Korean Music Industry Development

Thesis statement

Despite the fact that the Korean music industry seems to have grown comparatively independent from the influence of the state policies and the economic coursed of the Korean government, its success still hinges on the political and economic choices of the state authorities, seeing how, for the most part, the success of the Korean music industry’s major revenues concerns not the number of discs sold, but on the number of live performances.

Abstract

Mass media plays an important role in actualization and propagation of ideas within social and cultural contexts. Through media systems, people share thoughts and ideas that create impetus for positive action and reaction with regard to social, political, and economic undertakings. This research paper discusses development of Korean media systems. In order to achieve the aforementioned objective, this essay will contextualize diverse realities that manifest with regard to Korea. To be more exact, the essay revolves around analyzing of Korean music industry, as well as defining the extent to which the Korean politics and economy affects the Korean music industry. This essay will utilize information from credible and authoritative academic publications.

Introduction: Korean Music. Background

Perhaps, one of the least known music genre, which, nevertheless, is considered among the most unique genres, the Korean music is undergoing major changes nowadays. When it comes to discussing the Korean music industry, one must admit that in this realm, a unique marriage of culture, politics and economy can be observed. It would be naïve to expect that music and more down to the earth issues, including business and economy, are completely unrelated. Quite on the contrary, the history of the Korean music industry has proven that the link between the economic and artistic issues, particularly, music industry, is very strong, and the Korean music is a very graphic example of that. Developing in the realm of the globalization process, the modern Korean

Thesis statement

Despite the fact that the Korean music industry seems to have grown comparatively independent from the influence of the state policies and the economic coursed of the Korean government, its success still hinges on the political and economic choices of the state authorities, seeing how, for the most part, the success of the Korean music industry’s major revenues concerns not the number of discs sold, but on the number of live performances.

Korean Music Industry and Its Evolution

Analyzing the current state of the Korean music industry, as well as the grandeur of the changes that are occurring within it at present, one must keep in mind that Korea has never been open to foreign influences; evolving in an enclosed environment, it has been under the influence of the Japanese traditional music for the most part; as a result, the Korean music industry has been putting a very strong emphasis on the power of traditions up until recently.

The process of globalization and the invention of information technologies, however, have changed the landscape of the Korean music industry for good. Not only did the Korean audience learn that the process of experimenting with Korean music could actually be carried out outside the context of the Korean culture, but also realized that music could be used as a tool for addressing the issues that are currently on the agenda of the state. The given tendency can be traced easily in some of the specimens of the Korean music; for instance, PSY’s Gangnam style renders the issue of the gap between the South Korean elite and the rest of the population., therefore, pointing at the obvious flaws of the state’s economy and exposing the increasing risk of poverty in South Korea to all those concerned.

Key executives

According to the existing data, there are several key people at the helm of the Korean music industry. These are Yang Hyun-suk, Lee Soo-man, Brave Brothers, Park Jin-young, Gil Seong-joon, Rain and Gary. In fact, the Korean music industry is currently under a considerable strain due to the lack of success in promotion campaigns, which is a shame, because it clearly has a potential: “K-Pop has become the most distinct cultural genre in the Hallyu 2.0 era. While K-Pop was part of the early growth in the Korean Wave, Korea did not make impressive popularity in the global music markets until recent years” (Jin, 2012, para. 11).

Korean Music: Analysis

Korean music today

The effects that the Korean politics and economy have had on the evolution of the Korean music industry can be seen quite clearly after the analysis of the key people in the Korean music realm. A single glance at the current Korean music landscape is enough to realize that the people involved into it are aware of not only the means to work the elements of the Korean culture into the songs and music, but also how to introduce the issues that are topical for the present day Korean citizens into the songs.

Of course, it would be absurd to deny any modern Korean music any artistry quite on the contrary, one must admit that the present day Korean music industry executives are trying to make the landscape of the Korean music more diverse and open the Korean music to new opportunities through the introduction of the elements of new genres into it. For instance, the fact that Gary, one of the most influential people, in the world of the Korean music, belongs to the “clan” of rappers, is alone very unique; it shows that the Korean music is ready to expand into the globalized world, where all genders blend into an entirely new and quite fascinating mix.

Thus, one can track the obvious effects of globalization in the Korean music. The latter clearly owes these elements to the present day tendencies in the Korean policy. Indeed, according to the latest researches, Korea politicians consider the idea of SMEs development and, therefore, further expansion into the global market as one of the most profitable ideas; herein the key to the tendencies in the Korean music to sound in a more “Western” way lies.

Unless the idea of cultures blend, which the very concept of globalization presupposes, had not been introduced into Korea under the pretext of economic expansion, the Korean music would have never witnessed the introduction of such a colorful and, quite honestly, bizarre combination of tools for music diversification. As it has been stressed above, the emergence of rap subculture in the Korean music field is a very graphic example of the globalization policies and their results.

