It is a poster of Minari, a movie starring Youn Yuh-jung, who won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 93rd Academy Awards.
/Extracted from PANCINEMA
Do you remember the director Bong Joon-ho’s film “Parasite,” which surprised the world with his delicate direction, plot, and actors’ acting skills? Parasite won about 250 awards at international and domestic film festivals as well as the Academy Awards in the United States. It was recorded as the most award-winning film in the history of Korean cinema and further enhanced the status of Korean films. In addition, as overseas consumption of K-pop, Korean movies, and dramas is increasing, their value is widely recognized. Currently, a Korean boy group “BTS” is spreading Korean culture around the world, and the film “Minari” is raising the value of Korean culture and Korean actors following Parasite. That is, Korea is showing the power of “Hallyu” in various fields.
Hallyu means the spread of Korean culture
“Hallyu (Korean Wave)” refers to the phenomenon in which Korean popular culture, including movies, broadcasting, music, and fashion. It became popular in other Asian nations and it has been used since the late 1990s. In February 2000, Chinese media used the term Hallyu to express this phenomenon as the craze for Korean pop culture that began in China, and it became widely known. In a broad sense, it refers to the entire Korean culture, such as human being needs (food, clothing, and shelter). But in most cases, it refers to the overseas consumption of Korean popular culture contents.
On March 15th, a research team at the Korea Europe Center, founded jointly by the Institute of Korean Studies at the Free University of Berlin and KDI School of Public Policy and Management, released a report titled “The Rise of Korea’s Soft Power in Europe-A Survey and Analysis of Public Policy.” The research team conducted an in-depth online survey of 34 experts in Korean studies (belonging to universities and research institutes in 19 European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and France) on their perceptions of Korea. According to this report, 70.6% of experts assessed that modern Korean culture is popular among citizens of their countries, and 94.1% of experts predicted that modern Korean culture would be more popular in their countries in the future. In addition, according to the “2021 Overseas Hallyu Survey,” released on January 28th by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE), “online and mobile platforms” have been the most common routes in the past five years to access Korean culture contents such as dramas, entertainment shows, movies, music, and animations. The contact ratio of these Korean contents also increased compared to the previous year. Among them, music (82.0%) had the highest percentage of contacts through online and mobile platforms in 2020. This survey was conducted with 8,500 people who have experienced Korean cultural contents in 18 countries. In the case of Hallyu consumers’ favorite content, the movie section was followed by Parasite (18.4%), Train to Busan (10.2%), and Peninsula (3.5%). In the Korean singers and groups section, BTS (22.0%), BLACK PINK (13.5%), and PSY (2.9%) had high response rates.
BTS is promoting Korean culture to the world
BTS, called “The Beatles of the 21st Century,” rose to the top of the Billboard 200 chart four times within two years. It is very difficult for a foreign artist to enter the Billboard charts, and to rank top on the Billboard 200 chart is much more challenging. However, “Dynamite,” the song of BTS that reinterpreted disco, became the first Korean song that reached the top of Billboard main single chart, “the Hot 100 chart,” and stayed in it for 32 weeks since its debut in August last year, rewriting the longest entry record for a Korean singer. BTS also achieved 100 million views and 200 million views in the shortest time on YouTube, and they won many awards such as the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards. Moreover, in September 2018, BTS attended the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) “Generation Unlimited” event, held at the United Nations (UN) Trusteeship Council hall at the UN headquarters in New York, and gave a speech for about seven minutes. They were the first Korean singers to give a speech on the stage of the UN General Assembly.
BTS is also playing a significant role in promoting Korean culture to the world, such as Hangeul (Korean alphabet) and Hanbok (Korean traditional clothes). “Learn! KOREAN with BTS,” a Korean language study textbook created by HYBE (the agency of BTS), has sold about 300 thousand copies in 30 countries around the world, including Japan, the United States, and Germany. In addition, it is used as an official textbook for Korean language courses at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and Middlebury College in the United States. As this Korean textbook achieved great results, on April 26th, HYBE launched the second Korean textbook of BTS, “Learn! KOREAN with TinyTAN,” for beginner learners who have never learned Korean before.
