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Japan and South Korea are building on a long interest in a country notable for its cheap labour and 90m-strong consumer market. From Hanoi’s point of view, there is a political imperative to draw more foreign investment because of structural economic problems such as bad debts and inefficient state companies, which have dragged Vietnam’s growth down from above 7 per cent a year before the western financial crisis to 5.4 per cent in 2013.

Korea plans to seek strategic cooperation with relevant countries including the United States and China as a means of paving a way toward unification as well as to denuclearize North Korea, the foreign ministry announced, Monday.

To many Americans, globalization may mean Americanization but, in China, globalization is Koreanization. This is the impact of Hallyu (the Korean word for “Korean wave”), which began in 1997. Hallyu began with Korean television dramas and today extends throughout Chinese life: k-drama, k-pop, movies, fashion, food, and beauty.  It is argued to be the only example of a cultural power “that threatens the dominance of American culture.”

With Abe now entrenched as Japan’s most powerful leader in years, having comfortably secured another term through last weekend’s snap election, Japan’s diplomatic spats over its past misdeeds, especially when it involves South Korea, may well get worse before it gets any better. And if relations do deteriorate further, we are likely to see more American commentators urging Japan to show greater remorse for wartime actions vis-à-vis its neighbor.

As Japan and South Korea have shown, the best way for governments to encourage pop culture with global appeal is probably to stay out of the way. China’s President Xi Jinping disagrees.

Indeed, in the era of globalization, nation brand image is more necessary than ever; an increasing number of governments attempt to use the power of commercial branding techniques to valorize their country's image. 

Sohn Jie-Ae, dubbed one of the most powerful women in Asian media until her March exit from the network, spent an hour providing anecdote-filled, firsthand insight into Korea’s booming pop culture for a discussion titled “K-pop Mania: South Korea’s Place Under the Sun.” The event was organized by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and co-sponsored by USC East Asian Studies Center and the Korean Studies Institute

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