The effects of globalisation are, in today’s society, so apparent that they can be easily overlooked. Italian-style McDonald’s outlets cater to the Italian population; French-speaking British schools promote bilingualism; and the Macedonian news airs on your television every day at 8.30am.
Multiculturalism has touched, blessed and tainted every country on Earth – and Australia is arguably leading this universal revolution with its rich cultural diversity and strong community spirit.
It is this spread of globalisation that generated the ‘Korean Wave’ – the infiltration of the previously guarded Korean pop culture throughout the world. In particular, the Korean Wave had a remarkable impact on Western society, resulting in an amalgamation of cultures that appealed to a more diverse and widespread audience.
For those of you struggling to identify an example of this phenomenon, use this refresher:
Despite its immense success, Psy’s Gangnam Style was not released without criticism; concerns have been raised about the, “potentially corrosive consequences of Western culture and the degree to which regional audiences can be said to experience culture in a manner common with South Koreans,” (Ryoo, 140).
South Korean pop culture is overtaking the previous dominance held by the American and Japanese market in Asia, and it can now boast its rank as one of the largest film industries in the world. Psy’s success has been attributed to his catchy beats, quirky and relatable themes, convenient location (close to neighbouring Asian countries) and luck, but ultimately, “the emergence of communication technologies and media networks allowing for faster, more extensive, interdependent forms of worldwide exchange, travel, and integration are central to this process.” (Ryoo, 138.)
For surrounding Asian countries with less-developed entertainment industries of their own, the Korean Wave has provided an accessible outlet that reflects familiar Western content, but that perhaps provides some more relatable ties to their own cultures. By contrast, the phenomenon has provided Western culture with a fresh take on pop culture that is different enough to generate a new following, yet familiar enough to retain original fans.
The hybridisation of American and South Korean entertainment industries provides the perfect prototype for the wider effects of globalisation; as technologies advance and cultural borders between nations continue to blur, we must learn to compromise; to appreciate the original roots of individual cultures whilst recognising the effect of these amalgamations on our adapting global society. Soon, the continents will have meshed together so profoundly that individual civilisations may be hardly discernable, but cultural influences will forever remain at the core of all global content.
Ryoo, Woongjae 2009, ‘Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave’, Asian Journal of Communication, Vol. 19, No. 2, June 2009, pp. 137-151.
Farrar, L 2010, “‘Korean Wave’ of Pop Culture Sweeps Across Asia’ CNN Digital Biz, http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/12/31/korea.entertainment/
Fisher, M 2012, ‘Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation’. The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/gangnam-style-dissected-the-subversive-message-within-south-koreas-music-video-sensation/261462/