Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Blueprint for K-pop's future presented at the 2013 GCEF

Behind the rising popularity of Korean pop singers on the global stage lies the power of media outlets and user-driven websites such as YouTube. 

“With the advent of YouTube, the boundaries between countries are collapsing. YouTube serves as a tool linking a person to a person, a country to a country, in real time. Now any high-quality and creative content can be spread all over the world in a split second.”

That’s what Vice President Takashi Kimoto of Universal Music Japan said during the second session of the 2013 Global Culture Exchange Forum (GCEF) held at the international conference hall on the 20th floor of Korea Press Center on January 31. 

Co-hosted by the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange and the Catholic University of Korea, the forum was attended by an international panel of cultural experts from Britain, France, the Philippines, and Japan, who discussed future steps on developing K-pop into a global movement, under the theme “Making creative use of Hallyu to develop it into a global popular culture.” 

“Korea must make creative use of outside cultures to develop K-pop into a global brand,” suggested Nik Powell, director of the National Film and Television School during his keynote speech. “There are two key factors for success on the global stage; development and promotion of powerful and novel content and artist development.” 

A case in point is the Beatles, a British band whose popularity was so enormous in America in the 1960s that the term British Invasion was coined. The band took America by storm with its new style music reinvented using African-American music. American film director Francis Ford Coppola incorporated characteristic features ofFrench New Wave films into his movies, which turned out to become megahits all around the world. These examples back up the importance of utilizing outside cultures as he emphasized. 

“It is YouTube that has made it possible for K-pop singer PSY to become a global sensation,” emphasized John Hirai, head of music at YouTube’s Japan and Korea branch, during the in-depth discussion. “What led the world to be fascinated by K-pop is the power of media, such as YouTube, which can disseminate a variety of content in real time,” He said. 

As for the sold-out concerts of K-pop groups such as idol groups affiliated with SM Entertainment and Super Junior in France, Economics Professor Patrick Messerlin from the Paris Institute of Political Studies explained, “Europeans are crazy about the unique ‘energy’ K-pop has got.” 

He cautioned against K-pop becoming too westernized. “Instead, it needs to keep the indigenous characteristics of Korean popular culture intact,” He said. 
During the first session, domestic cultural experts offered deep insights into how to make K-pop sustainable as it stands in 2013 and years to come. Among ideas suggested include building up the brand power of K-pop, diversifying K-pop, and using SNS as a tool to make K-pop more attractive. 

The forum offered a meaningful opportunity to hear insights into Hallyu from an international panel of cultural experts and think deeply about K-pop sweeping the world. The participants also had time to consider how to make K-pop sustainable and further develop it. 

“K-pop has gone beyond the language and race boundaries and made the world more interconnected, resulting in opening up the minds of people from other countries to the Korean culture,” said Chae Jeeyoung, director of the Cultural Industry Policy Research Division at the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute (KCTI). 

“To make the Korean wave long-lasting, instead of ‘just a one-off thing,’ we should figure out what kinds of idols can win the hearts of overseas fans, and then create such idols,” she added. “But first and foremost, it is important that the government should step forward to establish a concrete infrastructure to pave the way for sustainable K-pop.” (


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