Hallyu: The Importance of Government Support

Two years ago, the black comedy/thriller film Parasite took the academy awards by storm, taking out the awards for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film, and became the first non-English speaking film to receive the award for Best Picture. What’s interesting about this film receiving so much acclaim and commendation internationally isn’t just the film itself, but the fact that it comes from a country that just over 25 years prior barely had its own films shown in cinema. Today we’re going to look at South Korea’s massive cultural boom, Hallyu, and the integral role the government played in supporting the Korean creative industry.

Movie poster for ‘Parasite’ (2019)

Coming from years of dictatorship, the Korean film industry was at a low in the early 1990’s when the country regained democracy. In 1993, a mere 16% of box office films shown in Korea were native productions. Yet a mere 20 years later this figure had jumped to 50%, with 9 out of the 10 top films at the Korean box office being Korean. So how did this wave of support for culture industries cultivate? 

Soft power is a term used to denote a persuasive approach to international relations, as opposed to using military or economic force. It is often administered through cultural means, through things such as film, TV, and music. Coming out of a prolonged authoritative and censored period for Korean arts, the government saw a need to support their industry in order for it to make a return, and ideally prove useful as a soft power tool for fostering healthier international relations. They did this through tax benefits, workforce training, and increased investment in their cultural industries. There was also the introduction of legislation that called for Korean films to be screened in cinemas for 146 days a year, which led to an exorbitant increase in the films being made. Slowly the products of Korean culture began saturating the market, and into the markets of its Chinese and Japanese neighbours. Hallyu was beginning to sweep the world.

In the book “New Korean Wave : Transnational Cultural Power in the Age of Social Media”, Dal Yong Jin examines how Hallyu can be sustained. Jin concludes the first chapter by enforcing the government’s success in pushing  Hallyu through support of cultural industries, though noting that “.. the Korean government has taken a major role because the cultural industries need active governmental intervention to grow as commodities, not as part of the national arts” (2016). This major role within a sector that normally sees smaller government involvement can provide positives and negatives for the creative industry: on one hand, the industry is able to sustain growth and continue to be an international cultural superpower; on the other hand it encourages promotion of the country with less focus on the actual cultural act of creativity.

Regardless of the effect, the role the Korean government plays in supporting it’s creative industry proves integral to its continued development, not just economically, but culturally as well. For a country that less than 30 years ago had both these industries on a tight reign of censorship, I’d say that’s a pretty important step forward.


Jin, Dal. New Korean Wave : Transnational Cultural Power in the Age of Social Media, University of Illinois Press, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uow/detail.action?docID=4443546.


Translating ‘Quality’ Television

In a much-needed deviation from last weeks’ focus on reality TV, this week our transnational media and culture industries class dove into the world of ‘quality’ TV – leaving the session with the stimulus question:

 “What is quality TV? How might the demand for content intersect with translations of popular genres?” 

If you’re anything like me, that sentence probably took a few re-reads before you realised you still had no idea what it was trying to ask. Though fear not, because if you really are anything like me, it can be understood with a process of learning those keyword definitions. And hey, we might even be able to answer it afterwards. Let’s break it up.

Showtimes ‘Homeland’ (2011 – 2020)

Quality TV:

‘Quality’ TV is programming that stands out. Part of it’s premise is that you would know it if you saw it. Resonant storylines, virtuous acting, high-standard production, 45 minute or longer runtime – these are all trademarks of ‘quality’ TV. It’s not regular TV. 

In Israel, creating ‘quality’ TV was actually made mandatory, resulting in some of the best drama scripts that have seen numerous remakes internationally – here’s how. 

In the 1990’s, with growing amounts of television channels appearing, the Israeli government passed a law stating that all private television channels had to ‘produce and air at least 150 hours yearly of high production value content’ (Perkins, 2015). The legislation created a distinction between ‘high end’ and ‘low end’ content based off how many hours and how much money was put into generating one hour of content. This basically set a precedent for the Israeli television industry becoming one of the top exporters of scripted television.

So now we know what ‘quality’ TV is, onwards to the rest of the question.

