The mass media are a variety of media technologies that are meant to reach large populations of people within the shortest time possible through mass communication. Thanks to technology, various media of communication exist today, in different and diverse forms. The broadcast media include radio, television, newspapers, Internet, books, and recorded audio and visual materials (Gunaratne 2000). Most of the mass media are electronic and use various technologies. There also exist print media such as newspapers, pamphlets, and books. However, all the mass media tools have one aim: to transmit information. Outdoor media are forms of information transmission that use billboards. Public speaking is a form of the mass media. There also exist the digital mass media that include the Internet and mobile phones. Emails and blogs can serve as examples of the digital mass media.
Have the mass media positively impacted on the lives of Asian people? What trends have been in mass media communication in Asia? At what speed have the technologies advanced? The effects of entertainment on Asian people will be of particular interest.
Recently, South Korea and China have made major milestones in terms of technological products they have brought into the market. The proliferation of their products into the market has had both economic and social impacts on the lives of the citizens. The impacts have been both positive and negative. Mass communication has changed the way people communicate. Communication is a basic aspect of people’s daily life. The world today is a global village where information can be easily passed and shared within a short time. However, particular attention will be paid to the effects of the mass media on Korea. South Korea is going to be of particular interest, the reason being that there has been a Korean wave recently.
The Korean Wave in Asia
The Korean wave refers to the increasing popularity of South Korean culture and entertainment that has been witnessed in Asia from the 1990s to date. Recently, the Korean wave has spread to other parts of the world. This wave is a surge or sudden interest in the culture of the Korean people. Suddenly, South Korea is gaining international visibility and recognition. People from various parts of the world want to associate with the culture of the South Korean people. The term “Korean wave” was coined by media personalities who were surprised by the surge in popularity of the Korean entertainment and culture.
Before the late 1990s, there was no special interest in the Korean culture and entertainment. Perhaps, the television series of drama and culture have led to the current situation. The late 1990s witnessed the spread of television drama across Asia, especially in East Asia and South Asia. Korean pop music films are very popular on YouTube today. The spread of this trend can be visible in South and Latin America. In particular, the youths have helped to spread the wave, especially through the mass media like YouTube. Today the culture is present in Africa and other parts of the world. Following the Asian financial crisis of 1997, in which investors put a lot of money into conglomerates, Asian businesspeople shifted their attention to the entertainment industry. This perhaps explains the rise in popularity of the movies and comedy series they produce. This trend towards the entertainment popularity has forced the South Korean government to intervene in a bid to boost the entertainment industry and market it to the rest of the world. Revenue from the entertainment industry in South Korea has created jobs for people’s decent lifestyles.
The Korean government hopes that this foreign acceptance of the Korean culture by the world will bear fruit by creating an environment of exchange of cultures and ideals for a common good. In a way, this will contribute to peace and stability.
Media Imperialism of South Korea
Imperialism is an assertion that a group of people has more power compared to others. In this context, media imperialism means that Korean means of passing information, especially through their entertainment industry, is more powerful than the way information is transmitted in other parts of the world. Cultural imperialism asserts that some civilizations are more powerful than other civilizations. Perhaps, this is true following the way the South Korean culture has achieved international recognition. Various parts of the world and people of those nations are increasingly willing to associate with their culture. Maybe the culture of the people of Korea is worth copying. What values do they stand for?
As the world consists of diverse population, one wonders: Why is there so much interest in the culture of Korea? (Anderson 2010) The pop culture of the Korean people, as evidenced in their movies, stands for good moral ideals. They do not just entertain to make money. They entertain to pass relevant and useful information. that is, of good moral and virtues. The world today is full of evil, and the media have particularly contributed to this. Today the media have made it possible through the media-digital, non-digital, and so on for “dirty” material to be accessible to everyone. I am talking about pornography and negative depiction of standards of life. The media ought to articulate good standards of life. Moreover, the media should be the mirror of society. It should reflect social norms. If the media portray the Korean culture to be a pop culture, then that is what the youth from different parts of the world will stick to. Are some cultures more superior to others? I think the answer is ‘NO.’ Various nations have diverse and unique cultures. What may seem to be good behavior to an African is perhaps bad behavior to an American. People communicate their emotions differently. The forms of passing information vary from one community to another, from one nation to another. Therefore, according to this view, it has been perceived that the sudden interest in the South Korean culture is the creation of the media. YouTube and their many movies and series have portrayed their culture to be superior to other cultures across the world.
South Korea’s Entertainment Industry
The South Korean entertainment industry is doing well. This is evident from the international recognition that the country’s movies and series have received recently, in what is commonly referred to as the Korean wave. Previously, the Korean economy shifted significantly from the manufacturing industry to entertainment. Entertainment was an investment area that had been under-exploited. With huge economic losses following the near collapse of the Asian economy in 1997, investors turned to the entertainment industry. Some years later, the industry produced numerous television series. The movies and series they produced touched on their culture and received much international recognition. Due to the international recognition and owing to their unique culture, the investors made so much money on the sales of movies and TV series. They made millions of dollars in profits. This shifted the focus from the manufacturing economy to the entertainment economy (Lent 1985). Moreover, the movies were low cost in terms of production. This, in turn, directly or indirectly created jobs that boosted the recovering economy of the country.
South Korea’s heavy dependence on ICT and manufacturing is set to change in the future, in light of its emerging entertainment industry. The entertainment industry in South Korea is likely to grow in the future. With the growth, the general economy will improve. As the South Korean pop culture continues to gain popularity in its famous K-pop and it is likely to surpass even that of giant America, the prospects are greater for the Korean entertainment industry. With social networks reporting K-pop to be popular on YouTube and Twitter, with youth across the world identifying with the K-pop culture, the future looks bright for the South Korean entertainment industry. The Internet alone holds a potential for the South Korean entertainment industry.
Recently, Korea has rolled out new on-line games and software. This will enable the country to compete fairly with other entertainment giants like the USA and China. These products will have a competitive advantage over other entertainment products. As it seeks to have a deeper market penetration into the entertainment industry, South Korea will have to look into new ways of making their products more appealing and competitive. It will seek to introduce innovative and creative products that will compete with those introduced by entertainment giants like the USA and China. The government intervention will also come in handy to market its products. Due to the international recognition, the South Korean government should take advantage of good international relations to market the South Korean entertainment industry. The entertainment industry was the best investment that South Korean economy players could think of. The benefits are numerous. Jobs, decent living, and improved international relations—these are the benefits of the entertainment industry (Munshi 2001). The huge following of the K-pop culture on social media like YouTube and Twitter is a pointer to greater prospects for the entertainment industry in the future. The consumer base is simply overwhelming.
Challenges for the South Korean Entertainment Industry
As a merging entertainment industry, South Korea faces stiff competition from the US, China, and India. These nations have already established their entertainment industries. The US is especially known for Hollywood movies, and India is famous for Bollywood movies. The US movie industry, for example, commands about a third of the entertainment industry (Artz 2007). The US is also known to inject billions of dollars to produce a single movie. In order to compete favorably in the entertainment industry, the South Korean entertainment industry will have to step up its efforts so as to have favorable share of the entertainment market. South Korean movie makers previously concentrated only on movies and televised dramas that portrayed their culture. They should, therefore, introduce other entertainment products like online games, comics, and horror movies.
The mass media are an important communication and entertainment tool that allows free interaction and information transmission between people. They have emerged as an economic tool that generates income and jobs. The recent South Korean wave phenomenon is a testimony to this. The entertainment industry has the potential to create jobs and improve the country’s economy.