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Looking Forward to the Era of Hallyu 3.0
Girls` Generation, a leading K-pop group, reportedly has been invited to a popular French TV talk show to be aired on February 10. Last week, the nine-member vocal group appeared in three major TV talk shows on U.S. networks. The Korean Wave, or hallyu, is taking the world by storm. Even in Eastern Europe and South America, our young musicians` songs and dances have begun creating a sensation. Korean popular culture is obviously turning into a global phenomenon, excluding only the reclusive North Korea.
Until recently, TV drama series and pop music had led the overseas craze for Korean popular culture. Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism launched the “K-Culture Promotion Task Force” on January 30. The new initiative is part of the ministry`s efforts to broaden the culture export boom. The ministry declared the task force will help usher in the era of “hallyu 3.0,” setting its initial goal on the “creative development of traditional culture.”
Traditional Korean culture, which has been under-promoted in view of Korea`s national strength, certainly deserves re-evaluation. This sounds even more relevant considering that a successful blend of tradition and modern elements was the essential factor underlying the widespread popularity of not only “Dae Jang Geum” (Jewel in the Palace), the first hit drama series that triggered the Korean Wave, but also the more recent dramas such as “A Tree with Deep Roots” and “The Slave Hunters.”
Traditional culture is a treasure trove that can imbue the Korean Wave with sustainable vitality. In this regard, the “Story Theme Park” disclosed by the Korean Studies Advancement Center on February 7 is another encouraging sign. The “theme park” provides online search of stories excerpted from a great variety of diaries and journals written during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Though a fledging project, it may develop into extensive endeavors to upgrade the infrastructure of history-related content in ways similar to the translation of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty into modern Korean and digitization of its content in the 1990s.
The era of hallyu 3.0 requires the strengthening of the nation`s cultural capacities based on the humanities. Experts in the humanities should be able to provide content to give the much-needed depth to Korean pop culture in diverse ways. To that end, key agencies such as the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Institute for the Translation of Korean Classics and the Presidential Council on Nation Branding should wrack their brains together.
The K-Culture Promotion Task Force will reportedly be led by the first vice culture minister, with heads of the planning and coordination, and culture and arts departments and concerned working-level officials to form a sort of “hallyu think tank.” It should not end up falling into a bureaucratic routine at the beginning of the year.
There is an important question to be asked at this juncture. Would there have been hallyu, if the Republic of Korea had remained economically impoverished and politically unstable? The global community must be actively responding to our dynamic dance movements because they highly regard the successful economic growth and political democracy that we have achieved in the past six decades. Now, we also look forward to the reassessment of our 5,000-year-old history and traditions.