Japanese pop culture invades South Korea

January 10, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea Just three months after South Korea lifted its ban on Japanese music and movies, Japanese pop culture which has swept across much of East Asia has taken South Korea by storm.

Younger South Koreans are packing into music and video shops to check out the latest hits from Japan.

Bands like Speed and singing sensation Utada Hikaru are hugely popular. Their albums often outsell those by their South Korean counterparts.

Local filmmakers already hit hard by Hollywood blockbusters are facing new competition as South Korean moviegoers flock to see the latest Japanese box office hits.


Japanese culture, on the whole, is so much more free and diverse than that of our own. I think, in that aspect, it will have a positive effect on our own culture, says an 18yearold as she flips through piles of Japanese cartoons at a local bookstore.

South Korean teenagers are crowding game rooms to shake and shimmy to Dance Dance Revolution or DDR, a game imported from Japan. The rules of DDR are simple The player must step on the corresponding squares on the foot panel to match those shown on the monitor.

For older South Koreans, this fondness for allthings Japanese is a little unsettling. They remember Japans occupation of their country when the Korean language and many other things Korean were banned.

The older generation tends to have ill feelings towards the Japanese because our culture was stifled by Japan during the 36year colonial rule, says KoreaJapan Cultural Exchange Center representative Chung ByungSeok.

Still, the unease of their parents and grandparents has done little to stop younger South Koreans from embracing the Japanese culture.

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