It would be wrong to claim that the Korean music industry has been ripped off its originality completely; on the opposite, the current industry features a range of indigenous elements of the Korean culture. True, combined with the elements of the Western music, these remnants of the traditional Korean music look rather weird, yet it is obvious that the Korean entertainment and music industry is undergoing rapid changes at present, with its key people facing a major dilemma (Thussu, 2013). On the one hand, the current policies presuppose that the Western culture should have a major influence on the Korean music. On the other hand, the evolution of the Korean SMEs and the tendency for the state’s economic and political independency signifies that Korea is ready for accepting the realities of the Western world, including its culture and particularly music.

Relevance of political economy on Korean music

In recent past, Korean popular culture has witnessed tremendous development and entrenchment with regard to acceptance in regional and international spheres. Regional countries such as China and Japan are increasingly receptive of Korean music, art, and drama (Shim, 2002). In Japan, Korean popular culture gained traction after production and release of Winter Love Song, an epic drama that accentuates Korean values and aspirations. The earliest entrant into the Korean pop culture bandwagon was Star in My Heart, a drama that attracted attention in China and other Asian countries (Shim, 2002). This level of success intensified efforts that sought to popularize Korean culture across Asia. It also intensified popularity of actors and individuals who participated in formulation of Korean dramas (Shim, 2002). It is important to note that Korean pop culture is receiving interest from countries in Eastern Europe and Africa. Egypt is particularly keen on Korean popular music. This is evident due to popularity of Korean drama and music in the country (Shim, 2002).

Korean music has heightened foreign interest with regard to Korea and its socio-cultural orientation. Currently, Korea receives high number of tourists who visit with a view to initiate cultural and social synergy (Shim, 2002). For instance, Winter Love Song had immense influence on foreigners who sought to demystify Korean cultural and social aspirations. Korean music has also inspired people to learn local languages (Shim, 2002). Language institutions continue to admit foreign students who seek to learn Korean language. Such students endeavor to learn and internalize Korean cultural values and practices. Diverse collaborative efforts bolster relations between Korea and other regional and international state entities (Shim, 2002). Popularity of Korean music is indicative of its superior and enigmatic orientation.

According to observers, Korean music has potential to initiate reconciliation and harmonious coexistence between North and South (Shim, 2002). Although most popular dramas bear diverse messages and themes, it is important to note that they develop identity that could ultimately inspire unification and harmonious coexistence (Shim, 2002). Most products of Korean popular culture bear political and social undertones that reflect relations among individuals in the Korean fraternity. Popular mass media plays an integral role in dissemination and actualization of pop culture in contemporary society (Shim, 2002).

The Korean case is indicative of how mass media contributes to propagation of cultural identities. However, certain dramas exhibit exaggerations that affect perceptions among entities within Korea. They accentuate diversity and inherent disparities that bedevil Korea (Shim, 2002). The partitioning of Korea created numerous challenges that continue to affect relations between the two entities. For instance, there is difference in language and expression. This makes it difficult for citizens to interact and engage in favorable commercial undertakings. However, spread of pop culture continues to bridge the disparity because citizens familiarize with aspects such as language and mannerisms (Shim, 2002).

Korean music industry also creates products that alter detrimental perceptions with regard to pertinent areas such as gender roles and relations. Due to cultural realities and perceptions, most Asian women are conservative and submissive. However, Korean popular culture has created impetus for transformation and adjustment (Wang, 2011). It empowers women with regard to gender roles and expectations. Modern women are willing to engage in commercial activities that were traditionally reserved for men. This materializes through exposure to popular culture and mass media. Development of Asia media systems has led to transformation and adjustment within the Asian society. Korean music is traditionally seen as an avenue for change and transformation (Wang, 2011).

Through music, Korean culture has infiltrated diverse international platforms. Music has enabled translocation of thoughts and ideas across society. This has led to social and cultural integration with regard to various societal engagements. Most audiences love Korean pop because it delivers diverse messages in a fair and entertaining manner (Woodier, 2009).

Another major political issue, which affects the Korean music industry, concerns the fact that the nation is currently split into South and North Korea, each state having its unique cultural heritage, yet both having a number of points of contact. Because of the difference in the political approaches undertaken by the authorities in South and North Korea, Korean music industry is characterized by incredible diversity. With the pressure of the Western culture in the South and the enhancement of the national traditions and cultural principles in the North, the Korean music industry is supposed to navigate between the two opposing concepts and remain afloat in this conflict ridden environment.

The effects of the current political principles’ inconsistency can be traced even in the music industry of one of the states, not to mention the conflicting issues that emerge when the cultures of South and North Korea collide. For example, according to the recent data, modern South Korean music industry can be characterized as politically driven, with a harsh criticism of the contemporary society. It is remarkable that the Korean music industry not only tends to explore new opportunities provided by the Western music genres, but also aims at satisfying an average customer by addressing hot button political and economic issues, among which the problem of inequality takes the first place.

It is also quite peculiar that the Korean music industry has been open for a range of social issues that would have been considered controversial prior to the process of the Korean music industry expansion into the Western culture. It also creates products that alter detrimental perceptions with regard to pertinent areas such as gender roles and relations. Due to cultural realities and perceptions, most Asian women are conservative and submissive. However, Korean popular culture has created need for transformation and adjustment (Hallin, 2011).

