Monday 14 August 2023

Book Review: The Korean Wave: Evolution, Fandom & Transnationality by Yoon Tae-jin (Ed.) (Non-Fiction)

Title: The Korean Wave: Evolution, Fandom & Transnationality
Author: Yoon Tae-jin
Publisher: Lexington Books
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 300
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Scribd

Since the Korean Wave phenomenon started in 1997, Hallyu has undergone many changes. Geographically, while Asia has been the largest cultural market for the Korean cultural industries, other parts of society, including North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America have gradually admitted Korean popular culture. The components of the Korean Wave have also greatly expanded. Hallyu originally implied the exports of a few cultural products, such as television dramas, popular music, and films; however, Korea has recently developed and exported K-pop, digital games and smartphone technologies as well as relevant youth culture. Meanwhile, industrial and technological contexts of the Korean Wave have changed significantly during the last 20 years. The role of social media in the Korean Wave’s transnationalization in recent years is especially intriguing because fans around the world can easily access social media to enjoy K-pop, digital games, and films. The changes in the nature and appearance of the Korean Wave, conceptual and theoretical shifts in the studies of the Korean Wave, and the influences of the development of media technologies on the Korean Wave are all very significant. This book aims to provide a better understanding of Hallyu's theoretical and institutional history on one hand, and new features of the Korean Wave on the other hand.


As a major consumer of Korean Wave materials (notably K-drama), I was interested to read The Korean Wave: Evolution, Fandom & Transnationality, which purported to consider the phenomenon in various ways. Unfortunately, the book didn't quite live up to my expectations. All the papers within it were pretty dry and dull, and many seemed outdated already, even though only five years have passed since its publication, in light of continuing trends and the further expansion of Korean cultural media, and, in fact, Korean culture in general, including the number of people now learning the language (myself included) due to their interest in Korea and its culture, both popular and traditional. I also thought the book focused a bit too much on the East-East disbursement of materials, with only a brief look at the East-West movement. I am therefore giving this book three stars. Aside from scholarly dryness, its issue really is being already outdated.

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