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Contemporary culture of South Korea

Since its divsion into two separate states, South Korea has developed a distinct contemporary culture.

See also: Culture of Korea on traditional culture

Table of contents
1 K- Pop
2 Karaoke
3 Korean Film
4 Way of Life
5 Foreign influences
6 The influence of technology

K- Pop

Korea has its own pop industry with native singers. Many of the Korean pop starts and pop groups are well known in East Asia and other parts of Asia.

Famous groups and singers include:

External Link : Korean Pop Music Source


Karaoke is called Noraebang in Korea, but the Japanese word Karaoke is in use, too. It is a popular way to spend evening. Karaoke bars can be found at many corners in the cities and are popular with young and older generations alike.

Korean Film

Since the success of the Korean film Shiri in 1999 Korean film seems unstoppable. Today South korea is one of the few countries where Hollywood productions cannot easily dominate.

Shiri was a film about a North Korean spy preparing a coup in Seoul. The film was the first in Korean history to sell more than 2 million tickets in Seoul alone. This helped Shiri to surpass box office hits such as '\'The Matrix or Star Wars. The success of Shiri'' motivated other Korean films with large budgets for Korean circumstances.

In 2000 the film JSA (Joint Security Area) was a huge success and even surpassed the benchmark set by Shiri. One year later, the film Friend managed the same. In South Korea the romantic comedy My Sassy Girl outsold Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter which ran at the same time.

This success attracted the attention of Hollywood. Films such as Shiri are now distributed in the USA, and in 2001 Miramax even bought the rights to a Americanized remake of the successful Korean My Wife is a Gangster.

The 2003 supsense thriller Janghwa, Hongnyeon (Tale of Two Sisters) was successful as well, leading Dreamworks to pay $2 million (US) for the rights to a remake, topping the $1 million (US) paid for the Japanese movie The Ring.

Many of the Korean films reflect how much the Korean people long for reunification and suffer from the division of the peninsula. Many of the films underline feelings which cause them to be likened to French films. The Korean film industry, however, now produces all kinds of films.

Way of Life

The industrialisation and urbanisation of South Korea has brought many changes to the way people live. In the past, most people lived in small rural villages. Changes to peoples' lifestyles has led to many young people leaving country areas to find new opportunities in the cities (particularly Seoul). In the past, it was not uncommon for several generations to live under one roof; today South Koreans are moving more towards the standard nuclear family.

South Korea is a very competetive academic environment (getting into a prestigious university is considered a prerequisite to any kind of success); for this reason, high school students often spend a huge amount of their time studying. Many South Korean parents consider it to be essential that their sons and daughters attend private institutes (Korean: 학원/학당) to learn a variety of subjects, ranging from the study of Chinese characters to music, art and English.

Foreign influences

South Korea has been highly influenced in recent years by foreign countries; primarily by the United States and Japan. Many people enjoy watching Japanese and American films and cartoons. Until 1998, when restrictions were eased, the importation of all Japanese movies, music and comics had been technically illegal due to the negative feelings of many Korean people towards Japan as a result of its' occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. Today, though, many people believe that this ban is outdated.

The influence of foreign countries has changed peoples' eating habits as well; many people now enjoy Japanese, Chinese, and Western food in addition to traditional Korean foods. Pizza seems to be a particularly popular foreign food among South Koreans.

South Korean dress has also been heavily influenced by foreign coutries; young people in Korea dress much as their Japanese and Western counterparts.

The influence of technology

Computers and the internet play an important role in the life of young South Koreans today. Around 60% of South Korean homes are equipped with high-speed internet connections. Koreans are such enthusiastic internet users that many popular South Korean web portals such as Daum and Naver, have some of the highest traffic ratings in the world, despite the fact that their content is only accessible to Korean speakers. Koreans use the internet for sending e-mails and instant messages, for research, but most commonly for playing multiplayer games such as Starcraft. People often access the internet through "PC bangs" (the equivalent of cyber cafes; Korean: PC 방). Korean gamers are famous (infamous?) for their devotion to their hobby, and many gaming sessions last hours; in a few extreme cases, days. One man was found dead in a PC room after gaming for four straight days without sleep, food, or water. See this article for details.

Koreans are also prolific mobile phone uses (Korean: 핸드 폰). South Koreans of all ages have mobile phones, and use them for viewing websites and for sending text/picture messages. Only a few years ago, most people only had "beepers"; today, it would be a struggle to find someone without a mobile phone.