Thus, it can be assumed that the Korean music industry is also very susceptible towards the social changes that the globalization triggers within the Korean society. Finally, the fact that the Korean music industry also has a tangible effect on the state economy should also be brought up. According to the recent data, modern Korean music “has been a driver of Hallyu 2.0 as Korea exported $80.9 million worth of music in 2010, a 159% increase from 2009” (Jin, 2012, para. 11).

More to the point, the revenues that the Korean music industry gains, and, consequently, the effect that it has on Korean economy, it beyond amazing: “Furthermore, in 2011, the music industry exported $177 million, a 112% increase from the previous year. Online gaming and K-Pop have been the two most significant cultural sectors in the Korean creative industries” (Jin, 2012, para. 11).

Analysis of Korean music

In most cultural orientations, music plays an important role in enhancing change and transformation. Korean music supports interaction and discourse in relation to pertinent ranks within society (Wang, 2011). It is important to note that Korean pop goes beyond entertainment. In fact, it fuses entertainment and information in diverse contexts (Wang, 2011). Korean pop represents various cultural and social elements that characterize indigenous Asian culture. This genre integrates foreign concepts in order to achieve international standards. It borrows ideas from European genres that have gained acceptance across the world (Wang, 2011).

This facilitates overall realization of success in competitive segments of international markets. Due to current developments in technology, Korean pop has managed to penetrate international markets. Consequently, this genre has realized monumental acceptance and recognition all over the world (Wang, 2011).

There is no need to stress the fact that the Westernization of Korea, as well as the fact that the blend of the traditional Korean and the Western music genres has created the environment for more efficient entrepreneurship. There is no need to stress that with the recent breakthrough of the Gangnam Style by PSI, it was revealed that the Korean market could be used as a digital trailblazer. Thus, the music evolution matched the intentions of the South Korean entrepreneurs to put a stronger emphasis on the information technology and make an efficient use of the latest IT developments in order to enhance their key business operations, particularly, logistics, advertising, promotion and communication with the customer. More to the point, the music industry of both North and especially South Korea appeared to be very susceptible to the influence of the West (Seabrook, 2012, October 8).

However, assuming that the Korean music industry evolution is completely in chime with the Western globalization trends will be quite a stretch. Despite the fact that Korea, especially South Korea, tens to create better environment for its SMEs and, thus, works for the integration of the state into the global market, one must admit that the development of the Korean music industry has been quite uneven over the past few decades. On the one hand, there has been a gigantic breakthrough with the aforementioned PSY. On the other hand, now that several years have passed, hardly anyone remembers the musician or anything about the Korean music, for that matter; more to the point, neither of the two Koreas seems to be willing to make a statement about its music potential.

Hence the necessity for the Korean music industry to receive support from the government emerges (Oh, 2013). It is obvious that Korean music industry can be easily used as a powerful tool for not only defining the issues that need urgent improvement, but also address these issues efficiently. To be more exact, the Korean music industry can be utilized as the tool for spreading awareness regarding a range of social and political issues, as well as enhancing the process of the Korean integration into the global market. Indeed, seeing how music affects people on the subconscious level, music industry can be literally viewed as a tool for bridging nation, which Korea needs badly at present.

The effects that the promotion of Korean music industry may have on the economy can also be used for more basic needs, such as the development of particular industries, such as tourism. Despite the fact that Korea has a range of resources that may serve a attractions for tourists and the source for the state’s income, the tourism industry has not been developed well enough in either South or North Korea. Thus, it will be reasonable that the government should support the changes within the Korean music industry in order to increase the rates of tourism related income.

Speaking of the role of government in the process of enhancing the importance of Korean music industry, one must admit that state bodies have little to no effect on the popularity of particular bands, performers or singers among the general audience. However, by using government funds, it will be possible to invest into the Korean music industry. The investments may be directed at

Conclusion: Room for Development

Despite the fact that the link between music industry and political and economic affairs of the state is quite hard to locate, there is no doubt that the Korean music industry is affected by the economic and political transformations, which the state is undergoing currently; more to the point, the tendency of the Korean music industry to hinge on the state’s economic performance and foreign policy seems to have been persistent over the past few decades. Because of the influence that the Korean music industry may gain once it will turn more Western oriented, the government should encourage the evolution of the Korean music culture and support the music industry in the state.

Reference List

Hallin, D. (2011). Comparing media systems beyond the western world. London: Cambridge University Press. Web.

Jin, D. Y. (2012). Hallyu 2.0: The new Korean wave in the creative industry. International Institute Journal, 2(1), n. p. Web.

Oh, I. (2013). The globalization of K-pop: Korea’s place in the global music industry. Korea Observer, 44(3), 389–409. Web.

Seabrook, J. (2012). Factory girls. The New Yorker. Web.

Shim, D. (2002). South Korean media industry in the 1990s and the economic crisis. Prometheus, 20(1), 338-350. Web.

Thussu, D. (2013). International communication: Continuity and change. London: Oxford University Press. Web.

Wang, H. (2011). The politics of imagining Asia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Web.

Woodier, J. (2009). The media and political change in Asia: Karaoke culture and evolution of personality politics. London: Edward Elgar Publishing. Web.