Demand for Content:

When we look at demand for content, it becomes pretty clear why it is increasing. Combining the rise of accessibility for viewers, the increased production rate of poorer countries, and the almighty prevalence of streaming services, it’s no wonder audiences have been skyrocketing. This means network channels are now competing with massive streaming services in a battle to stay relevant, whilst the streaming services need quality content to justify their audiences’ spending. So everyone is constantly building their brand in order to maintain a grasp in the market, and for the most part this is done through continual generation of new content. We truly are a hard bunch to satisfy. 

Translations of Popular Genres:

As talked about in my previous post on reality TV, Cultural Proximity and Cultural Capital are heavy factors in the modern audience’s decision-making when it comes to viewing content. Knowing this, streaming services and networks have made many attempts at translating foriegn content in order to be received by a new audience. Whilst this process is relatively simple and successful when creating closed translations such as game shows or reality TV, the task is much more complex when it involves the popular genres such as drama and comedy – scripted television that requires open translations. 

Additionally, with new ‘supplier’ countries beginning to emerge as a result of de-centralised production capabilities, scripted formats are suddenly much more available for translation. With an emergence of gripping drama scripts such as ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Prisoners of War’ coming from the less represented (in western culture) countries of Sweden and Israel, we start to see just how successful effective translations can be in attaining audiences, with the US versions ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Homeland’ proving extremely popular. 

So how does it all intersect?

Well in one spot there’s a constant demand for ‘quality’ content, in another there’s pre-existing ‘quality’ content ready for translation, and then there’s the daunting task of successfully translating this content for the new audience. Historically we’ve seen remakes both praised and condemned by audiences, so arguably the most important factor in translating popular TV genres is maintaining the essence of the original whilst remaining relevant in the new context, which is critical for producers to consider when developing the adaptations. Ultimately, there is a fine line between grasping at scripted remakes in order to fulfil an audience desire for quality tv, and misrepresenting those original scripts. Those who can tread this line are bound to remake some great content.

Perkins, Claire 2015. Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, “Translating the television ‘treatment’ genre: Be’Tipul and In Treatment” LINK

Reality TV: A Trans-National Format

I remember the first season of Australian Masterchef in 2009 – watching all these ordinary people competing for a cash prize and celebrity chef status. There’s this allure to reality television – the vicarious nature of it – you catch yourself thinking ‘that could be me!’. It was only recently I discovered that Masterchef had been around for almost 20 years by that point, just not in Australia. See, Masterchef had the ability to transcend cultural boundaries and prove successful in multiple countries, an often tricky task for scripted-style television shows. This success can be investigated and attributed to it’s format – reality television. We’ve seen a steady rise in its popularity, and there are few contributors to its success as a trans-national television format. 

The ‘Masterchef Australia’ judges

Cultural Proximity is a concept we’ve been exploring that provides insight into why and how content is successful in certain areas. In a nutshell, it defines the attraction audiences have towards content representative of their own culture – you’re more likely to watch a show in your own language, with tropes such as humour, costume styles, and gestures that you are familiar with. 

Historically, we’ve seen how media flows follow content from richer countries through to poorer countries, a process Edward Said described as ‘Cultural Imperialism”. For many years countries such as America and the United Kingdom were a dominating force with their television production. Their content was very one-way flowing, with little to no influence coming from poorer countries. We attribute this to a problem of capital for poorer countries. Basically, in societies with more money, more content can be created, which means more for audiences, which means more money for companies to put towards making new content. Very cyclical stuff. Poorer countries found it hard to compete, seeing as they simply did not have the capital to produce as frequently as others. 

The rise of reality television has introduced a new type of capital, one that even the poorer countries are abundant in – Cultural Capital. Elaborating on cultural proximity as a concept, cultural capital more specifically refers to how well we identify with traits a certain show might have – a program set in your time period in your hometown would have a large amount of capital for you as a viewer. 

Additionally, reality television is commonly a very fluid form of content as it can be reduced to a “shell” – a simple format for a show, and then exported. Creating television shows becomes much easier and cheaper this way, allowing poorer countries to start generating more content of their own. The rise in popularity of reality programs is largely due to the international sharing of these “shells”, which are easily adapted to fit into specific regions. 

