Korean Wave: 4 Things to Learn And Unlearn

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As the Korean wave spreads through the globe, let’s look at some of its benefits and its side effects.

The Korean wave has taken India since the end of the 20th century, and at present, it’s at the crest.

Let’s look at some of Korean wave perks:

1. Culture knowledge

On the surface, the culture in South Korea is a lot similar to Indian culture. In terms of respecting ones’ elders with appropriate formality, living in a joint family, cut-throat competition at the academic level, getting into renowned universities and concerning the beauty standards. Binging on k-dramas or fan-following a K-pop group or an idol exposes a person to South Korea’s culture.

These facts make it easy for us to watch K-Dramas. Apart from that, a person also gets an insight into the nation’s festivals, history, heritage and technology, which are depicted compellingly.

2. New language

Belonging to a country like India, home to different cultures, many citizens are thorough or partially adept at multiple languages. Adding another South-Asian language to that list can only be a boon.

Being a frequent viewer of k-dramas or watching content related to the K-pop group you stan makes you aware of some frequently used phrases. Once you are clear on the basic vowels and consonants of Hangul (writing system of Korean language), you at least become fluent in beginner’s Korean. Of course, to master it, there is all kind of grammar, formality levels, etc.

But at least you know how to say “Hello!”, i.e., “Annyeonghaseyo!”

3. Marketing

The most significant thing to learn from a k-drama, especially a K-pop group, is their marketing skills. They are genius at it; they ace it from a simple cup of instant noodles to an android, a K-pop product or even banana milk. Notable and local brands together have learned to take advantage of it.

BTS Ad With Coca Cola, a sign of Korean wave
Source: Branding in Asia Magazine

For example, the minute an idol like BTS, BlackPink, IU or EXO, and many more, as well as actors or actresses, are seen wearing something or using something, or even eating or drinking something, they sell out.

Let’s look at some of its drawbacks:

1. Developing complexes

Watching k-dramas or following an idol is mentally healthy if a person does not get a complex. The screen appearance of a star or even their v-lives (South Korea’s live video streaming service) in the case of idols, the clothes they wear, their fit bodies and the kind of lifestyle they live can sometimes become a lot to take. People might develop complexes regarding their figure, skin tone, or achievements.

Always be conscious that they sacrificed a lot to be where they are right now, still are. All the flash and fame might look good outside, but we are not privy to the behind-the-scenes.

2. Addiction to fiction

Escapism to the world of fiction and fantasy is only pleasing and acceptable to a certain extent. The portrayal of a “happy-ending” drama and the characters, which are made to appear so genuine, caring and soft, might blind a person to reality. Getting strung on it can lead to addiction, and a wake-up call of truth in that state can be harmful to a person.

3. Expenditures

As previously remarked, the marketing skills displayed in K-Dramas or promoting an album of a K-pop group is commendable. Hence, fans storm the stores or the internet to get the products or an album before they get sold out. Getting some of these products in India is tough, and so when ordered online, the delivery charges are sky-high.

Apart from that, fans also buy a membership to the official fan club of their groups. Of course, it is an individual’s choice to spend their money on things they like, but many times, there are many unnecessary expenditures that the fans are unaware of.

4. Competitiveness and Struggle

These are qualities that are advisable to both learn and unlearn.

Healthy competition, especially with yourself, is beneficial to a person as long as they don’t lose sight of their goals. And sacrifices, however small, are required to achieve those goals. These are sometimes portrayed impeccably in dramas.

Take, for example, in theatres; high school students are shown as trying their best to get admissions in the top-tier universities while working part-time jobs to support their families. These types of scenes are relatable to some people. They also reveal the harsh realities of life.

But as mentioned above, to obtain a life of fame and luxury, the idols, actors and actresses, go through unfathomable hurdles. They put in their all to remain at the top and please their fans. Heroes, recruited at a young age, technically give up their whole lives. It is their choice, but that level of competitiveness and sacrifice, something the fans can sympathize with, remains an enigma to them.

The brutality of these values is also represented in dramas. Also, the disparity in socioeconomic status is superbly highlighted in some shows, which also induces competition and struggle. These values, if understood correctly, can be pretty helpful. But as shown in some of the dramas, they can also harm a young mind.

All these points might hold for other dramas of a different nationality, but what makes someone fixated on k-dramas or drive them to stan K-pop idol(s) or group(s) is how they are presented to the public. In my personal opinion, the one word to describe that would be enchanting.

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