By Han Sang-hee
Korea Global Media Group will launch "Korea TV", a "hallyu satellite broadcast", to spread Korean cultural contents throughout the Middle East and North Africa this coming July. The broadcaster will be the first private media group to advance into the area.
More than 300 million locals in 27 countries will have access to a number of Korean programs from major broadcasts; including dramas, documentaries and even Korean language programs. All programs will have subtitles or dubbing services in either English or Arabic.
"Middle Easterners and North Africans are actually very similar to Koreans. They cherish family values and also enjoy love stories. As a result, many of the programs are about these themes", Lee Kyu-chung, the president of Korea Global Media Group and Korea TV, told The Korea Times.
The group recently signed a contract with Nilesat103, Egypt's state-run satellite
broadcast company, and will expand their services at one of the nation's biggest media centers, Egyptian Media Production City.
Lee explained that he turned specifically toward the Middle East and North African nations for various reasons.
"The Middle East especially was always reflected as a `closed' area. But with satellites and the Internet roaming through the lives (of the locals), we thought television would be the best way to introduce Korean culture", he said.
The fact that locals enjoy watching television, rather than spending time outside of their homes, was another reason.
"It is true that some places are still under restraints and the people cannot leave their homes freely, so many stay at home and watch television", said Lee.
The company successfully introduced Korean programs to the Middle East in 2005.
"We found out during that period that locals were fond of love stories like `Winter Sonata
' (2002)", said Lee.
But as the perspective toward women, and of women themselves, started to change in recent years, the preferred programs have changed too.
"More women in these rather conservative countries have started working, and this has led the public to turn to programs that depict success stories", Lee explained.
A clear example was the high popularity of "Jewel in the Palace (2003)" ("Dae Jang Geum
"), which was also a big hit in Korea, depicting the life of a young woman who made her way to success during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).
Lee mentioned that Korea TV will not only broadcast Korean programs, but also try to bring the Koreans and locals close together.
"When you look carefully, there are many similarities ― emotionally and culturally. We hope to bridge the gap between the two countries and introduce our culture to them through television", he said.