Hallyu is the increase in the global popularity of South Korean culture. K-pop culture has become a major contributor to South Korea’s economy. Even during the pandemic, Hallyu’s promotional budget in 2021 increased by 42.7% to HK$4.1 billion.
The reason for this success is the heavy government investment. As early as 1993, the Ministry of Culture and Sports was created. A Popular Culture Industry Division was established later, which was reorganized into Hallyu Support and Cooperation Division in 2020. Besides K-pop, Korea also exports K-drama, K-beauty , virtual reality content and esports.
Compared to Korea, Hong Kong often imports cultures from other countries. But if you look at history, you will find that Hong Kong has done quite well in the past when it comes to cultural exports. During the 1980s Cantopop took Asia by storm and singers like Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung and Danny Chan were popular in this golden age. The “Four Heavenly Kings” – Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai – debuted during this period.
The films were also legendary. For example, Stephen Chow films are still suitable for every season, even in the 2020s. However, our government has failed to seize the opportunity to develop our cultural exports. Cantopop began to decline in the 2000s.
Anita Mui (left) and Leslie Cheung in a picture from Rouge (1988), directed by Stanley Kwan. Photo: Golden Harvest
The Korean government has seized the best moment to develop its pop culture. K-pop created a new era in the 2000s and 2010s.
Girls’ Generation, the girl group, deserves a special mention. Their addictive melodies and lyrics have made all of Korea and beyond fall in love with their music. They were the first K-pop group to perform on American late-night television shows. They had a big influence on the success of K-pop. Consider me an example – I’m a fan.
It’s not just Girls’ Generation that had such a big influence, but other K-pop groups like Wonder Girls, famous for their song Nobody. As for boy bands, there are TVXQ, Super Junior, Big Bang, Shinee and 2PM. They have built a solid cornerstone for hallyu.
Korean reality TV shows have also become very well known. We are married, Infinite Challenge and Family outing were popular throughout Asia. Korean dramas, such as Secret garden and Boys above the flowerswere must-watch shows for K-pop fans.
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No one could imagine that Cantopop would miraculously start growing again in the 2020s. Hong Kong boy bands Mirror and Error are becoming increasingly popular. Mirror members are McDonald’s ambassadors. Keung To, one of the group’s most beloved members, held month-long birthday celebrations for him by his fans.
The factors for this new popularity could be political issues and the stressful atmosphere in Hong Kong. Their songs and performances not only gave Hong Kongers immense hope, but also offered them a moment of relief in such a nerve-wracking city. They were a light in the dark.
An epic era of Cantopop has been created anew. It would be a great moment for the authorities to export the culture of Hong Kong. Promoting Cantopop could attract more tourists to Hong Kong to experience our unique culture and create revenue for the city at the same time. Cantopop can be on par with K-pop.
I think the government should take the risk, just like Korea did, to develop this trend. It’s time to let Cantopop shine again!
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Humble writers can be the biggest influencers
Valérie Jazmín Caballero García, Biffi La Salle School
Throughout history, we can learn about the lives of different people who have made efforts to bring about change. They have been called in different ways, from activists to speakers to politicians. Each of them created a change in history with the help of their writings and arguments, but if we study this a little closer, we can see that the words that survive the longest are those that are written. These writings don’t last just one generation but, over time, they speak to many different readers depending on when they discover the writing.
Anyone can access these books written by activists who we commonly call writers, who at some point in their lives decided to share their thoughts with the world using letters.
Writers have been the greatest influencers in history after politicians, considered the greatest orators and demagogues. These authors may have been tormented by injustice or hatred, or had other feelings that they reflected in their writings.
Victor Hugo is an example. He was inspired by the social conflicts of the 19th century in France and thus wrote the history of Wretched. He based his writing on satire to educate people about what was happening in his time.
Victor Hugo was a French poet, playwright, novelist and essayist who lived from 1802 to 1885. Photo: Shutterstock
These activists show us, through their testimonies and their stories, these events and issues that have affected their societies, generating a great impact on the reader.
However, some authors never see the changes their writing can create, nor do they enjoy public credit, as happened to Emily Bronte. She was one of the writers of her time who published her thoughts (in the book The Wuthering Heights) under a male pseudonym. This novel is about hatred and revenge, as well as its repercussions on his own life and that of those around him.
The impact of our words must be measured. The emotions expressed there, as well as the words chosen, can be the difference between causing a crisis and moving forward collectively. Demagoguery is always a risk in politicians, and Hitler is an example of this, as he transmitted hatred towards certain people through his words and turned half the world in his favor.
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Currently, activists discuss women’s rights, the LGBT community, the environment and politics. Before, some writers like Martin Luther dared to challenge the Catholic Church. Luther, being an important figure in the church, discussed the problems he saw in the church through his 95 thesesgenerating profound changes within this powerful organization.
In the end, we see how it is not only public speaking that is capable of collective transformation, but also writing; also, all that is needed is a spark for change. This spark can be an idea, a proposal or sharing your point of view.
As Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a 19th century English writer, once said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.
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