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About the Korea Project

Culture and Influence: Looking East

If Europe wants to maintain its cultural influence, she needs to look East. