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Seoul eyes new body to keep hallyu vibrant

Seoul plans to establish a new body tasked with developing strategies and action plans for keeping hallyu vibrant and strong, the government said Thursday.

In its annual policy report to President Park Geun-hye, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism unveiled the plan, adding that the envisioned entity will launch as early as March and will consist of experts from both the public and private sectors.

“It will serve as a control tower, spearheading and coordinating various efforts to expand hallyu’s reach overseas,” a ministry official explained Wednesday, prior to Thursday’s briefing to the president.

Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, refers to the popularity overseas of Korean TV dramas, pop music and other cultural products.

It started about a decade ago in Japan with a series of megahit soap operas. Soon enough, other Asian countries including China caught up, churning out ardent fans of Korean culture.

Now pop music is front and center of hallyu, with a handful of idol groups enthralling a growing number of global fans with their addictive songs, dashing looks and flashy dance moves.

The ministry’s move comes amid growing concerns here over the sustainability of hallyu as China ― hallyu’s biggest market ― and other countries move to rein in Korea’s skyrocketing cultural exports.

Culture Minister Kim Jong-deok had warned last year that hallyu would lose its appeal unless it moves on from its current cookie-cutter style and content.

The new body will work to diversity the markets ― currently, Asia takes a lion’s share of hallyu exports ― while sharpening market penetration strategies with the use of Big Data, the ministry said.

It will also lay the foundation for “hallyu 3.0,” in which Korea’s traditional culture enjoys global popularity, following the eras of Korean TV dramas (hallyu 1.0) and K-pop (hallyu 2.0).

By Lee Sun-young (