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Mighty 'Korean Wave' Needs Localization in Japan

2010/02/06 Source

"So you're asking me whether `hallyu' is facing a crisis? I don't think so. Maybe it doesn't have the same almost blind zeal among Japanese it enjoyed during the initial stage. Rather, I think it has entered a stabilization stage", said a Korean movie producer, Shawn Shin, who works in Japan.

The view that hallyu or the Korean wave (the popularity of the Korean culture abroad) hit its apex and stands now on a downhill curve in Japan surfaced in recent years.

But those who work on the frontier of hallyu in Japan flatly reject the view.

The most profitable mobile entertainment contents in Japan are of hallyu. As much as 30 percent of video rented in Japan are also Korean movies and dramas, according to Shin.

A recent survey in Japan supports Shin's view. The Korea Creative Content Agency (KCCA), a government body that promotes and exports Korean culture abroad, in August found that 90 percent of Japanese respondents said the number of Japanese who like to watch the Korean popular culture increased or leveled out. Only six percent said they feel hallyu's influence decreased.

Hong Jung-yong, KCCA chief representative in Japan, said thanks to the popularity of "Dong Bang Shin Gi", one of the hottest and youngest Korean idols today, known in Japan as Tohoshinki and other Korean pop idols, hallyu today in Japan is not just popular among the middle-aged Japanese women, but its fans have expanded and diversified.

Katsuki Yoshiharu who runs a company, called SPO, which imports Korean popular entertainment contents, said "these days, Japanese don't get automatically excited about any Korean drama, but have developed a taste for a certain products they prefer".

Contrary to some concerns, the number of Korean dramas, aired in the Japanese TV also increased from 27 in November 2008 to 42 in June 2009.

While the survey quells worries about the losing popularity of hallyu, experts said Korea should eagerly explore "localization" strategies, including co-production of dramas and movies to maintain popularity of hallyu in Japan.

"The age for unilaterally selling Korean dramas and movies to Japan is over", said Choe Jae-young with the KNTV media group. "We should move into a new business model in which we co-produce contents and seek a win-win results that also reflect the Japanese culture as well".

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