In October 2020, on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” a famous American talk show, BTS wore Hanbok and performed at the Geunjeongjeon Hall and Gyeonghoeru Pavilion in Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was very meaningful since both the performance and the place, which were broadcasted abroad, represent Korea. The unique hanbok suits worn during this performance drew many people’s attention, and the performance costume that was worn by a BTS member was exhibited at the “K-Pop X Hanbok” exhibition held from April 13th to 25th.
Minari has been recognized for the greatness of Korean culture all over the world
The movie Minari is a film about the autobiographical story of Korean-American director Lee Isaac Chung, who wrote and directed this film. It is set in the 1980s, depicting a Korean family who immigrated to the United States. It is classified as an American film since it was produced by an American film company. Moreover, this film is directed by Lee Issac Chung, who was born in the United States, and Steven Yeun, who is active in Hollywood, starred in this movie. However, considering that Korean actors such as Han Ye-ri and Youn Yuh-jung appear in the film and Korean is used in more than half of the movie scenes, there is a strong Korean side to the subject matter. Furthermore, this is the story of a Korean family.
In the United States, Minari was released in some theaters on a limited basis since December 11th last year, and it was released widely in the United States on February 12th. Also, in Korea, it was released on March 3rd this year. In Korea, Minari attracted one million viewers on May 1st, 60 days after its release. At the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Minari received the U.S. Dramatic grand jury and audience awards. Moreover, it was recognized for its cinematic quality at many awards, including the Golden Globe Awards.
Actress Youn Yuh-jung won many awards through the movie. The total number of trophies she has received so far is 38. Especially, on April 25th, she won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 93rd Academy Awards organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is very meaningful that an Asian actor, not an American or English-speaking actor won the award, not just being nominated. It is the first time in 64 years that an Asian actor has won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and it is the first time for a Korean to win it. Many people are enthusiastic about actress “Youn Yuh-jung” as can be seen in the subrun of her debut film “Woman of Fire (produced in 1971)” in 36 theaters nationwide on May 1st, or the broadcasting of “Docu Insight-Documentary Youn Yuh-jung” on KBS1 channel. Actress Youn’s unique, witty acceptance speech also led to her being selected as the person who gave the best acceptance speech by the New York Times.
Korea is growing further through Hallyu
Hallyu, which is becoming more and more famous worldwide, also helps to establish a positive image for Korea. According to the “2020 National Image Survey Report” conducted by the Korean Culture and Information Service of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korean modern culture (such as movies, K-pop, and dramas) reached 3.83 out of five points in 2019. However, in 2020, it scored 4.04 points. It can be seen that the preference of Korean culture has increased. In addition, Korean contents industry exports also increased due to Hallyu. According to the results of the “Survey of Contents Industry Statistics” released by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in May 2020, exports of the contents industry recorded a high growth rate of 16.4% for five years (2015-2019). The amount of export in 2019 surpassed 10 billion dollars for the first time.
Lee, a student of Dongguk University, said, “Many Korean popular cultures, such as Minari and BTS, are highly praised around the world, so I get a lot of pride in Korea. In addition, Korean novels and Korean dramas are also becoming increasingly popular among foreigners. This means that Korea’s artistry is being recognized worldwide. In the future, I hope that this craze of Hallyu help foreigners have a positive image of Korea and reduce racist incident such as racist assault or crime against Asians.”
After Parasite, Minari also won many awards, showing that Korean culture is being recognized worldwide and that the artistic sensitivity of Koreans has secured global universality. In addition, Korean culture is setting an amazing record in various fields, including BTS, which is loved by people around the world, promoting Korean culture. In the future, the power of Hallyu will be even stronger.
Eom Hye-rin firstname.lastname@example.org
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