The Role of Popular Culture in East Asian Regional Relations
Regional broadcasting was restricted until the 1980's in countries like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, but since then with the coming of globalization, it is now possible for content of all sorts to be legitimately transferred across national borders, which without a doubt influences the relations between the sides.
Kim Dae-jung, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who rose from political imprisonment to presidency, began the process of liberalizing South Korean media. From 1998 to 2004 Kim implemented four progressive stages that opened up the flow of regional media in and out of the country. This contributed to regional harmony, in particular with Japan. The emergence of the “Korean Wave” impacted East Asia in a significant way. Television drama “Winter Sonata” generated great fandom in Japan, inspiring visits to the country. Fans create new societies in multinational contexts, which allows for ideas to flow back and forth without geographical limits. This creates a group where thoughts and ideas meet in cohesion, highlighting human commonalities between members, which improves relations.
The power of social networks and media is changing the perceptions countries have of each other, stimulating and exchanging cultural flows. This allows for cultural messages to be transferred through various media products. Especially popular in East Asia are fantasy characters like Hello Kitty, which has international appeal and inspires warmth. Another aspect that contributes to regional harmony is the inevitable tourist industry that comes with the spread of popular culture.
Since the young create the world of tomorrow, there are encouraging signs it will be a place of harmony, seeing how surveys suggest a growing amount of mutual respect and the appreciation of the value that cultural transfers bring. Popular culture can heal East Asia and instill understanding. Though some political issues may remain, popular cultural and multinational trade is creating a land where the common interest in enjoyment transcends politics.
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