Updated February. 21, 2014 01:02
Fried chicken and a glass of beer are perfect for a snowy day. A line of a Korean drama caused a craze for fried chicken and beer in China. After Jun Ji-hyun, a lead cast in the drama My Love from the Star, said the line, people queued up and waited for three hours to buy Korean fried chicken in Shanghai. Some say that it changed the eating habit of Chinese who used to eat fried chicken with coke.
The drama became very popular in China soon after it gained popularity in Korea. If an episode is aired in Korea, it is posted on Chinese websites within an hour, and even Chinese subtitles within two hours. HB Entertainment, the producer, sold an online copyright to iQiyi, a Chinese drama company, and it is now aired in China. Baidu, a Chinese portal site, pumps out articles on the Korean drama. Top celebrities such as Fan Bingbing and Gao Yuanyuan confess that they are big fans of the drama, posting screenshots of the drama on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.
If Japan had Yon Sama (Bae Yong-jun) in the 1990s, China has Kim Soo-hyun in the 2000s. Kim has more than 3.7 million Weibo followers. Kims Chinese fan club issued a full-page advertisement on his birthday. Lee Min-ho, a lead cast in the popular Korean drama The heirs, showed up in a Chinese New Year special program, which earns the top rating among viewers in China. The Korean wave has come back in China after a lull since Daejanggeum.
The Korean wave not only promotes Korean culture but also leads to economic benefits. CJs bakery cafe Tous Les Jours saw its revenue increase by 30 percent in China compared to last year after using Kim Soo-hyun as an advertisement model. BBQ, a fried chicken brand, introduced a fried chicken and beer set menu in its 155 stores in China. The sales of fried chicken and beer soared by 50 percent compared to the same period of last year. According to the Export-Import Bank of Korea, a 100-dollar increase in cultural product exports leads to a 412-dollar increase in general consumer products export and a 395-dollar increase in IT products on average.
The export-driven economy based on the manufacturing industry has limits in creating jobs. The growth in soft contents including culture contributes to more value-add jobs. To produce quality cultural contents, the government should not only pay attention to them but also encourage related sectors to create a free and creative environment. The Korean wave is the best creative economy.