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Korean Wave Hits the American Coast

2005/12/15 | Permalink | Source

It has been close to five years since the Korean Wave, or"Hallyu", came rushing into Northeast and Southeast Asia, making Korean songs, movies, dramas and food a stable. There are signs that the Korean fever flowing right through the center of the United States with the formal launch of the much heralded ImagineAsian TV Network (IATV) a few weeks ago. This new network plans to broadcast a number of Korean soap operas for an American audience. More recently, there has been a rapid increase in the number of Asian Americans from a variety of backgrounds, as well as other groups, who have taken to the culture of "Hallyu" as well.

There are roughly 10 million Asian Americans in the U.S., and according to a recent report released by Korea's Donga Newspaper on December 12, 2005, the beginning of "Hallyu" phenomenon in the U.S. started from an audience among Chinese, Japanese and Philippine Americans living in major urban centers such as New York and Los Angeles.

"The storyline of Korean dramas are so dramatic that they make you want to keep watching it more as it goes on", exclaims one female reporter for a Chinese newspaper company in the U.S., who is Addicted to popular soap opera, Dae Jang Geum, starring Lee Young-ae. The reporter also mentions her most recent hobbies that evolve around "Hallyu" by saying, "My interests are on Korean music, films and food, also".

The Korean soap operas are so popular among non-Korean viewers that there are translation works sprouting up in Korea at this moment, to try to keep up with the demand. The Chinese local video rental stores in Queens and Flushing are swarmed with viewers who request Korean soap operas and films. As a result, about half of its rentals consist of Korean videos.

The expanded interests also reaches into the music industry as Kim Jung-seok of "AM Music", located on 32nd Street in Manhattan (the Korea Town), clearly witnesses the variety of customers shopping in his store, "Only about 30% of the customers are Koreans and the DVD for 'My Name is Kim Sam-soon' is certainly not inexpensive-at $110-but instead, we cannot keep up with the overwhelming demands".

Judging from the scale of this Korean "fever" of Korean contemporary culture, it is here to stay and will be a valuable commodity with strong cultural and international significance attached.

By Kayon Park

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