Korean Cinema

Okay, so we have spoken about globalisation in the essence that our world is getting smaller, and national boundaries are closing; we have talked about cultural appropriation in terms of using elements of one culture in a negative way; and finally, international students and the need to interact and learn from them more. Now its time to talk about Korean cinema, and how it can be seen as a media example of cultural hybridisation – that is, how Korean culture has essentially had an influence on not only the film industry, but on Australia and other Asian countries in general.


Woongjai, 2009 argues  argues that the ‘Korean wave is an indication of new global, as well as local, transformations in the cultural and the economic arena,’ and I completely agree. Asia, in particular Korea has seen to have a huge impact on the western world in terms of culture, what we watch, who we look up to, how we dress, trade, investment, global communication as well as film production and consumption. These trends, according to Woongjai, are particularly evident in the recent popularity of South Korean cinema and culture.

“Along with the strong tides of global economy and culture coursing through the Asian region, the last decade has also witnessed the development of a unique pattern of media production, distribution and consumption, in which one can see the signs of an increased diversity of originating nationalities.” – Woongjai, 2009.

With the rise of cable TV, the internet and satellite, new media channels and avenues of distribution have become evident, which has played a huge part in the popularity and growth of Korean film and global film in general. ‘South Korea has become the seventh-largest film market in the world, with national film attendance totals by 2000 exceeding 70 million.’

The recognition of such Korean films has lead to this ‘Korean wave’ or phenomenon. The term ‘Korean wave’ simply refers to the popularity of South Korean popular culture in other Asian countries, including Australia.

Modern Korean cinema is growing in interest, importance and relevance; and is getting the attention of Hollywood, film critics and film studies. Shin, C.Y., 2005, also describes Korean cinema as a ‘cultural phenomenon.’

“South Korean Cinema is finding it place in the sun. At the dawn of the new millennium, the growing enthusiasm for Korean movies is evidenced by intense activity on multiple fronts.”

In summary, Korean Cinema can be seen as another platform, or ‘lens’ by which cultural hybridisation and globalisation and its effects can be understood and appreciated.

Have you watched a Korean film? or do you want to? Here are the Top 10 Korean films of 2015 if you’re interested in getting more of a taste of the ‘Korean Wave.’



Globalisation and Cultural Appropriation

I’m sure we can all agree that the internet and trade has shrunk national borders in terms of communication, accessibility, and time, making it so easy to buy anything online from anywhere in the world; watch anything from anywhere in the world; experience and learn from areas all over the world; and even travel the world at a significantly lower price than ever before. This all comes down to globalisation of communication.

O’shaughnessy, 2012 says that globalisation has been shaped by economic, political, and military interests, as well as technological innovation, which in contemporary society largely includes social media and the internet.

O’shaughnessy says globalisation of communication is characterised by:

“Instantaneity, interconnectedness, interdependence, and a trend towards corporate mergers and conglomeration.”

Cultural appropriation however has become an issue due to globalisation. Different cultures, religions and beliefs have become much more accessible and exposed to the world with a click of a finger. Whether that be through social media platforms, books, education or television; many cultures are exposed to others.

Cultural appropriation basically means that a dominant culture uses elements of a minority culture, and often exploits that particular culture. This can be seen in offensive dressing such as wearing Indian gems worn to festivals that are sacred and meaningful to that culture.

Katy Perry can be used as an example of someone (a very well-known someone) who constantly uses cultural appropriation in her music videos.

2013 American Music Awards - Show
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 24: Katy Perry performs onstage at the 2013 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

The image above was taken from her opening performance at the 2013 American Music Awards and was widely criticised for her ‘racist’ imitation of Japanese culture and her ‘unhealthy fascination with Geisha’s.’

‘During the performance, Perry donned what many termed “yellow face” while dressed up as a geisha, culturally appropriating and misaligning a portion of Japanese entertainment typically performed in a much more socially aware context.’

Take a look for yourself; what is your view on cultural appropriation?