Hal­lyu hur­rah

Korean cul­ture rides in on mo­bile tech­nol­ogy.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By HE WEI

FLANKED by a DJ and a drum­mer, South Korean pop group EXO saun­tered onto the stage at the Hu­nan Satel­lite TV sta­tion re­cently, join­ing the line-up for the Lan­tern Fes­ti­val Show. The stu­dio was flooded with fans hold­ing light sticks in var­i­ous colours, sig­ni­fy­ing al­le­giance to one or other group mem­ber.

On the same day, thou­sands of kilo­me­tres away at Shang­hai’s Pudong In­ter­na­tional Air­port, the ar­rival of heart­throb Lee Min-ho, who starred in the TV se­ries The Heirs, at­tracted a hard­core of young women will­ing to pay 3,800 yuan (RM2,000) to ac­cess his half-hour me­dia brief­ing.

“I’m to­tally at­tracted by his slim fig­ure, chis­elled abs and per­fect com­plex­ion,” said Li Min, a pri­mary school teacher in Shang­hai, who rushed to the scene for her dear­est “oppa”, a re­spect­ful Korean term used by women to re­fer to older males.

The pop­u­lar­ity of the mo­bile In­ter­net has helped to pro­mote the phe­nom­e­non of Hal­lyu – or the wave of South Korean cul­ture flood­ing other coun­tries. Live con­certs and en­ter­tain­ment shows be­come im­me­di­ately avail­able to thou­sands of die-hard fans who dis­cuss end­lessly the where­abouts of their favourite celebri­ties.

Avid view­ers of the South Korean drama My Love From The Star took note when the fe­male pro­tag­o­nist said she adored “beer and fried chicken” as her favourite food when the first win­ter snow be­gan to fall. Bar­be­cue houses and le­mon­ade booths along Hongquan Road in Shang­hai’s Korean area have be­come new favourites for Chi­nese women hun­gry for a gen­uine taste of Korea.

“I lined up for three hours sim­ply to get a piece of fried chicken. It was on a work-day af­ter­noon and rain­ing heav­ily. Like-minded friends of­ten go there ev­ery month,” said Zhang Yut­ing, a big fan of Korean cul­ture, who takes trips to South Korea to watch con­certs ev­ery year.

The droves of people and the long lines are of­ten seek­ing the spicy side dish kim­chi or a spicy broth con­tain­ing soft tofu, clams and an egg, said Kim Gi-chan, owner of Korean restau­rant Gubaowu.

“My store usu­ally closes at 10.30 pm. But I haven’t fin­ished work be­fore 3am ev­ery day since Jan­uary. Fried chicken is the must-or­der dish for each ta­ble,” he said.

Zhou Zhou, a stu­dent at Bei­jing For­eign Stud­ies Univer­sity, who took three ex­change pro­grammes in Seoul and found pop­u­lar items there and in Bei­jing were “strik­ingly sim­i­lar”, said, “Clearly the shows help pop­u­larise street food and spicy stews that are es­sen­tial to the Korean heart and di­ges­tive tract.”

The real draw is the cross­over be­tween East­ern and Western cul­tures, said Dai Yunjie, a sea­soned con­cert pro­moter in Shang­hai.

“The per­form­ers’ syn­chro­nised dance moves and hand ges­tures do have an Asian flavour, but their mu­sic is re­ally blended with Western el­e­ments, like hip-hop and rap­ping,” said Dai.

In­tru­sive ads and a “goingmobile” trend have in part helped the Hal­lyu phe­nom­e­non to pro­lif­er­ate, said Michael Tang, pres­i­dent of hdtMEDIA, a dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany.

“As people make trips to South Korea and see the lat­est line-ups or make big pur­chases, they are ea­ger to ‘share’ in­stantly via Weibo or WeChat. It helps things to go vi­ral much quicker than be­fore,” he said.

The grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of Korean cul­ture may also de­rive from a ma­tur­ing busi­ness model, by which shows are tai­lored to the tastes of Chi­nese view­ers, said Eric Moon, a se­nior man­ager at a South Korean firm in Shang­hai.

“We are see­ing a steady growth of Chi­nese indige­nous en­ter­tain­ment shows in which more in­ter­na­tional el­e­ments are in­cluded. At the end of the day, the trend may even be re­versed, with Kore­ans em­brac­ing a sim­i­lar crav­ing for Chi­nese prod­ucts,” Moon said. – China Daily/Asia News Net­work

South Korean group eXO on stage at the K-Pop awards in Seoul re­cently. — aFP

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