[Letters] Korea further expands its ‘soft territory’

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[Letters] Korea further expands its ‘soft territory’

During my recent trip to Japan, I witnessed the compete dominance of Hallyu (Korean Wave) at Shin Okubo and Shokuan Dori near Tokyo’s Shinjuku. Many Korean department stores, restaurants and bars were doing business. A 65-year-old Japanese lady was carrying a personal media player to use the Korean-Japanese dictionary for her Korean language study. The lady, Ms. Yoko, said her goal is to watch Korean television dramas without Japanese subtitles. There are millions of Japanese people who share similar motives as Ms. Yoko.

A young woman from Peru sings and dances to songs by Girls’ Generation. And DVDs of Korean dramas are being sold briskly in the rural villages of Myanmar. At the Korean Cultural Center in Paris, people formed a long line to register for Korean-language lessons, but many were told that the wait will be six months. In Turkey, young women sing Big Bang songs and learn Korean.

Korea became the seventh country to have more than 50 million population and higher than $20,000 per capita income, following the United States, England, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. Korea’s expertise in urban development and resource development has been ranked highly.

We are now entering a new era. In the past, a country’s power was dependent upon how large its territory was, but now, the standard is how far its cultural and economic influence reaches.

Instead of the “hard territory” defined by geographical borders, “soft territory” has become a more useful concept.

And Korea’s “soft territory” is being expanded with the Korean Wave and free trade agreements. Right now, finding new growth engines and business models and linking them to “economic Korean wave” is the key to further expanding the country’s “soft territory.”

There is nothing we can do about the size of our land, but our cultural and economic territory will be much greater depending on how we use the Korean Wave and FTAs in the G-20 era.


David Shin, chairman of the Hallyu Cultural Industry Forum
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