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Measuring the Impact of Hallyu on Korea's Economy: Setting Off on the Wrong Foot
Author: Jimmyn Parc
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, South
Published October 20, 2021
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This paper argues that the impact of Hallyu (the Korean Wave) on the Korean economy has only been effective in boosting related sectors, such as cosmetics, fashion, and tourism. Interestingly, the Korean government has tried to take credit for the emergence of the Korean Wave and has exaggerated its economic impact while publicizing its “contribution.” The economic benefits of such nation branding based on Korean cultural contents have been largely offset by the government’s actions that have made cultural contents a target during diplomatic conflicts. The analysis in this paper leads to the following conclusions. First, much of government support is mistargeted and ineffective due to lack of transparency. Second, the government has intervened more in cultural industries as the subsidies it provided increased its stake in this sector. Third, the media and academics report and study the government’s supposed contribution to increase their revenues and advance their careers. These factors have created vested interests that benefit from government support for cultural industries, creating a vicious circle that further boosts such support. This paper argues that businesses and artists should be credited with the emergence of the Korean Wave. The government should instead focus on fostering a business-friendly environment that enables companies to further advance Korea’s cultural industries to a truly global level.

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