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Korean Values Key to Success of the Korean Wave

2005/07/19 Source

SEOUL (Yonhap) _ Identification with Korean values is a major reason for "hallyu", or the Korean wave of pop cultural products that has swept through parts of Asia, South Korean scholars said Monday.

But the popularity and star power of Korean celebrities now poses a serious threat to the continued success of the country's entertainment industry, they said at a National Assembly seminar.

The country earned more than $52 million from exports of cultural contents, such as movies and television soap operas, to Japan in 2003 and more than $16 million from China the same year, according to Kim Hue-chong, a professor at Chugye University for the Arts.

Kim claimed more than 177,000 Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese tourists visited South Korea on hallyu-related tour packages last year, creating a $160 million economic impact. More than four million foreign tourists visited the country in 2002, of which 2.22 million were Japanese and some 440,000 Chinese.

Kim said the success of the country's cultural products overseas may have been due to what he called an ideal combination of South Korean values with those of other Asian countries and the world.

"With little exaggeration, we can say it is largely the success of a golden meeting between Asian values and global values", Kim said.

He warned however that the hallyu will prove short-lived if its suppliers continue to feed only South Korean values and approach the cultural market with an inflexible business mind set.

"Hallyu must be understood as something that can grow as an Asian cultural product instead of as something developed for possible export to other countries", Kim said.

Choi Hyun-ju, a professor of communication at Seoul's Sungkyunkwan University, also warned that the increased economic power of Korean cultural products and the stars involved may soon weigh down the overall development of the country's entertainment industry.

"(Producers) are only busy raising their prices on the back of the current high demand for hallyu and some of the stars are now being criticized for their rude behavior when visiting other Asian countries", Choi said.

"To continue the success of hallyu, we will have to accommodate the values of the countries that create the demand for hallyu", said Choi.

He also warned against hallyu stars trying to achieve too much and too soon, saying their `star power' does not derive from their own personality, but from the personality of the characters they portray in movies or dramas, just as Bae Yong-joon gained his popularity through his leading role in "Winter Sonata".

"The reason Elvis Presley is still loved is not because he accumulated enormous wealth, but because he gave all he had to satisfy what his fans demanded", he said

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