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Korean popular culture can be discussed as a strong tool of soft power because of the high attractiveness and popularity of this culture in the world. Thus, the topic selected for further close examination and research is Soft Power: Korean Pop Culture. The purpose of this proposal is to introduce the topic of the project, present central questions to research, discuss the reasons for choosing the topic, and describe methods for studying the phenomenon.
Topic for Investigation
Modern Korean popular culture is a product of combining national features and the impacts of other cultures, including both regional and Western ones. As a result of this hybridity, Korean culture is viewed as less nationally specific but more adapted to attract the representatives of other cultures (Jung 3). Therefore, being discussed in the context of soft power, Korean popular culture succeeded in spreading its values regarding music, media, cinema, and food. K-pop was developed as a genre of Korean popular music that became interesting to the world audience because of mixing Asian and Western elements (Shim 40). Thus, transcultural and transnationalization in relation to Korean pop culture became the result of globalization.
Media also played a significant role in spreading Korean popular culture in Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan and then in winning fans in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries. This sharing of Korean cultural products became possible by means of YouTube and other social media, as well as the spread of television dramas (Jung 3; Shim 26). Food is another cultural aspect that attracted young Westerners because of the active promotion of Korean cuisine abroad (Cwiertka 364). All these points need to be investigated in detail to determine how Korean popular culture is used within the soft power strategy of South Korea.
The following research questions need to be addressed in the context of studying the discussed topic:
- How did globalization and transcultural flows influence the development and spread of Korean music, media, and food in Asian and Western countries?
- What is the role of Korean popular culture in affecting the views of young Asians and Westerns?
- What is the role of modern Korean popular culture as a soft power tool in influencing the global audience’s attitudes toward and perceptions of South Korea?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Korean Wave and the popularity of Korean culture worldwide for social, economic, and international courses of South Korea?
Rationale for Research
Recently, Korean popular culture has become recognized as a specific sociocultural phenomenon that affected not only Asian countries but also the Western world. The unique spread of values and elements of Korean culture has become known as the Korean Wave (Joo 490). The current popularity of Korean music, television dramas and shows, and food are so high in Asian and Western countries that this phenomenon requires further investigation.
Thus, Korean pop culture seems to have a significant impact on young generations all over the globe (Jung 6). Consequently, there is a need to investigate how this popularity of Korean culture developed and what effects it has on the public attitude toward South Korea in the world. The spread of Asian values mixed with Western ones in the context of Korean culture has positive effects on increasing the country’s status and attracting tourists, but there are also risks associated with this situation. All these aspects need to be studied in detail in the context of this project.
To investigate the topic and answer the research questions, it is necessary to apply for a literature review as a research method in this project. The review, synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of recent studies on the topic of Korean popular culture and the idea of soft power are important steps to examine available data on the problem. Synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of the gathered data allow for responding to the research questions. It is also possible to conclude about the role of Korean popular culture in forming public attitudes toward South Korea in the context of the popularity of its media, food, and music.
Such sources as peer-reviewed articles, scholarly books, and articles representing experts’ opinions will be used for collecting required data for further review and analysis. The example of a source to review includes the work by Kim and Nye, in which they discuss how South Korea can use the Korean Wave to increase the attractiveness of the country (4). One more important article to read is the study by Joo, who examined the concepts of transnationalization and pop nationalism with reference to the culture in South Korea.
Additionally, the study by Yoon and Jin examines how Korean popular culture is perceived in the Western world, referring to the example of Canada. The other works also provide important details regarding the spread of Korean culture globally (Cwiertka 364; Jung 3). The application of a literature review approach allows for investigating the topic with reference to the most credible sources in the field.
Korean popular culture attracting both Asians and Westerners is a phenomenon that requires further investigation. This proposal has represented the topic of the planned research with a focus on its importance. The research questions guiding the investigation of Korean popular culture and the reasons for this study have also been provided. Finally, the discussion of the methods and literature appropriate for analyzing the topic has also been included in this proposal.
Cwiertka, Katarzyna J. “The Global Hansik Campaign and the Commodification of Korean Cuisine.” The Korean Popular Culture Reader, edited by Kyung Hyun Kim and Youngmin Choe, Duke University Press Books, 2014, pp. 363-384.
Joo, Jeongsuk. “Transnationalization of Korean Popular Culture and the Rise of ‘Pop Nationalism’ in Korea.” The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 44, no. 3, 2011, pp. 489-504.
Jung, Sun. “Korean Popular Culture and Transcultural Consumption: Globalized Desires between ‘Ours and Others’.” Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption: Yonsama, Rain, Oldboy, K-Pop Idols, edited by Sun Jung, Hong Kong University Press, 2010, pp. 1-34.
Kim, Youna, and Joseph Nye. “Soft Power and the Korean Wave.” South Korean Popular Culture and North Korea, edited by Youna Kim, Routledge, 2019, pp. 1-20.
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Shim, Doobo. “Hybridity and the Rise of Korean Popular Culture in Asia.” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 28, no. 1, 2006, pp. 25-44.
Yoon, Kyong, and Dal Yong Jin. “The Korean Wave Phenomenon in Asian Diasporas in Canada.” Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol. 37, no. 1, 2016, pp. 69-83.