These concepts: cultural proximity and cultural capital, combined with the exporting of “shells” are the main contributors to the way show format of television achieves not only local popularity, but almost seamlessly crosses borders and has become ingrained in numerous different cultures worldwide. When produced with focus on these concepts, reality TV can become much more widely received, much cheaper, and much more likely to succeed. The future of television is definitely steering away from the cultural imperialistic trends of the past, and towards a much more diversified and culturally informed future.

S.O.S Rework

In an activity based around getting comfortable working with MIDI files within Ableton, we were asked to have a play around with a pre-existing MIDI track to generate our own version. Here’s what I came up with:


The first thing I did after importing the MIDI file was assign each track with a sound/instrument. I picked out the drums and bass and gave them appropriate instruments to reflect what they were, but then went a bit wild randomising the other tracks. I included bells, an organ, strings, and a banjo among others. This was really not the most goal-aware choice, but I did it to try and see how I could completely change the representation of parts within the song.

I decided to have an attempt at building the song initially through layering, then jumped to a little break, then ran out of time and chucked a chorus at the end. I inverted the sections in which the drums play: so instead of only playing in the chorus and not the verse, they were present at all times EXCEPT the chorus. This wasn’t planned initially, but with the drum track I thought it would be best if it was punchy at the beginning and then changed in order to contrast the original.

Research and Creative Process

This week in BCM304 we explored the ideas of research and creative processes, starting to reflect on our own forms of generating content, and also took a dive into the world of work that we are soon to be thrust into.

Having never really considered anything specific as research when creating creative content, it was interesting to discover ways it was performed. In our seminar we looked at how something as simple as a style guide based on other sources can be commonly used, as well as just immersion within a context. A main take away was the importance of journaling (or blogging!) throughout the research process in order to help establish ideas. We looked at the three stages of practise based research: 

Research, Practise, Knowing.

Basically, the best research you can do in the creative field is a culmination of interpreting and applying. Since there is no set creative process, everyone’s will differ, but it remains that there needs to be that initial idea, that’s then looked into a bit deeper, that’s then practised, that’s then consistently applied if found to work. The best forms of research should be reflexive. Your best form of research is the one that you build on.

For the remainder of our seminar, we completed a few activities that aimed to help us gain work in the future. I think the most important thing to note here is that our ‘dream job’ is rarely available straight after tertiary education. Personally, I acknowledge the need to acquire MANY more skills before becoming a producer of sorts, or starting a videography business. We learnt that we can look at the required traits for a certain job we may desire and use that as a guide for what skills we have to learn before applying. Most of these skills can be learnt through working other jobs – ‘stepping stone jobs’ – for a period of time, in order to make sure we are seen as a great candidate for our dream job. 

The next task was an exercise in marketing ourselves for these jobs. We would reverse engineer a few of our past projects to gather details of what skills we already had. I looked at the short-form documentary I made within a group in second year, and wrote the following statement:

“One such project involved developing a short form documentary within assigned groups. Early on discussion and delegation saw us creating a reflective/observational documentary exploring four different artists and identifying the drive for their creativity. Within the group I engaged in the pre-production roles of thesis generation, talent acquisition, and equipment organisation. During production I took opportunities operating the camera, capturing audio, and interviewing the artists. My post-production roles consisted of file organisation, colour grading, editing consultant, and generating animations for both the title card and credit sequences.

Throughout the completion of this project, I gained a broad knowledge in many aspects of filmmaking. Most crucially I would highlight the ability to work with a diverse team while meeting a deadline, though I also was able to build experience working with technical equipment and Adobe software.”

In the coming week, we are to keep using past projects to find skills we will use to market ourselves for the coming CV and Portfolio assessment. 

A Personal Hero: Louis Theroux

In evaluating traits we think we may need in the pursuit of our own professional careers, this week in BCM304 we were asked to look at a hero we had. In doing so, we would create a mind map of their career, traits, character, and ideas.

Documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux is one of my heroes. There’s a intriguing sense of sincerity and curiosity embedded in his films, which work amazingly (for me at least) in creating fuller and gripping stories. Here’s my mindmap:

The Light


The Weather Project – Olafur Eliasson 2003

curiosity controls my mind

i feel the warmth upon my skin, burning away

it wasn’t from the heavens, it wasn’t from hell

the whispers of fear surround me, but i am not afraid

as hard as i try i cannot look away

we bask in the shine of mystery

it wont let me walk, entrapped in its grips

blinded by the light that lets me see

my eyes begin to fade and blur

sung into a daydream

i slowly kneel to the ground,

i am her slave.

