use that battle cry.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Just because you didn’t utter the cry verbatim doesn’t change the facts that you are still a mangina.

    Or, explain yourself. Why are you bothered by the placement of the girl?

  • Sumo294

    Canadians are a bunch of music thieves–I blame their poor Frenchies–I don’t think they afford to buy music legally.

  • Sumo294

    Pawi is back!!!!!

  • Sumo294

    Yuna got far more beat downs from her mommy. Yet she blames her childhood on daddy. Very logical.

  • RElgin

    You misread the comment. Please try again or delete.

  • I AM IN ODE

    Girls Generation is Japanese pop culture. If you don’t believe that’s true you’re lying to yourself.

  • redwhitedude

    So I am a mangina according to you.

  • redwhitedude

    He is saying that getting CD is old fashioned. I’m saying that there are still lots of people who buy CDs.

  • redwhitedude

    The only person lying is you. Manufactured bands didn’t originate in Japan.

  • bumfromkorea

    No way. Who the hell buys CDs anymore? The only CDs I see these days are at Best Buys, Target, and Wal-Mart, and they all have the same 10~12 artists on display. It’s all about the iTunes and Pandora these days.

  • Aja Aja

    The Japanese still buy CD’s, they have a different market because they don’t rely on downloading music as much as Korea does. Japan relies on CD sales with groups like AKAB48, by selling multiple copies of the same discs. Japanese still buy them because many middle aged men are attracted to CD-jacket covers of their favorite pop girls. CD sales made up 80 percent of Japanese music sales in 2012. Even then, Japanese music sales plunged last year.

    Their Music industry sales is highly overrated, says Businessweek.

    “Much of Japan’s strength can be attributed to acts such as AKB48, whose miniskirted members perform in three groups of about 20 each at the 250-seat theater above a discount store in Tokyo’s Akihabara district.”

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-03/cds-rule-japans-music-market-thanks-to-girl-groups-and-add-ons

  • redwhitedude

    I definitely would get CDs of compilations of artists I like to listen. Sometimes I like to have physical records over just having them as files.

  • redwhitedude

    You also have fans that buy multiple copies that inflates the numbers in Japan. Just like collecting a magazine issue with different covers.

    BTW what chunk of the revenue in Japan comes from Kpop?

  • redwhitedude

    Basically “cool” wears off as soon as the novelty of Korea goes away. Doesn’t sound that different from any country.

  • redwhitedude

    People with superiority complex are ignorant. They apparently have never dealt with other cultures so they have this notion of cultural superiority. This applies to any country.

  • redwhitedude

    I somehow doubt those dense ajosshis who are in the 50s and 60s who run the government will understand you.

  • pawikirogii

    here’s an interesting article about k pop in america from the la times.

    http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-gdragon-teen-top-b1a4-kpop-kcon-20140810-story.html

  • redwhitedude

    I’m sorry California is a different country from the US.

  • wangkon936

    Yeah, we really should splinter off… but we are about 1/8th of the U.S.’s wealth so perhaps we shouldn’t? You guys can get by without Apple, Google and Facebook adding to the U.S. economy, right?

  • redwhitedude

    Yeah. give it back to mexico. They are reclaiming it. It was a historic mistake to take california. BTW who founded all those companies? Mexicans? While we are at it. Give back the Republic of Texas as well. lol

    On a related note to the LA times article. Why did a colombian teenager friend me out of the blue saying that she was a fan of Boys over Flowers? That was totally random. WTH.

  • Bob Bobbs

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/01/113_59800.html
    “Korea committed the second most cases of online music piracy in the world after China last year…”

    “Around 68 percent of users in China, 60 percent in Korea
    and 46 percent in Spain said they had downloaded music without paying
    for it in November 2009.”

    “Korea has been considered lax on illegal downloading by
    the international community. The U.S. once placed it on a special watch
    list for piracy of U.S. music and movies.”

