From BTS to Samsung, in South Korea, the sweet madness of a conquering culture

In 2018, 22-year-old Alice chose to go to Seoul, South Korea, for a study trip. “I had the choice between different countries like the United States, Great Britain or Australia… but it was a bit mundane for me, I wanted to discover a totally different culture that was unlike any other. »

At the origin of her choice, Alice evokes K-pop, (for Korean-pop), this very rhythmic and so singular music on which dance boy bands barely out of adolescence. As for millions of young people around the world, this “weapon of mass seduction” South Korean knew how to magnetize Alice, who spent a year at a university in Seoul.

“Known by all and adored by young people around the world”

“Twenty years ago, Korea was a small, unknown country, reduced in the imagination to harsh images of war, the Moon sect and cars, recalls Juliette Morillot, specialist in Korean culture. Today, Korea is known to everyone and adored by young people around the world. » Stuck between the Chinese and Japanese powers, the small South Korea had to invent and innovate to find a place for itself.

“Korean soft power took the world by surprise”, enthuses Juliette Morillot who cites, in addition to K-Pop, Korean culture and its products: K-dramas, cinema, gastronomy, K-beauty and even the Korean language. All submerge the planet in a sort of masterful revenge on history. And this wave has a name: hallyu, literally “Korean wave”.

“Making cool and making money”

Emerging from a terrible military dictatorship at the end of the 1980s, South Korea is surfing with agility and creativity on the wave of globalization and the Internet. Democratic governments have created ex nihilo a Korean soft power through an entertainment industry that has been exported across the entire planet. A cultural office and an investment fund for the development of popular culture are created. The major industrial groups, the chaebol (notably Samsung and Daewoo), are investing. Their objective : “Making cool and making money”, explains Juliette Morillot. Nearly $5 billion in 2020.

Today, Korea is reaping the benefits of this crazy bet launched twenty years ago. In 2019, the movie Parasite by Boon Joon-ho won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and four Oscars in Hollywood. In 2021, the series Squid Game, broadcast on Netflix, became in a few days a worldwide success. And the BTS group remained ten weeks at the top of the American Top 100, adored by billions of fans…

Source : BBN NEWS

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