By Han Sang-hee
Many say the Korean wave, or hallyu, is dwindling. Some say the fault is on promotion, while others argue about quality. For former entertainment reporter and now professor Hong Sung-kyu, it is the overall mindset that is preventing the wave from moving further.
"The fundamental problem in the Korean entertainment industry is that it is disposable. The reason why it's so difficult to get out of this mess is because the people working within entertainment don't realize this and are not interested in moving forward for a better future", he said during an interview last week at The Korea Times.
This has led the professor to start an entertainment business major under the Conservatory of Korea to help producers, agencies and managers learn more about the industry and how to further nurture stars.
"Culture has become an important industry for Korea, and we believe we should start producing star-makers, not just stars, in the long run. Hallyu may have been brought by famous actors and singers, but these stars were made by their producers and agencies. The department is aimed to bring more professional star makers who can broaden their (understudies') boundaries in the international scene", he said.
The reality is that the spotlight is only on the actors and singers, while the agents and managers also endure heavy schedules and sleepless nights, plus deal with promotions and other projects for their clients. In order to fulfill these tasks and also promote their clients in other countries, expertise in management, financing and even psychology is necessary.
"When young idol groups come out, they perform for a couple of weeks, mark number one on music programs and then disappear. The lifespan of young singers these days is very short, and this can cause a problem both culturally and financially", said Ben Yeo, the head of the school's office of external exchange and cooperation.
In order to offer a more systemized program, professor Hong will bring a psychological coaching program based on the International Coach Federation (ICF).
"Many Korean dailies offer education sections that coaches their readers how to effectively focus on their studies and get good grades. These are all part of the coaching program from the ICF. We are applying this to stars and their managers", Hong said.
According to Hong, one of the biggest problems many stars have, yet avoid to confront, is not being able to understand their true identity. Some actors who portray morbid and immoral roles find it hard to return to their real selves.
"Before her death, actress Lee Eun-joo
portrayed depressed and sick characters in films, while actor Choi Min-soo
played many tough roles, as well as sometimes getting into quarrels in real life as well", Hong said.
The most recent case would be Choi Jin-sil
, who had to go through difficult times after rumors regarding her and the death of her good friend, fellow actor Ahn Jae-hwan
"Stars tend to get lonely easily. They look happy in the spotlight with fans cheering them on, but when they return to reality, they feel loneliness. The last person Choi met other than her family members was her manager. If the people she worked with knew the right way to help her escape her misery, things may have been different", he added.
"Culture is not about money anymore. We need a professional approach and the new department will hopefully offer the education needed for star makers".
The four-year semester starts next year, and anyone who has a high school diploma can try out. For more information, visit Open the link