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Hello Asia editor Johnny Au travelled to Korea to recently to speak with two of their most respected journalists in popular culture and entertainment. Ms Lee Eun-Jung and Ms Yoon Go-Eun are both from the largest news outlet Yonhap News Agency. Ms Lee Eun-Jung is the head reporter for Korean music at Yonhap and she specialises in K-Pop after covering the industry for many years. Ms Yoon Go-Eun is the head reporter for Drama and Film and is widely respected in the industry.

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Ms. Lee Eun-Jung (Music)

What are your thoughts on the K-Pop Night Out showcases that is produced by KOCCA? Do you think the concept has brought benefits to the Korean music industry?

Rather than saying that it benefiting the Korean music industry, a Korean singer being introduced into foreign music industry itself is meaningful. For example, last year I watched a group called Dynamic Duo performing at France’s K-Pop Night Out. After the showcase the group also performed at various club concerts in Europe. So if the performances can move beyond being a one-time concert and continue into series of concerts, then I think it has positive influence on Korean music industry.

Do you think it is healthy for the Korean music industry when it is so largely dominated by the big labels (SM, YG etc) large companies such as CJ E&M and the major TV broadcasters?

I think the big labels and large companies are expanding the industry size with their ability to produce quality contents and financial stability. Also, I believe the major companies are assisting the growth of small enterprises, leading them into bigger markets. For example, after SM Entertainment first implemented idol training system, a lot of small enterprises bench marketed the concept. Now the idol music industry has expanded greatly, and every company adopted the training system to participate in the industry. In this sense the major entertainments play positive role within the industry. In a negative sense, as the major labels the companies have dominance in coming out on television shows and promoting the albums with music sites which can challenge the small enterprises.

Has there been any criticism by the Korean public on the amount of money that is spent by the Korean government on the promotion of K-Pop?

Actually the development of K-Pop was not achieved by the government. It was rather the public, in general the entertainment companies which contributed to the growth of K-Pop. As the government participated in promoting the K-Pop artists under the name of ‘hallyu’, there used to be negative perspective on how big the industry is growing into. However, as the influence of hallyu grew exponentially and as the public is well aware of the power of hallyu, negative opinions on K-Pop no longer exists. Also, it’s not as if the government is spending ridiculous amount of money for K-Pop promotion so the people generally have no attitudes towards K-Pop now.

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Ms. Yoon Go-Eun (Drama and Film)

We visited the Busan Film Festival recently and was greatly impressed by the scale and size of the event. Do you see Korean films making a larger impact and influence the worldwide film industry in future years?

Even though it will take some time, the Korean film industry definitely will have impact in the worldwide film industry in future years. The growth of Korean film industry is quite slow compared to the drama and music industry. As the Academy committee spoke at the Busan Film Festival about the possibility of Korean films receiving Academy awards, I believe in the ability of Korean movie to become well-known in foreign countries.

Which if any Korean film stars do you see crossing over to Hollywood and starring in major productions?

Korean film stars such as Lee Byung Hun, Bae Do Na, Kim Yun Jin and Chae Min Sik have already crossed over to Hollywood productions with Lee Byung Hun being the most successful case. I think there are a lot of talented individuals who has the acting skills as well as the ability to speak fluent English to take part in Hollywood production.

TV drama and the export of Korean Drama to other Asian countries is a big money earner for TV and drama production companies in Korea. Why do you think Korean drama shows are popular here in Korea and around Asia?

Globally there is a lot of action genre involving violence when it comes to dramas. However the Korean dramas are still focusing on conveying romance, comedy and family value in its productions. I think these characteristics are the reason behind Korean dramas’ popularity in Asia. For the future, Korean dramas should stay focused on delivering story to the audience rather than considering the scale or action.

Translation: Lucy Lee

The author travelled to Korea as part of KOFICE Korea Joa International Culture exchange