American, Latin, Hallyu: Worldwide Entertainment and Waves

This post is prompted by the somewhat recent comments of actor Sousuke Takaoka in regards of the Korean (Hallyu) Wave in Japan, “Since we’re in Japan, I would like to see Japanese programs. I get scared every time I hear the word, ‘Hallyu’“.

via AllKPop

Of course, since then, Takaoka has already made statements on Twitter [1][2] about having to have someone to stand up before Japanese entertainment loses its essence, and denying the accusations of being racist.

Ever since the Korean entertainment industry began blurring the line of subculture and began leaking onto the mainstream, with segments in places like CNN, BBC, and sometimes leaking onto your local news channel, the Korean Wave — term coined in China back in the late 90s — has been expanding for the past two years with a speed resembling that of the Big Bang — bad pun intended.

But as things with the Mainstream goes, people get tired… even if the Korean Wave has still way to go. If we browse comments, we see a lot of negative people professing they were fans of Kpop, but are now fed up with it. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we’re not doing anyone any favor when we state that American pop culture is “universal.” American pop culture is, well… more popular — and some people are also fed up with it, and looking for alternative pop culture. This time it just happens to be Korean.

It’s not only the expansion of Korean music — hopefully in Korean, and not in a water down English version of it — but also films and television series, often denominated Kdrama for “Korean drama”. While Korean films have also been going through a renaissance of their own not only among critics and festivals, but have also been commercially successful — prompting their own slew of Hollywood remakes, it is the distribution of Kdrama throughout the world that have helped the Korean Wave swept even further.

Things like struggle, love or basic human emotions are universal. We can all relate to a moving story, characters, regardless of their culture and background, as long as they’re compelling — regardless of subtitles. Though many of the shows are broadcast dubbed in the local language, it isn’t rare to find fans “getting” subtitled DVDs of their favorite stars to watch the latest shows.


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

16 Responses

  1. Rodrigo says:

    “and Ricky Martin became a “has-been” because he wasn’t charting on the Billboard Hot 100… when, in fact, he’s just as huge a star everywhere else in the world.”

    Well, he did jump the shark for me after releasing the “She Bangs” song and the album that came with it. And then I started to forget that he existed. He wasn’t really relevant or interesting after he released “She Bangs” until he came out of the closet. He’s a big deal, yes. But for some time, I easily forgot he existed.

    • amy says:

      @Rodrigo, oh you mean – talk to me, tell me your name xD Ricky had a couple of good singles – like Loaded, but then he went on full into the latin-ness with some reggaeton there that really threw me off but it seemed popular with the “latin” crowd. HTV and Ritmoson stuff, since it wasn’t MTV stuff… until his Unplugged, which was… actually quite decent.

      The fact that we forgot it’s not because he wasn’t important, we were all just to wrapped up into new indie music to care. The fact that Shakira was able to stick around doing more “pop” flare than him speaks more of us as audience than them.

      • Rodrigo says:

        @amy, Something about “She Bangs” just took away any interest I had in Martin. Also, chip in that William Hung made a name for himself at the expense of that song and it made Martin’s stock drop low for me.

        Martin isn’t bad for his music genre. When I was young, I liked Vuelve, lol. And yes, it’s hard to give a fuck for him with the indie music out there, but he hasn’t done much of interest or relevance after “She Bangs”, unlike Shakira who stood out regardless of turning blond with some good songs and great strategy tactics. Until now, I didn’t knew Martin did an Unplugged, lol.

        • amy says:

          @Rodrigo, LOL – that’s because I usually watch MTV, Ritmoson and HTV to see what’s going on. Sometimes I don’t even know half the groups, but usually spot the familiar names.

          I even take the time to watch some Latin GRAMMY, even if I disagree with splitting the categories in Spanish/Portuguese, and that most of those wins are based on how popular and renown they are. Martin had actually a really cool song, which he used for the last Latin GRAMMY and worked really well, probably being the highlight of that night.

          Of course, we can also blame our lack of interest in the Latin music scene because Latin Rock and Latin Pop acts of the past few years have been lacking overall. Even someone like Beto Cuevas who had La Ley as a backdrop seems rather… not good.

          People like Vicentico or Andrea Echeverri… or Juanes, they’d never hit it big in the US mainly for not singing in English… which Shakira has. We really need to wonder if she would have been as hugely successful if she had sing Hips Don’t Lie in Spanish.

        • ROXY says:

          @Rodrigo, It’s because we could all sense it already. He was talking about banging chicks when in fact he was going against his nature xD

          I must admit that even in Puerto Rico there was a point when we kinda forgot Ricky was there at all. Especially since he started living in Miami, or wherever, rarely did concerts in the island (while he was touring world wide) and went off to defend sexually exploited children. We rarely heard of him. And we often made fun of his ‘worldy’ accent hehehe

  2. ROXY says:

    People need to stop panicking. It’s called GLOBALIZATION! The internet is spreading cultures all around. It’s so easy to stumble upon foreign music videos on YouTube, fan pages in google, friends-of-friends-of-friends that live in another country in facebook.

