For the film maker must come by his convention, as painters and writers and musicians have done before him. Virginia Woolf
The Reasons Behind the Increasing Market Share of Korean Cinema in East Asia
Cultural flows from the West to the rest of the world are evident all around us, from the clothes we wear to the movies we watch. If you ask a random person on the street to name you five Hollywood actors, they would most likely rattle them off without much thought, but ask them to name five Korean actors and they may not even know one. This is the result of cultural flows from the United States to the rest of the globe, but these flows aren’t necessarily unidirectional. Korean cinema is increasingly being consumed by people in East Asian countries such as Japan, Vietnam, China, Malaysia, and so on, while it enjoys market dominance in its native South Korea. It is the most commercially successful film industry besides Hollywood, and is beginning to challenge the cultural domination of the multi-billion dollar American film industry in Asia.
This begs the question, what is causing this shift in Asian audiences? This phenomenon, as Woongjae Ryoo points out, is partly attributed to the fact that Korean cinema is more relatable for many Asian audiences. Subjects such as love, family difficulties and filial piety are common in Korean film, while Hollywood films are more aligned with Western society and values. South Korean cinema itself was mainly developed in order to quell cultural dominance from China and Japan, but in the process it has become a dominant cultural force itself. The rise of local film industries is not confined to South Korea, as governments in many countries such as Australia have been increasing funding for local film productions. This increase in local production is perhaps a manifestation of an anti-globalisation movement, a consequence of people rejecting the cultural dominance of the Global North.
Korean cinema incorporates elements of both American and Korean culture, therefore making it a cultural hybridisation; Ryoo states that it is favoured by many Asians for not being too Westernised like Japanese media. This may ultimately foster warmer relations in East Asia, as people may no longer view each other as culturally distinct, but as sharing certain cultural characteristics. It is also a way of Korea increasing its soft power in a region heavily centred around China and Japan. It is obvious that this spreading of Korean film across Asia could act as a unifying force, and points to a wider trend of the Global North having its cultural dominance weakened as populations look closer to home for media to consume.
Ryoo, W 2009, Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave, Asian Journal of Communication, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 137-151