The Rise of Korean Cinema

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.

References

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

 

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The Illusion of Superiority

Insularity is the foundation of ethnocentrism and intolerance; when you only know of those like yourself, it is easy to imagine that you are alone in the world or alone in being good and right in the world.  Jack David Eller

Our Interactions with People from Other Cultures Effects Our Attitudes About Our Own Culture

Ethnocentrism can be defined as the belief that one’s own culture is superior to other cultures. Simon Marginson points out that having little or no intercultural encounters may lead to an increase in ethnocentric beliefs. This concept of intercultural encounters, which refers to people from different cultural backgrounds sharing experiences together, ties in with group identity. Part of group identity is the acceptance of certain people into that group and the rejection of others. Citizenship is a clear example of this, as people who hold Australian citizenship reap all the benefits and form the in-group, while those who do not are excluded from the same benefits and consequently form the out-group.

The fact that group identities exist means there will always be rivalries and conflict between different groups due to competing interests. Colonialism is a conspicuous example of conflict between different groups based on differing identities. The colonial power will usually try to impose their own culture on the indigenous population because of the belief that their culture is superior. This paints the world as black and white, as individuals will view their group as good and the other as bad, even if they have no knowledge of the other group’s culture. While there is nothing wrong with pride for one’s own culture, believing it is better than all other cultures is not based on any objective measure, and is usually the result of a parochial lifestyle. The saying that we always fear what we do not know applies perfectly to these situations, as it is much easier to hate something unknown than to accept it.

In an era of rapid globalisation, the knowledge of other cultures has increased profoundly, but this has not resulted in large masses of people adopting a cosmopolitan worldview. Cosmopolitanism is the belief of the existence of a single human community rather than many separate ones. Most people still identify with a group of some sort, whether it be a national, religious or ethnic community. Some people may argue that it is human nature to associate with a particular group, which makes the idea of a single human community a lost cause. Contrary to popular belief, cosmopolitanism is not a new belief, with Socrates once stating “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world”. Perhaps he was pointing out that while he may have been a citizen of Athens, he was still a member of the human race, and that we should look past our differences and focus on our similarities.

References

Marginson, S 2012, ‘International Education as Self Formation: Morphing a Profit-Making Business Into an Intercultural Experience’, lecture, University of Melbourne, delivered 21 February

 

 

To Trade or Not to Trade?

A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas     Victor Hugo

The Pros and Cons of Free Trade and its Effect on the Australian Economy

Globalisation is a process involving the removal of the barriers to the transfer of information, culture, labour and capital between communities in order to create an integrated international community. One aspect of globalisation is free trade, which can be defined as “trade amongst countries that is free of such government interference as quotas, subsidies and tariffs”. It is one of the tenets of neoliberalism and is viewed as one of the primary ways through which to grow the economies of both developing and developed countries.

But what is the real cost of free trade? Many people are skeptical of the benefits of free trade, as many manufacturing jobs in developed countries have been moved overseas where labour is cheaper, causing whole industries to vanish in some cases. It also causes many countries to become heavily reliant on exports and imports which are vulnerable to exchange rate fluctuations. On the other hand, it reduces the cost of manufacturing goods which subsequently keeps retail prices low, and creates employment opportunities for impoverished people in developing countries. The Australian Bureau of Statistics monitors the volume of trade with several of our trading partners which can be useful in determining how trade impacts on the Australian economy.

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An example of Australia implementing free trade policies is the numerous free trade agreements that have been signed over the past decade, one of them being the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It came into effect in December 2015 and reduced Chinese tariffs on Australian exports such as dairy, wine, beef and wool. Considering China is our largest trading partner, accounting for approximately 33% of our total trade in 2014, this free trade agreement helped to grow the Australian and Chinese economies and created thousands of jobs for Australians. On the other hand, the very high cost of Australian labour and the reduction of import tariffs meant automakers such as Holden have moved their manufacturing facilities from Australian to China, where labour is much cheaper. In this case, the benefits of lowering tariffs meant more Australian exports could be sold overseas, thereby generating new jobs locally; however, job losses did occur due to labour costs being lower overseas. Tariffs used to act as a way to counteract the importation of cheaper foreign-made goods by increasing their prices, but economists generally agree that this is inefficient and hinders economic growth. Based on this evidence, governments should attempt to remove trade barriers where it would create the largest benefits for the local population, but maintain legislative safeguards to prevent anti-competitive trading practices such as dumping. In this way, economies can grow through increased trade without having to destroy local industries with cheaper imported products.

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014, A Country Case Study – China, cat. no. 5368.0, viewed 15 August 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/featurearticlesbytitle/6273F9F94262C003CA257F680014A8BE?OpenDocument&gt;

O’Shaughnessy, M 2012, ‘Globalisation’, in Media and Society, 5th ed, Oxford University Press, Melbourne