    – A few years old, perhaps, but pretty damning. This next article, however, says the situation is improving; I suppose time will tell:

    “The Japanese music industry is hoping to replicate the success of South Korea, which has seen its global market ranking jump to 11th in the world from 23rd after the country cracked down on download piracy beginning in 2007, according the IFIP’s 2012 “Digital Music Report.”

    South Korean laws require Internet providers to send notices to users who illegally download music, with 70% of infringers stopping after first notification, IFPI says.”

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/01/business/japan-music-piracy/

  • tatertot

    I don’t understand this comment.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I will ridicule you and snicker for my own satisfaction

  • redwhitedude

    Phew! I thought you were going to say that you are attracted to me in a homoerotic way.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    That is merely a projection, likely stemming from your manginaness.

  • redwhitedude

    Not sure about that. My “manginaness” seems to have bothered you enough to pick on me.

  • Bob Bobbs

    HTTP 404: Homophone not found.

  • wangkon936

    I actually see a lot of American influence, in addition to the Japanese influence.

    http://radio.com/2013/04/25/k-pop-american-influences/

    However, if Korea was merely “copying” Japanese pop, then why can’t Japan replicate it?

  • brier

    It’s the added touches to the copying, which is where the value lies, I believe. Plus Korean women are hotter than Japanese women.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    The golden age of Hollywood used a similar system, the “studio system” as they called it.

    I have no problem with manufactured pop music. It’s been around as long as pop music itself. However I do have a problem with the very unethical business practices of the major music companies, as well as with the government support given to it.

  • A Korean

    Oh better surgical technique. Who can tell these days.

  • Aja Aja

    Have you even watch the Jpop lately? If you think Kpop is bad, Jpop is hundred times worse. Absolutely no way Kpop copied something that’s hundred times worse.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l_jiJu4Lfg

    Jpop entertainment companies should at least try to copy the Kpop dance moves. Their dancing is not only atrocious, it’s just plain embarrassing.

  • Aja Aja

    Case in point, have a look at this 2009 video from a group called “After School”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nTVjsi18OU

    If that’s not American influence/centric, then I don’t know what is.

    The closest Kpop group that may resemble Jpop would be the group called KARA who were a huge hit in Japan couple of years ago. But in Korea, they were not nearly as popular. And as that group’s popularity faded in Japan, they’ve dropped completely off the table in Korea.

  • redwhitedude

    If Korea was merely “copying” Japanese pop. Japanese pop would already be known outside of Japan in the same way Kpop is right now.

  • redwhitedude

    That group seriously needs to retire. They lost 2 members and now they have two new members. Should have quit. They’d be better off being models at some home shopping network.

  • A Korean

    Keep your embracing to yourself, weirdo.

  • Aja Aja

    Bob Bobbs, you are quoting an old Korea Times article in 2010, citing 2009 data. I’ve already posted below the new law in 2009 which came into effect that virtually ended the indiscriminate downloading. Time will tell? It sure did, after five years since that article.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I dont like feminists, of either gender

  • Bob Bobbs

    70% of infringers stopped after the first warning. So what are the total numbers now? How many of them continued? What happens to those who do? Are there ways around it? Will the enforcement continue? How much music have the 30% who continued actually still downloaded? Now the market is “11th”- whatever that means. That’s not number one. 30% of the world’s second-most proficient music thieves is still quite a few.

  • Aja Aja

    I don’t get what you’re trying to get at. I’ve showed you the worst offenders of music downloading comes from the West where coincidentally music industries have shown shrinking sales. Coincidentally, with draconian Korean law prohibiting illegal sharing of music, the music industry sales in Korea have shown large sales growths the last few years. Korea is the only country bucking the global trend.

    http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/09/20/worlds-worst-offender-illegal-music-downloading/

  • Bob Bobbs

    It is hard to argue with that. Thank you for the information. Korea’s ability to change rapidly in evidence again.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    The world is seeing a lot of Asians who are coming out from their dictator/communist/poverty woodwork that is re-defining the word “cool” with the sheer number.

    For example, the modern Asian answer to “Call Me Baby” culture is this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyCwVdNaubY

    And I am not being sarcastic. I do think Kiyomi is cool.

