[FOUNTAIN]Hatred of hanryu trivialLet’s say a movie commemorating the March 1 Independence Movement is being made in Korea. What will people say if Chinese star actress Zhang Ziyi is cast to play the role of independence fighter Yu Gwan-sun? A similar incident actually happened in the spring of 2003 in China. A Chinese movie production attempted to cast a Korean actor to play an Eighth Route Army soldier.
The Eighth Route Army refers to the forces of the Chinese Communist Party. When the Communist Party of China agreed to the second cooperation with the Kuomintang, they renamed the Red Army the “People’s Revolutionary Eighth Route Army” and fought against Japan. Naturally, the Eighth Route Army is a nationalistic subject for the Chinese. When a Korean actor was mentioned for the role of an Eighth Route Army solider, the Chinese public grumbled. At the time, Chinese filmmaker Chen Daoming furiously said, “Have all Chinese actors died?”
Perhaps as a counterattack to the Korean pop culture wave, or hanryu, an anti-Korean culture wave is spreading in China and Japan lately. “China has been invaded many times but was never made a slave culturally. It now becomes a cultural slave of Korea,” Chinese actor Chang Kuoli said. “Let’s find and attack the bad elements of Korean television series,” advocated Tang Guoqiang, an actor famous for playing the role of Mao Zedong. The reactions are unusual for the normally laid-back Chinese. In other words, they are desperate. The trend against the Korean wave in China is a resistance to hanryu.
In contrast, some Japanese increasingly abhor the Korean wave. The sentiment originated from a comic book titled, “Hating Korean Wave.” The book is about a Japanese high school student who finds it hard to properly understand the history of Korea and Japan and joins a group named the “Far East Asia Investigation Society.” With the instructions of senior students, he learns the “real side of pathetic Korea.” The book is full of distortions and falsifications about Korea and Koreans. For example, it claims Koreans suffer from a mental condition of rage, and that beautiful Korean women must have spent a lot of money on plastic surgery.
How should we respond to the anti-Korean culture wave in China and Japan? Culture is like water. It flows from high to low. Originally, the Korean pop culture was created for the domestic audience and was not meant to be exported. As the quality improved, people began to enjoy it regardless of nationality. As long as Korea continues to produce high-quality cultural content, resistance to and hatred of the Korean wave are nothing to worry about.
by You Sang-chul
The writer is the Asia news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.