September 25 2022 10:44 PM E-paper Subscribe Sign in My Account Sign out

Korean wave takes Jordan by storm

lightsticks
(Photo: Envato Elements)
The Korean wave, known in South Korea as “Hallyu”, has struck the world with its outstanding culture, sparking international curiosity. And Jordan is no exception. اضافة اعلان

Causing the spread of a new and diverse world of entertainment, the Korean wave has impacted markets worldwide and continues to grow as it topples music charts and sparks trends on social media. Talented South Korean directors, soccer players, companies, Korean popular music (Kpop) artists, and Korean drama (Kdrama) actors captivated the world with their appealing looks, eye-catching fashion, and innovative and surprising concepts weaved into their works.

Despite the language barrier, which could have been a disadvantage, Korean language learners, who double as fans, spiked globally — Duolingo places Korean as the seventh most-popular language to study across the globe — to better engage with Korean culture and further support their favorite celebrities.

Locally, South Korea’s ambassador to Jordan, Lee Jae-wan, previously told a local news outlet that when he arrived in Amman, he found that Korean companies like Hyundai and Kia made a third of the cars on the streets. He also noted that many mobile phones used are made by Samsung.

Cultural activities sponsored by the Korean Embassy in Jordan during the second half of 2022, and a possibility of a Kpop group visiting Jordan at the beginning of August to participate in the Jerash Festival, were also on the ambassador’s docket.


(Photo: BTS)

Kpop

Music-wise, Kpop has been the talk of the music industry for a while, thanks to its unique visual presentation, catchy lyrics, and captivating video visuals. The numerous genres — from rock and ballads to pop, hip-hop, electronic, and dance — also helped fans find something suitable for their taste. But, what sets Kpop groups apart is their ability to rap, sing, and dance simultaneously.

While modern Kpop has played an enormous part in spreading Hallyu globally, the spread of the wave began in the 1990s with the group Seo Taiji and Boys pioneering the establishment of the Kpop industry we know today.

Even if you are not a fan of Kpop, you have probably come across the name BTS.

Reaching a global audience is no new feat in the Kpop industry. Still, the boy group “BTS”, which debuted in 2013, took it to another level, breaking records, topping billboard charts for weeks, and garnering a devoted fan base known as the “Army”. The group played a huge role in spreading the Korean wave and culture not just through music but also through relatability in discussing mental health problems and everyday struggles.
Although it was a challenge to bring people together initially, ... the number of Kpop fans is noticeably increasing in Jordan each year.
A Kpop fan since 2013, 24-year-old Sara Khreisat, told Jordan News that she began to enjoy Korean culture when a friend showed her a BTS song. “Their music, lyrics, and message resonated with me,” Khreisat said. “I started to dig deeper into Korean entertainment and culture and found joy and comfort ever since.”

Muna Abed Al-Basset, head of “Jordan Kpop Lovers”, established the community organization in 2011 to gather those who enjoy Hallyu in Jordan.

Although it was a challenge to bring people together initially, Basset said, the number of Kpop fans is noticeably increasing in Jordan each year. She added that the number of fans who attended the last Kpop World Festival reached 2,500, ranging from 12–29 years old. While most are females, the number of male fans is growing.

The Korean Embassy in Jordan, as a result of the increase, is constantly planning events with Jordan Kpop Lovers.

Kpop artists, or “idols”, follow a strict training regimen under entertainment companies in Korea, including JYP Entertainment, SM Entertainment, and YG Entertainment — known as “the big three”.

The training regimens, along with other features created by Kpop fanbases, such as “fancams” — where the camera focuses on one member’s every move — played a huge role in the popularity of idols.


(Photo: Shutterstock)

‘Lightsticks’

But what gives Kpop groups and fans the feeling of being united are “lightsticks”, which, as the name suggests, are handheld devices specific to a Kpop group that can connect with similar lightsticks, bringing fans at concerts or other events together. However, getting lightsticks and other merchandise is competitive since they get sold out quickly.

In Jordan, getting merchandise is even more difficult due to high shipping and customs fees. As a result, local Kpop shops have been increasingly spreading on social media platforms, allowing Jordanian fans to feel connected.

Owner of online Instagram Kpop store @shop.kpop.jordan, Khitam Al-Kalaileh, told Jordan News that she opened her store because she “found it difficult to buy Kpop merchandise anywhere in Jordan”. Hence, she decided to take matters into her own hands and “help Jordanian Kpop fans to get their hands on various products”.


(Photo: IMDb)

Kdramas

Kdramas also substantially impacted the spread of Hallyu. This television genre gained popularity by touching on societal and cultural issues prevalent worldwide. Major themes include poverty, mental illnesses, family issues, and shedding light on the different classes of Korean society.

By reflecting on the reality of the Korean labor system, people could see their own stories through the lens of Kdramas.

In 2012, Middle Eastern broadcasting channels introduced Kdramas, airing the famous show “Boys Over Flowers”, which paved the way for the Korean wave in the Middle East. And due to its conservative nature, the lack of nudity and sexual scenes in shows appealed to Middle Eastern audiences.

Talented South Korean actors with breathtaking performances played the biggest role in sparking its popularity. Lee Min Ho, for example, is largely known as the first crush for every Kdrama watcher in the Middle East.


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