    Pop culture is pop for a reason.

    What is lacking is the equivalent of Bjork,Bob Dylan, Tracy Emin, Daft Punk, i.e.drug induced culture. And I don’t see it happening any time soon either e.g.:
    http://www.ibtimes.com/china-executes-two-south-korean-drug-dealers-ignoring-seouls-clemency-pleas-1651428

  • Graham

    I thought I had had an understanding of what the word ‘cool’ meant (e.g., Jimi Hendrix, Robin Williams R.I.P., Nick Cave). But, if ‘the coolest nation in the world’ is that inhabited by scores of Christian-lite nutters, I suppose a vist to the dictionary is in order.

  • left nut

    It would, but the original piece was written by an Taiwanese American.

  • redwhitedude

    Meaning? As a Taiwanese he has a anti Korean agenda?

  • left nut

    Anti Korean agenda? no… Some context around my response…
    Your comment read like it was missing the word “it” and I was simply pointing out that it would be but the author is not Korean.

    “BTW doesn’t (it) sound like Korea is the new kid in the block begging for attention?”

    Nothing to read in between the lines here.

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  • I AM IN ODE

    I agree there’s an American influence, but the overall concept is Japanese. Japan has moved on, they’re looking for the next thing.

  • I AM IN ODE

    I was not referring to “manufactured bands”. Korea used JPop to create Kpop. This type of thing goes on all the time all over the world.
    90% of what Koreans call Korean modern design; art; music; fashion, originates in Japan.
    Have you been to Japan?

  • redwhitedude

    I wouldn’t say Kpop came from Jpop. Have you seen Seo Taiji in the early 90s? He lifted stuff straight from the American music scene not from Japan. He was the one who got the ball rolling into what it is now.

  • redwhitedude

    Well Japan and Korea may share some similarities in the way that these musical groups are ran and managed but in terms of content it varies. Not sure if the concept can be credited as being purely Japanese.

  • redwhitedude

    And I AM IN ODE doesn’t give credit to japan because he/she is repulsed by it?

  • wangkon936

    I mean replicate its popularity outside their country. The Japanese cannot despite a desire by their government to do so.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool_Japan

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Chuck+Chiang+Tokyo+tries+counter+South+Korean/9986257/story.html

    Given that most objective observers see Korean pop culture as now more popular than Japanese pop culture outside of their respective borders how can one merely be a copy of the other?

    Your claim cannot be logically sustained by the real world results.

  • wangkon936

    I don’t think Mr. I AM IN ODE is too familiar with Seo Taiji.

  • redwhitedude

    Too bad for I AM IN ODE.

  • Hang Seng Index

    The analysis is incorrect. The Japanese did try and very much succeeded at selling video games to the Americans. I mean they dominated the industry for a good twenty or so years, perhaps more importantly they’ve managed to leave a deep mark, for one, Mario is probably as well recognized as Mickey Mouse in big parts of the world.
    This story is clearly lost on many people (including the Japanese themselves) who like to laud cartoons and funnybooks as the country’s crowning achievement.

  • wangkon936

    Pac-man. Don’t forget Pakkuman.

    Any ways, that was then (80’s and 90’s) and this is now. It has been awhile since Japan has made a serious pop culture impression on the world.

    What have the Japanese given to us lately? Godzilla? Eh, okay, maybe.

  • redwhitedude

    Japanese seem to have not dived into mobile gaming in a serious way.

  • RElgin

    You are, once again, correct here.
    Seo Taji, single-handedly did more to develop k-pop than any other musician before the advent of the music chaebol. Beginning with his first album (with the boys) to Come Back Home (1995), his influences were American, not Japanese. Prince’s Minneapolis sound did more to influence him than any Japanese artist.
    Since the formation of SM Entertainment, JYP, etc., the direction of and defining qualities of k-pop have changed from its origins.

  • Hang Seng Index

    Of course no, Godzilla was created in the fifties.
    Anyway it doesn’t matter if the Japanese have asleep for the last ten years, what matters is it’s incorrect to say that they never tried to sell their pop culture to the US.