K-pop, culture and development

I see that at least the media was not exaggerating about the so-called Korean wave but I didn’t want to believe because I really hated the nationalism in their tone of voice. In most cases they include an ordinary citizen, who has nothing related to the Korean wave stars, saying “proud to be Korean” in their quasi-nationalist-state-propaganda, as if the total strangers’ success is by itself his/her success as well as Samsung’s success is his/hers.

This is definitely old-fashioned nationalist sentiment and one of the major properties of the SK culture: a hyper-modern economy due to an ultra-rapid development with a pre-modern—militaristic, nationalistic—state of mind. In the past half a century’s densely compressed development was possible, I guess, by this state of mind—selection and concentration of resources, like a military operation, conducted by real-life military officers—but it will be an obstacle to a further development, which is on the another plane of society and culture, during the approaching half a century.

I see a resemblance between the current state of the Korean wave—especially in the music industry—and the past history of development in SK. Bodies under a strict, militaristic discipline, produced in an industrial manner, exploited by the bureaucrat-capitalists. The glittering, glamorous bodies of young boys and girls proudly presents the current economic status of SK but unfortunately I don’t see any flavor of culture in them, at least in my point of view that a mere product from a conveyor belt is not a product of culture, which is quite romanticist, I admit.

The question is, is this Korean wave these days sustainable? My answer is very negative. Yet I see any cultural flavor that may attract minds from foreign cultures. I ask almost everyone I meet in person about what they think is drawing foreign attentions in the K-pop. Music? Most of them are rip-offs of the US or Japan hit singles. So far our best answer is the bodies, their appearance. And an additional one of my own is a whimsical interest of western teens for something exotic, which is intrinsically—because it’s whimsical!—unsustainable. What if Chinese girl band, consists of those who were chosen amongst 1.5 billion people of the vast continent, trained under a strict-as-Foxconn discipline, turns out?

It seems that it takes a long while for an economic substructure to have an impact on a cultural superstructure. The US, Europe and Japan successfully accomplished this cultural development more or less. I think the cultural development is one of the crucial factors in making of the advanced economy. So, will the voracious beast of globalization awaits culturallydeveloping countries like SK to blossom? This is the mission SK has got.

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