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Korean Wave touches Peru, Argentina in different steps

The Korean Wave, or hallyu, has hit Latin America, where an increasing number of people are becoming more interested in Korean dramas, K-pop and Korean classical musicians, the Korean ambassadors to Peru and Argentina said.

“In Peru, the Korean Wave is literally explosive. While the state-run TV’s viewer ratings hit an average 2 percent, channels that air hallyu content such as K-dramas, sitcoms and films, mark 6 percent viewer ratings on average,” said Park Hee-kwon, ambassador to Peru, told The Korea Herald.

“Young Peruvian people have already organized more than 60 hallyu fan clubs across the nation. Peru is seeing the fastest growth in Latin America in light of hallyu’s spread,” he said.
Korean Ambassador to Peru Park Hee-kwon (right) and Korean Ambassador to Argentina Han Byung-gil discuss the Korean Wave during an interview in Seoul, Sunday.(Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)
Korean Ambassador to Peru Park Hee-kwon (right) and Korean Ambassador to Argentina Han Byung-gil discuss the Korean Wave during an interview in Seoul, Sunday.(Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)

Normally, Korean culture reaches global audiences first with films and dramas, then with K-pop.

But in Argentina, people have suddenly become interested in K-pop and then in Korean classical music stars, said Han Byung-gil, who will take office as ambassador to Argentina on March 2. Park and Han visited Seoul to attend the conference of diplomatic mission heads this week, held annually by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In Buenos Aires, the Korean Cultural Center ― the only one in South America so far ― held two K-pop contests in 2010 and 2011, in which hundreds of people from more than a dozen countries in the region competed with K-pop songs and dances.

However, the fact that Argentineans are not only interested in K-pop, but also in Korean classical musicians, is quite unique in Latin America, said Han, who also served as envoy to Peru.

“Especially Europeans, who form a majority of Argentine people, are very interested in classical music,” Han said.

He said soprano Jo Su-mi and violinist Sarah Chang are scheduled to come to Buenos Aires to perform at Teatro Colon, one of the best concert venues in the world.

To keep overseas fans interested in Korean culture long term, two-way communication is essential, said Park.

“Rather than organizing one-time, one-sided events, artists in both countries should hold joint performances so that the audience can understand both cultures,” he said.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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