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Riding Korean Wave in Thailand

2011/04/25 | 935 views | Permalink | Source

Welcome back.
The Korean wave, also known as the Hallyu, refers to the widespread popularity of Korean pop culture all across the globe.
Having kicked off in China in late 1990s, it has been achieving over one billion dollars in revenue annually for South Korea through cultural exports.

At the heart of the Hallyu craze lies Arirang TV which is picked as one of the main contributors to spreading Korean culture to many different parts of the world.
And marking its 15th anniversary, Arirang TV has hosted a special concert in Thailand where the Korean wave is still all the rage.
We are now joined by our Han Da-eun from Arirang News center to tell us more.
Hello Da-eun.

[Reporter : ] Hello guys.
When the Korean wave first emerged to surface, some experts predicted that it would soon fade out.
But the trend spread to many other countries, especially in the Asian region, and after a decade it's still alive and well.
And Thailand is not an exception.
A speical concert entitled "K-pop Wave in Thailand" was held in the country's capital Bangkok just last week, and believe me, the Hallyu fever was hotter than ever.
And not so surprisingly, the spread of Korean wave which initially began mostly with Korean music, movies or drama series, is not only limited to entertainment now.
Why don't we take a look.

Who said the Korean Wave would die soon
[Reporter : Han Da-eun Jung] "Big stores located at the center of Bangkok, are filled with Korean CDs, DVDs and posters of Korea's beloved K-pop stars. And shop owners say… that the undying love for Korean culture is likely to go strong for quite some time".

[Interview : Pon Toon, Sales Manager Mangpong Record Shop] "Thai teenagers especially like Super Junior, Girls Generation and 2PM. I believe the Korean Wave is not going to die anytime soon".

Young teenage girls clustering around the K-pop section of a CD store can be commonly witnessed, and the local fans know more about Korean pop music than an average Korean.

Chonchaya Yuthanarong
[Interview : Chonchaya Yuthanarong, K-pop Fan] "

At a mall not so far from downtown Bangkok, groups of Thai youngsters are busy learning K-pop stars' dance moves.
Some look quite professional.

[Interview : Rittidej Kheatracha, K-pop Fan ] "We're practicing Beast's dance moves. We're huge fans of their choreographer, Ha Woo-shin".

The rapid spread of the Korean Wave can be mostly attributed to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but broadcasters like Arirang TV and KBS World… are also major contributors.

[Interview : Patchara Sangkiewngom, Student in Bangkok] "I watch Arirang TV very often, mostly to see Korean dramas and music programs. I got to learn a lot about K-pop as well as Korean culture through Arirang. My favorite stars are Jang Geun-suk and Lee Min-ho".

Backed by the unconditional love, a host of popular Korean singers gathered in the country's capital, Bangkok on Thursday… to commemorate Arirang TV's 15th anniversary… as well as to show gratitude for the strong support from local fans.
Hosted and organized by Arirang TV and Thailand's PD creation, the special concert entitled, "K-pop Wave in Thailand" featured Korea's hottest solo and group artists… including 2PM, Kim Tae-woo, SS501 member Kim Hyung-jun, and U-Kiss.

[Interview : Kevin Woo, U-Kiss ] "It's been a long time since we've been to Thailand.
We were here about a year ago and we really wanted to come to Thailand and we're really happy to see Thai fans here"

A huge K-pop fandom has sprung up in the Southeast Asian country… thanks to the continuing Korean Wave and die-hard fans, of course, didn't miss the chance to see their idols in real life in their home country.

[Reporter : Han Da-eun Jung ] "The curtain has yet to be raised but the atmosphere outside the concert hall is feverish. Thousands of local fans have already gathered, very excited to welcome their favorite K-pop stars".

Fans from all across Thailand flooded the outer gates of Impact Arena, a large-scale concert hall located in Bangkok, all hyped up to show their love to the visiting celebrities.

[Interview : Nathanau Chinsuwanpanit, President of SS501 fan club] "We're now here to support Kim Hyung-jun and Park Jung-min-I. Even though the team separated for their solo albums we'll still support them as the group SS501. We'll wait for their comeback".

[Interview : Natha Suwantarat, K-pop fan] "I like Infinite. Because their songs are really good and they're friendly to their fans".

The performing artists wowed the crowed with their mind blowing performances.
Fans screamed ferociously to hard beats and sang along to slow songs… and language barrier was not a problem.
2PM, arguably the hottest idol group in Korea was the headliner and when they took the stage… the show reached its climax with a piercing noise.
The six member boy band in particular, holds a special place to the hearts of Thai fans… as its member named Nichkhun is the first Thai national to feature in a Korean music group.
The energy and passion of the young talented Korean artists… accompanied with systemized producing houses and smart marketing strategies… are also picked as the main reasons behind the huge success of K-pop's globalization.

And the Korean Wave is going beyond the borders of entertainment.
Taekwondo, a Korean sport,… is gaining more and more popularity in Thailand.
Jeong Sung-hee, who runs a taekwondo school in Bangkok, says with the ongoing Hallyu trend, an increasing number of students are enrolling to learn the Korean national sport.

[Interview : Jeong Sung-hee, Master World Best Taekwondo] "The Korean Wave initially began with Korean music and movies, but now it's spreading to many other parts of Thai people's lives and taekwondo is one of them".

Students of every age are eager to master the Korean martial art.

[Interview : Pongsa Korn, Taekwondo Trainee] "Sometimes trainings can be challenging but I really enjoy it. It's fun to exercise with many friends here".

[Interview : Meena Wongmasohe, Taekwondo Trainee] "Taekwondo is helpful not only for physical health but also for mental health. I want to keep training and become better, and become a greater person".

The economist, a well-known British weekly magazine, estimated that cultural exports from Korea increased in value from around 600 million US dollars to nearly 2 billion over ten years.
And it appears the Korean Wave will continue to invade the Asia for years to come,… if not spill over further across the world.

Wow Da-eun, I'm amazed at how local fans in Thailand know all the Korean names and lyrics of K-pop.

[Reporter : ] I was very intrigued. It was actually my first time as well to observe the Hallyu fever this close and it was just amazing to see how the local fans, mostly teenage girls are showing such strong support to foreign celebrities.
But I think what's important now, at this stage, is to seek ways to sustain this trend and develop cultural exports further.

Well thank you Da-eun, for that report.

[Reporter : ] My pleasure.

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