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Representations of Korea by the 'Korean Wave'

I live in the USA and many people around the world have seen TV programs and movies from here that portray very different situations than what is the reality.  Depictions of Americans on the screen are hardly similar to anyone I know.  Accepting that this is the natural result of exaggeration and misrepresentation for entertainment purposes, I wonder how people feel about the differences between the fictional depictions and realities of life in South Korea.


Specifically, what stands out to you as the most exaggerated aspect of Korean Wave music, movies, or TV programs?

Jul 11, 2014 4:06 PM
Comments · 7

I'm a Korean-American, born here, so I can't speak for native Koreans, but my parents were born there and I've lived in South Korea during my childhood. Yes, of course the depiction of Korea and Koreans in Korean media are not realistic nor accurate. I find that Korean dramas are very unrealistic in every aspect...I find them unwatchable actually since the acting is so exaggerated and theatrical to me. They aren't completely divorced from reality but very, very dramatized.


I find that the recent surge of popularity K-pop is experiencing also contributes largely to some ignorance, fetishization, and racism against Koreans and Korea.

July 13, 2014

That sounds about right, Thaddeus. I've spoken with many native Koreans who don't agree with how the culture of Korea is being perceived while being exported to foreign countries. The natives I've spoken to also agree that many foreigners enjoy the aspects of these cultural exports (K-pop, dramas, etc.) more so than the native Koreans living within Korea. Media does play a large role, both within Korea and how the media operates regarding how Korea is perceived within all foreign countries.

July 15, 2014

If foreigners were making assumptions based upon media intended only for South Korea, I would totally agree.  However, given that large entertainment conglomerates in South Korea are supporting the Korean Wave and exporting this media, I think that fans are not solely responsible for these misrepresentations.  There are obviously some in South Korea who do see their country's entertainment as exemplary.

July 15, 2014

Again, I am American, born and raised, so I want to emphasize that I cannot speak for native Koreans. Though my familiy originates from Korea, I am not from there, so I really can't answer your question fully.


The problem doesn't lie with Korean media, it's the people who fetishize Korea and Koreans who are the source of the problem. The responsibilty and onus lies with non-Koreans to not be racist and fetishize, not on Koreans, whether they are represented accurately or inaccurately by Korean media. Korean people are not a monolith.

July 13, 2014

For people who seem to have sustained their interest or fetish, it seems they are much more motivated to try to learn the Korean language.  For instance, there are a lot of discussions here on italki from people obviously drawn to the language by what they have seen in Korean entertainment.  Are there any major misrepresentations they should be aware of?

July 13, 2014
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