Journey to The Land of S(e)oul (Part II) : Scholar Who Walks The Night

'City of Seoul' in shawl
I was a frequent user of the underground subway when I travelled to places in Korea. Well, what do I expect, being chauffeured around like a chaebol?  Of course not!  I preferred the bus as it provided me with the ability to explore the streets of Korea but waiting in the cold autumn breeze was a great pain too. So most of the time, I would be underground and warm.

And what made it better was that the underground station was full of shop lots, small exhibitions and billboards. On the billboards were fans' best wishes to their superstar oppas, unnies, hyungs and noonas.

It is normal to use billboards for those purposes in Korea. Not only billboards, I saw some buses that actually had the exterior decorated by hallyu stars' faces and fans' best wishes to them.  And these are all depending on how rich the fan clubs are.

Walking at night around the streets of Hongdae was also another indication of how big the Korean Pop culture is getting. Every step I took led me to people busking, dancing and even doing magic shows. I knew that some entertainment company did street casting. But, I am not sure if those people that did street performing was doing it as a hobby or somehow hoping to be casted.

Hongdae Street, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea by @astrobound

I will just do a walk down memory lane a little bit here.  I am someone who people could identify as the early k-poppers.  I have been a fan of many of the industry's products since 2008.  How time flies!  Eleven years and I am still into it.  I had been one of those fierce, immature fans and have now become a mature fan who appreciate the arts and culture of K-Pop.

Back when I was in university, I had to write about pop culture in my technical writing class.  I told my lecturer I was going to write about K-Pop. My lecturer only frowned. Well, K-Pop was only just set foot in the US at that time.  My lecturer, who was obviously not Gen Y did not follow Oppa Gangnam Style!  Nevertheless, I did my study on how the K-Pop culture bring forth the Korea traditional culture to the eye of the world.  And my lecturer gave me a big smile and a satisfied nod after he read my paper.

K-Pop culture, I must say, is about perfection.  If anybody can relate, we always see these idols seem to be good at singing, acting and modelling and not to mention they are pretty and slim as well as handsome and tall.  They are expected to be well-behaved in public too, all adding to the image of perfection.  This leads them to be well-liked and drives people crazy about them.  And when people are crazy about someone, they tend to follow his or her daily life.

So imagine a group of well-liked, popular people. People follow them. And when they are invited in variety shows which showcase many Korean cultural elements such as food, traditional clothes, tourist attractions, etc., people begin to see Korea on the world map. I know it has become a must for some people to visit Korea every year!  This must have boosted their economy.

It is indeed a very clever way of promoting Korean culture through the pop culture.  I am not sure if this was done deliberately or it had just be something that went well.  Either way, it worked!

And most importantly, it has brought me to the land of Korea to learn and explore the fascinating history and culture.

...more in...(Part III)

Dongdaemon Plaza behind me

I'm wearing 'Pop Culture' scarf


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