Time Is Running Out



Project Pitch

Here is it, scroll down to the bottom for the project pitch:

My research project is well underway, and as outlined in my pitch, I am about to begin my observational and auto-ethnographic data and note collection. The Triple J YouTube channel will be visited by me on Friday’s for the next month, in attempt to achieve key autoe-ethnography feature ‘complete member researcher’ (CMR) status (Anderson, 2006).

My observational data will come from four main sources:

  1. Video Views
  2. Like/Dislike Ratio
  3. Video Comment Count
  4. Top Video Comment

As a result of the YouTube algorithm, the top comment will be the one that has the highest percentage of audience agreement. By analysing these, I aim to be able to get a good idea of what people in the community who actively engage with content really think. Merriam lists important elements that are likely present in any setting, being: the physical setting, the participants, activities and interactions, conversation, subtle factors, and your own behaviour (Merriam, 2009). I will be taking notes mainly on the participants, conversation, and my own behaviour with my research methods.

Readers should note that while I do express the expansiveness of Triple J’s online presence, my focus for this project is more tailored to their YouTube transition and content curation. I will not be considering views or comments on either their website, Facebook page, or Instagram account.

I look forward to undertaking this project as an auto-ethnographic researcher, as it will allow me to gain a deeper understanding of a community I am already involved in, as well as allow some extended exposure – however small that may be. That said, I will be careful when presenting findings in order to be as true to the members of the community as I possibly can, while protecting their identities and opinions.







ANDERSON, L. 2006. Analytic Auto-Ethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography – J CONTEMP ETHNOGR, 35, 373-395. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2453124/mod_resource/content/1/Leon%20Anderson%20Analytic%20Autoethnography.pdf

MERRIAM, S. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. 2009. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2464747/mod_resource/content/1/Ethical%20Use%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20and%20Findings%20510%20Donna%20M.%20Mertens%20The%20SAGE%20Handbook%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20Analysis.pdf

Research and Ethics

Having identified my media niche, explored its field site, and planned my approach for the auto-ethnographic research project, it was time to conduct some background research. This post aims to achieve two goals that will help progress the project in its coming stages. The first goal being conveyance of a solid understanding of the framework for analysis of data and notes, and the second an exploration of ethical issues that may surround my research, accompanied by a method of management for these issues.

Background Research

One of the key features of autoethnography is having complete member researcher (CMR) status (Anderson, 2006). A CMR has a close relation to a research group as they belong to it and are capable of a better understanding within that group through their personal experience. Personally, I consider myself being a member of the Like A Version ethnography as I actively engage with content by often ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’, and sometimes commenting on the videos posted on Triple J’s YouTube account. By having CMR status, I hope to be able consider my position within the Like A Version community in order to enhance my own methods of note-taking, these being through interaction with videos and personal reflectivity when viewing new ones.

In my background research I also found out about the importance of observation practices. ‘Certain behaviour is difficult to observe; further, a researcher must have the time, money, and energy to devote to observation and must be allowed to observe by those in the situation of interest’ (Merriam, 2009). While I do not have much money, I feel it is irrelevant in my auto-ethnography study so will disregard that aspect. I do note however, the importance of time, energy, and the need for devotion to the situation of interest as a crucial factor in my research. I consider myself devoted to the topic as it is one of personal interest. Merriam goes on to list important elements that are likely present in any setting, being: the physical setting, the participants, activities and interactions, conversation, subtle factors, and your own behaviour (2009). YouTube accounts do not necessarily allow all of these to be known to other viewers, but I do believe analysis of the participants, activities and interactions, conversation and my own behaviour can all be taken into account when observing data from the YouTube comment section.


Mertens posed the question ‘If qualitative researchers view their purpose as the creation of knowledge or even self-insight, then what are their ethical responsibilities in terms of representation, voice, and credibility? (2014). I believe my research can be purposed as a source of knowledge for musicians and the Triple J producers to develop better understanding of their Like A Version audience, what works and what does not.

