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Korean wave arrives in Central, South America

2006/11/27 | 310 views | Permalink | Source

Newspapers have published reports about the recent Korean culture boom, or hallyu, sweeping over East Asian countries. Though some critics claim hallyu works only in Asia, such phenomenon, however, is not solely based on the similarity or common feelings that Asians share.

Recently, growing interest in Korean culture, television dramas and movies have been seen in Central and South America where cultural exchanges only recently began. "Winter Sonata", a famous Korean drama starring Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo, began winning recognition from Venezuelan viewers in October of this year.

Likewise, Korean dramas and films are televised in Central and South America and gradually attracting Mexican, Chilean and Paraguayan viewers, dispersing Korean culture in the region.

Despite the different culture, geography and temperaments, "The Way Home", a movie that shows the relationship between a boy and his grandmother in rural Korea, touched Argentineans' hearts. Another Korean film "Old Boy", winner of the 2004 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, received favorable responses from Argentinean media and movie critics when it was screened nationwide early this year. Argentinean movie-lovers also crowded the weeklong screening of Korean film master Im Kwon-taek's works in September 2006.

More exchange needed to raise understanding about both cultures

A promotion delegation organized by the Korean Broadcasting Institute (KBI) visited Argentina from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4 to discuss measures to penetrate the Central and South American market. During their stay, directors and representatives from KBI; state broadcasters Korean Broadcasting System, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, Seoul Broadcasting System, Education Broadcasting System; and Korea's leading movie distributor CJ Entertainment met Argentinean broadcasting executives and visited broadcasting bodies to exchange opinions about cultural exchange between Korea and Argentina and ways to help export Korean cultural contents to the region in the future.

At a forum with Argentinean broadcasters, a local expert advised that Korea should study Argentineans' preference for a particular movie genre before they enter the local film industry. The Argentinean expert also told the Korean delegation not to hurry or plan to sell or export Korean cultural products in a short period of time. Instead, Korea and Argentina should build understanding based on increased cultural exchanges between the two countries in the long term, the expert added. Without such efforts, promotion of some Korean dramas or films may create buzz but no guarantee of long-term gains by the culture industry

Argentinean broadcasting staff in charge of overseas sales and exports also hope Korea can enter the local market with outstanding cultural products, while staying far-sighted.

The nation's leading TV network Telefe (Channel 11) stressed the significance Korea's penetration of the Argentinean market has had on the company, while expressing their interest in selling their cultural contents to Asia.

Argentina's public television network, ATC, Argentina Telebisora Color, showed active interest in the idea of exchanging both countries' television programs.

America TV, (Channel 2), also said the agency will seriously consider broadcasting Korean dramas if Korea provides TV contents.

Considering the Argentinean media's reactions, the most important task for Korea is to have cultural exchange and allow local people to experience Korean culture rather than concentrating on the selling of Korean cultural contents. Focusing on the sales of Korean cultural products may bring success but that will not be enough to create a long-term profit.

Korea also needs to study the Argentinean market before entering the local culture industry. Due to the cultural uniqueness of their historical, racial and social background, Latin Americans prefer television dramas to any other genres. The most popular television drama in Central and South America now is "Floricienta", a Cinderella story produced by an Argentinean TV network. Importing such dramas to Korean viewers will be a good, long-term business strategy to extend the scale of cultural exchange between the two countries.

Exchanging broadcasting contents will be also a good way to help Korea penetrate the local market.

Providing Korean television contents to Argentina or financial support for the preparation costs are other good ways to support Korean business and the Korean expatriate community in Argentina.

Experts say the common issues of human life such as conflicts, affection and harmony among people rather than exotic locales were the force driving the Korean wave in Asian countries. This is also expected to apply to Central and South American countries.

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