K-POP and Korean Dramas: Korean Cultural Icons

2011 July 8
by Minhee

Korea is well known for many things, including good and healthy foods, fashionable (and cheap) clothes, computer gamers, and B-boy dancers. There are a few more things that have become popular over the last few years, probably the most significant being K-pop and Korean TV dramas.

K-pop and Korean TV dramas have been very popular in Asia actually for quite some time. In fact, there are television channels in China already broadcasting Korean TV dramas all day long. Many Korean celebrities (singers, actors and actresses) work in both Korea and other Asian countries. Some of them have been working exclusively outside of Korea. These celebrities, called ‘한류스타’ (Hanryu star or “Korean star”), have received a lot of media attention because they are viewed as Korean patriots who educate the world about Korea culture.

The popularity of Korean celebrities doesn’t just stop in Asian countries. Some Korean movie stars have been shooting Hollywood movies such as Ninja – starring a Korean singer and actor Rain (비); and G.I.Joe – starring a Korean actor Byung-hun Lee (이병헌). In addition to Hollywood movies, a Korean popular girl group called Wonder Girls (원더걸스) reached #76 on the Billboard top 100 last year. What amazing news!!!

An example of K-Pop’s gaining popularity in the world is last month SM (one of Korea’s largest entertainment companies which carried many famous idol groups such as 소녀시대 (Soneuysidae), 동방신기 (Dongbangshinki), 사이니 (Saini) under its label) had concerts in Europe under the name of  “SM Town Live World tour in Paris”. Despite the foreign audience, tickets sold out quickly with some fans sleeping outside the concert hall to just get standing-room tickets. The actual concert was full of hardcore European fans who wore t-shirts with their favorite singers name, held placards with ‘사랑해요 ***’ (I love you ***), and sang the lyrics in Korean. Some spectators even knew the dance moves!

In fact, to keep the originality and culture intact, many K-pop fans have protested attempts at dubbing K-pop lyrics into other languages. Instead they prefer to learn the Korean culture and language themselves. As Korea’s culture has gained popularity across the globe, more and more people are becoming interested in learning Korean in order to fully immerse themselves in the culture. As a Korean teacher at Hills Learning, my goal is to help you not only learn a new language, but also understand a new culture. Maybe one day I’ll have the privilege of be viewed as a “한류스타” (Hanryu star) myself!

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