My responsibilities first and foremost are to represent the community of viewers fairly and authentically. For this project I will not use anyone’s names, and instead use my own reflective notes when referring to the top comments made by the audience – keeping as true to the original comments as I can. Another way to manage any unethical practise is to give all credit to Triple J and the bands represented within videos, continually reflecting on data and notes collected and viewing them from a non-biased perspective, regardless of any urge to convey my personal opinions and experience when representing them.


ANDERSON, L. 2006. Analytic Auto-Ethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography – J CONTEMP ETHNOGR, 35, 373-395. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2453124/mod_resource/content/1/Leon%20Anderson%20Analytic%20Autoethnography.pdf

MERRIAM, S. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. 2009. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2464747/mod_resource/content/1/Ethical%20Use%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20and%20Findings%20510%20Donna%20M.%20Mertens%20The%20SAGE%20Handbook%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20Analysis.pdf

MERTENS, D. M. 2014. The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2464747/mod_resource/content/1/Ethical%20Use%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20and%20Findings%20510%20Donna%20M.%20Mertens%20The%20SAGE%20Handbook%20of%20Qualitative%20Data%20Analysis.pdf

A Plan of Attack

The first two weeks of BCM241 has seen students decide on and begin to unravel the under working field site of their media niche – a topic that will be explored further as part of an auto-ethnographic research project. This week, we are asked to develop an approach to our research that will be appropriate for our specified niche. To do this, we must first problematise said niche. This boils down to finding an angle that can examine a key issue or question in regards to the topic. The next step is to detail the plan, including methods of observation and auto-ethnography that will be used when undertaking research. Lastly, a schedule needs to be established that details a timeline of the project, explaining the particular dates I’ll be working on each aspect of my research. I’ll now go address each of these steps in relation to my auto-ethnographic research topic – Tripe J’s ‘Like A Version’.

Problematising ‘Like A Version’

Choosing LAV as a study can be attributed to a love I have for music, especially live music, and especially local music. COVID-19 has left a live show shaped whole in my heart, and I find a good substitute for this is in YouTube videos. Often I find myself checking out the newest LAV on Triple J’s channel, and I figured this would be a great topic to investigate as it is something I already have a great interest in. When it came to problematising, I realised there are a few ways to tackle the LAV study.  I found it interesting that some cover songs performed so well where others tended to fall flat, so I asked myself,

What makes these covers so popular?

Why do we enjoy hearing our favourite bands play songs that aren’t theirs?

So that was to be my focus, in hopes that a finalised research project could convey attributes of successful covers to potential performers.

The Plan

In order to have a solid basis for my analysis, I will need to collect not only observational data, but autoethnographic samples as well. To do this, over a period of 4 weeks I will watch 2 LAV videos each Friday, 8 in total. The first will be the video posted from the previous Friday, giving me an idea of the traction a cover gets after it’s first week on YouTube. The second LAV I watch each Friday will be either the most or least popular video from the previous year. Over four weeks, I will have interacted with four current Like A Version videos, as well as the most and least popular from 2018 and 2019. Understanding that there are different outlets for LAV videos to be posted, I will use only YouTube data to keep the field fair. The popularity of each video will be established by it’s view count.

There will be a largely varying audience following for each artist, so I will consort with Spotify to determine the amount of monthly listeners and take that into account.

For each video, I will also record the ratio of ‘likes’ to ‘dislikes’, establishing an basic idea of how videos are received. Additionally, I will look at the top three most ‘popular’ comments, again ranked by likes, to determine a consensus of audience interaction. This will account for the observational aspect of my data.

To compile auto-ethnographic data I will initially note the kinds of music I am into, addressing the personal bias I might have with genre/performers. For each video, I will provide my own overall ‘like’ or ‘dislike’, and  will record a personal dialogue stating what I enjoyed and what I didn’t.

Ideally, after four weeks I will have a large data set to draw from and be able to summarise how popularity among artists is established on YouTube.


In order to stay up to date and produce a properly compiled and analysed final report, I will stick to the following schedule.

Week 6: Pitch the project in tutorials, background research into YouTube live videos

Weeks 7-9: Collect data and notes from eight LAV videos

Week 9: Begin to analyse and reflect on data

Weeks 10-12: Analyse and compile findings, reflect on background research and readings

Week 12: Write research report, script the video essay

Week 13: Film and edit video essay, submit assignment