This project explores the Korean wave, Hallyu through access to South Korean television programs. This is how I gained a greater Understanding of South Korea and South Korean content in Western culture. This is a personal autoethnographic narrative and also a layered account to which South Korea is consumed and experiences and the opinions of academic sources and online threads are utilized to understand the culture (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011). Initially this artifact was going to be based on the television program alone. The original trajectory of the artifact was going to be selecting a program and analyzing it in terms of autoenthrographic experience and reflect on Epiphanes during the show. The program I selected after watching a few different shows from Korean culture was called ‘Hello, My Twenties’. But after watching the show, there were quite a few similarities between programs I would typically watch meaning this didn’t expanded my knowledge as much as I would have liked. I also felt that I didn’t know enough about Korean culture to give my response to the text as my results may not have been factual and the credibility of my work may have been biased (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011).
Upon further research of the show and South Korean programs as a whole, the word “Hallyu”, a word I was not familiar with before this project, kept appearing. Hallyu is a term that describes the sudden surge of popularity of Korean content which began in Asia and later spread to the western world (Hogarth 2013, p. 135). Hallyu is a notion that explores Korean Culture to be comparable to Nollywood or Hollywood (Hogarth 2013, p. 149). This is the surge of popular Korean products and exports such as ‘k-pop’, television programs and movies (Jang & Paik 2012, p. 196). Through gaining an interest in this topic of the rising popularity of Korea in the west, from viewing the television programs, I decided to give my auto ethnographic experience of ‘Hello, My Twenties!’ through an analysis of Hallyu.
Access to this content was the biggest concern and then I remembered that Netflix has an international section. This was an epiphany for me that struck the realisation that South Korean content is more accessible than I thought. This shows that globalization is very prominent, and the growing interconnectedness of the world gave me the opportunity to explore South Korea.
For me personally my first known experience with South Korean Culture was through PSY and his hit single Gangnam style and was also how I explored K-pop and discovered a completely new cultural approach to something I am so familiar with being music. This was also a cultural impact for many people in the West (Bacon 2016). I got this same feeling when watching Hello, My Twenties. Something felt so familiar, yet just a slight cultural alteration to the formula I am familiar with. Then I questioned when did Korean culture and Hallyu become so popular? And also what makes them popular? Hello my twenties portrays traditional elements of Korean culture which I discuss in the video which makes it popular for Asian viewers across the globe, and also curiosity from a Western audience. I did notice though that I can’t just listen as this is in another language, I have to be fully engaged and actively view the content to be able to understand the context to absorb the culture. Another thing about the program which I found interesting was the depiction of roles with male and female characters. This show in particular has a lead cast of five females which portray their identities to be strong and independent. Men on the other hand are depicted as caring and gentle, something the female viewers appeal to due to suffering of a male- dominated society.
The characters are complex and well created. It was also seen that TV dramas have the greatest influence for sustaining their audience due to the engagement with the characters (Huat 2010, p. 15). The emphasis of this narrative autoethnography approach, which mostly studies others, so I was studying the text while also analysing it in terms of others. I also had to analyse patterns and process. For the episodes of the programs I watched, I noticed that they mostly have female leads, the episodes are almost always over an hour long, and they start of friendly and positive and usually have a dark twist. But for ‘Hello, my Twenties!’ the formula of each episode followed the focus of one character, there is normally a predicament they face but it is resolved following the next episode.
So overall I really enjoyed the autoethnographic experience, the show was quite interesting and It gave me a pretty good insight into modern South Korean culture. The show was entertaining, it sparked epiphanies for me to which I realised Hallyu is prominent because of internet access, affordable means of access, content being available on Western Websites such as Netflix and YouTube and overall an interest people have in the culture. We did not have this accessibility many years ago. Analysing the text through the notion of Hallyu was me, understanding the popularity of the show and the context of the accessibility for South Korean pop culture.
There may have been limitations to my autoethnographic experience as I was using the narrative format, but I feel as though I researched enough scholarly resources to get an understanding of Hallyu and the popularity of Korean content to make my findings legitimate. The narrative formant looks at texts in the form of stories (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011) which is why I used a television program as this spans over many episodes showing a deep insight into a Korean Text. With this, it may also seem that I used elements of ‘layered accounts’ format (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011) for the project as I questioned what I was viewing with an abstract analysis. I took a television program and then questioned the phenomena of Hallyu. This was my personal insight, I was detailing beyond what I knew and once understood, giving my own personal and cultural assumptions a point of interaction between the cultures (Denshire, 2013, p. 2). This was a truthful experience to which I didn’t use my personal bias so I believe my results were valid. I was able to dictate this experience through blog posts and tweets to which gave an audience and understanding of my experience.
Bacon, C 2016 ‘Why Korean Dramas are Popular’, Reel Rundown, 19 April, viewed 4 September 2017 <https://reelrundown.com/movies/Korean-Wave-Why-Are-Korean-Dramas-Popular>
Denshire, S 2013, ‘Autoethnography’, Sociopedia, vol. 62, no. p, pp. 1-12
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1, viewed 4 September 2017, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>
Gang, G & Paik, WK 2012, ‘Korean Wave as Tool for Korea’s New Cultural Diplomacy, Advances in applied sociology, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 196-202
Hogarth, HK 2013, ‘the Korean Wave: An Asian Reaction to Western-Dominated Globalization’, Perspectives on Global Development & Technology, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 135-151.
Huat, CB 2010, ‘Korean Pop Culture’, Malaysian Journal of Media Studies, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 15-24.
Reddit 2017, ‘[US] Hello, My Twenties! – A delightfully addicting Korean dramedy about five women in a shared house during college. 97% rating from Google users’ Best Of Netflix, viewed 4 September 2017, <https://www.reddit.com/r/bestofnetflix/comments/6aspkd/us_hello_my_twenties_a_delightfully_addicting/>
Said, D 2017, South Korea and Me, WordPress, weblog post, 24 August, viewed 26 October 2017, < https://digc330.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/south-korea-and-me/>
Said, D 2017, Hello, My Twenties!/ Age of Youth, WordPress, weblog post, 24 August, viewed 26 October 2017, < https://digc330.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/hello-my-twenties-age-of-youth/>
옥현주 2017, ‘Korean dramas enjoy huge wave of popularity in US’, The Korea Herald, 3 February, viewed 4 September 2017, <http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170203000842>