How South Korea, Japan, and Other Countries Came to Dominate the Pop Culture Landscape


Hollywood is the center of the entertainment universe. The majority of the world’s most popular TV shows, movies, and music are created in a single California city, but the content produced is loved around the world.

Americans are spoiled when it comes to media – the majority of media content out there is primarily aimed at English/American audiences. Media created in foreign countries often does not arrive on the global pop culture scene on the same scale as Western productions.

However, in recent years, some interesting foreign media have gained viral and international recognition, even surpassing the blockbuster films that are released worldwide every year.

The most notable example of this is the Netflix original series squid game. For strangers, squid game is a South Korean thriller series released as a Netflix exclusive show in September 2021. The show was an instant hit, with Netflix stats indicating within the first 28 days of its release that Netflix users collectively had watched the show for 1.65 billion hours, making it the most-watched show on the channel. The show was all over the internet, sparking memes and discussions about its dark themes.

It is difficult to remember such a cultural phenomenon. With media becoming increasingly diverse and plentiful, and spread across so many different platforms, it’s easy to miss some of the most popular shows. I’m too young to remember the day when there wasn’t a nearly endless expanse of movies and TV at your fingertips, but if office satires are anything to go by, there was once a day when network tv ruled and people were talking on the popular tv shows near the water fountain.

But I digress, the point is, it’s impressive that any TV show achieves this level of cultural relevance now, and it’s all the more interesting that one of the most notable shows to achieve this reign is foreign. However, squid game isn’t the only popular foreign show on Netflix; in fact, number three on the same list was the Spanish crime drama Money theft”. A number of notable shows listed in Netflix stats are foreign, Lupine (French), Who Killed Sarah (Mexican), and flow queen (Colombian).

It’s not like foreign TV shows have suddenly sprung up in the United States. Japanese anime has a long history of ratings in the United States. However, anime is also growing by leaps and bounds. Netflix has started buying cartoons that will be released as Netflix Originals with the animated adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s 6th part ocean of stone, Komi can’t communicate and countless other anime releasing simultaneously in Japan and the United States.

Japanese media often have staggered releases, with Western localizations of anime, manga, and games sometimes coming years after their Japanese debut. Netflix’s 2020 Year in Review video stated that there was a 100% growth in anime viewership on the platform.

There is a growing Western market for foreign media, and Asian media in particular are doing exceptionally well. Manga (Japanese graphic novels) not only topped sales, but dominated the comics and graphic novels market in 2021, holding more than three-quarters of the market share – traditional superhero graphic novels and comics. heroes taking less than 6.5%.

Although the Avengers may have defeated Thanos, it looks like their next fight is to maintain their relevance against Demon Slayer Tanjiro, and Jujutsu Kaisen Yuji.

South Korea is also making progress in the American media landscape. Apart from Korean dramas that have made their way onto Netflix, Korean pop music has also gained popularity among American audiences.

BTS is the Korean 7-man group with the most international name recognition. The closest Western equivalent to BTS and K-Pop groups would be the boy bands of the 1990s. Like the Backstreet Boys and N-Sync, groups like BTS have high production value shows, with lots of complicated choreography, and are built around the personalities of the performers who are all primarily singers and dancers.

Back in 2018, BTS became the first Korean group to have an album top the Billboard 200, and a song from the same year, “Fake Love”, debuted at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. For something more recent, a four-concert set in Las Vegas in April sold out before tickets opened for purchase by the general public.

Tickets for the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium were purchased by members of the BTS Global Official Fanclub ARMY. Members of this group pay an annual fee for early access to content, purchase exclusive merchandise, and can apply to attend exclusive BTS events, to name a few of the benefits listed on their website.

While K-Pop and anime are all the rage, it’s important to include the critical success of foreign films in recent times. In 2020, the Korean film Parasite became the first foreign language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. This year, the Japanese film drive my car was nominated for the prestigious award.

The growth in popularity of foreign media poses many interesting questions about the future shape of media in the United States and around the world. While platforms like Netflix seem content to buy and serve as a distributor of foreign content, how will American media producers, especially in areas where they lag foreigners, try to woo domestic audiences? ? How will issues of media representation be viewed with art created in different nations and different local contexts? How will Western fandoms of foreign works play into accusations of cultural appropriation, insensitivity, and other controversial topics regarding race and culture exceptionally relevant in Western countries?

Perhaps the dispersal of culture in this way will contribute to the erosion of national boundaries in our increasingly connected world, helping, in the early days of the Internet, to form a truly global community. It remains to be seen exactly how the media landscape of tomorrow will unfold before us. In the meantime, the growing access and popularity of new storytelling – both foreign and domestic – is an exciting prospect for media consumers.

Authors biography :

Garrett Hartman is a contributing writer at Smart Magazine. He is a graduate of California State University, Chico, double majoring in Media Arts Design Technology and Journalism/Public Relations. A pop culture lover, Garret enjoys a wide range of films, television, video games, and literature. However, as a drummer in a rock band and a fan of alternative rock, music holds a special place in his heart.

For Intello magazine

Image sources:

–Pixabay (Creative Commons)

– (Korea Culture and Information Service, Wikimedia, Creative Commons)


About Author

Comments are closed.