    If we’re becoming more and more connected in terms of marketing, business, tourism and studying abroad then it’s only common sense that the entertainment business would spread in the same way.

    Your aunt goes to India, she brings back this awesome shawl she bought in some baazar in New Delhi, your friends loved it, they buy similar ones in e-bay, their friends like it, they do the same. Suddenly there’s a big trend going about. This is how things work now-a-days. This is the beauty of globalization. There might be terrible things brought upon the world by this capitalist philosophy but the fact that we can share our cultures through entertainment is one of those amazing things that it brings forth.

    • amy says:

      @ROXY, right? The internet exploded and gave us access to sooooo many different things, it’s a pity that our industries are still held by region restrictions and localized marketing.

      Digital region restriction is what keeps the digital pirated market so prolific.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @ROXY, “I must admit that even in Puerto Rico there was a point when we kinda forgot Ricky was there at all.”

      Hey Amy, even people from his own country like Roxy forgot that he existed at one point, lol.

  3. ghost says:

    Mr. Miyazaki Aoi was let go from his agency, something understandable – harsh, but understandable… the guy did piss on the networks that feed him.

    To be honest, saying there’s too much “foreign” products in your homeland market is archaic. We’re not called a global world for anything, and the fact that we’ve grown accustomed to American entertainment, doesn’t change the fact that all industries have the right to get into whatever region they deem necessary.

    It’s as if the US would say, oh… we have too much Japanese technology, we would love for more American technology, so we’re going to limit the entry of such products in order to boost ours. It just… doesn’t fly like that.

    • amy says:

      @ghost, in an ideal world… you shouldn’t block another product in order to boost yours. Free market is free market, and though people are free to not want whatever product, people shouldn’t call for boycotts based on the origin of a product.

      Plus pfft. 40hrs. a month! That’s nothing, at least nothing for neighboring countries that produce sooooo much media.

  4. Julili says:

    I will say it like this: It’s not Koreas fault they are better. Japan should really just bring up their game.

    Sounds to me that somebody is salty that Japan is losing their place as “Asias n.1 pop culture country”. Yes, Jpop and Jrock have been extremely popular worldwide, yes, Japan has always been the country ppl have thought off when thinking about Asian music. Not anymore, now Korea is taking over. Not much to do, it’s the circle of life.

    • amy says:

      @Julili, it’s not a matter of who is better. Obviously, to Jpop/Jdrama fanatics, Kpop/Kdrama is not better. Like I’ve said, I’ve only seen 2 Kdramas, and I rather watch Jdrama… but you don’t see me boycotting, do you? LOL

      I do think Japan’s lost the #1 spot in mainstream “subculture” xD I don’t think Jpop was ever this close to breaking into the global mainstream culture. And even though Japan animation is still well regarded, and even won them Oscars and nods, it’s not the same. After all, animation is still a subculture for the mainstream.

      Jrock is even a subculture within Jpop, and its thriving more because JRockers are now touring the world. I mean, when in a million years would Jrockers visit Latin America, Europe, the US? When would you ever imagine that Miyavi would end up giving a concert here (though, it’s still in November… crossing fingers so it doesn’t get cancelled. LOL). This is something Jpop is still not getting – a group like Arashi that counts with a huge fanbase outside Asia, I think it would be the easiest thing to setup concerts in key places… but nothing.

      While JE has just flourished in the Japan market, SME decided to (outside expanding into Japan with Japanese songs… which I’m still against) expand with single concerts somewhere else around the world. SME makes their foreign fans feel included (even when they forget to include Spanish in their Thank You Europe video xD).

      Jpop has always been inward looking, and fans have always had to spend a lot of money to be able to attend their concerts. It just… doesn’t fly like that any longer, at least not in a majority of cases.

  5. ghost says:

    The other day I was watching an opera on a french channel, and there was a Chinese performer front and center. It seems Asians are leaking onto everything entertainment as of lately.

    Wouldn’t have never EVER thought that some Hollywood star like Christian Bale would work with a Chinese filmmaker in a Chinese production… what 30 or 50 years ago?

    • amy says:

      @ghost, well… besides the blatant fear of mixing races that used to be so popular… I do think economically speaking, it’s easier to put in a budget for arts and performances when a country does better. I mean, why would you push the arts if you’re starving, no?

      It’s kind of like… the movie American take over after the war. With Europe’s economy, as well as American economy, on the brink of everyone’s doom… it seems like China and South Korea are thriving. Japan’s on shaky ground… with the whole disaster and the economic downturn — it’s nearly impossible to buy any Japanese goods because it’s so high against the weak dollar.

  1. August 27, 2013

    […] being  filled in part by Lady Gaga [1] and would somehow explain the rise in popularity of Kpop [1] in places like Europe and the Americas (North, Central and […]

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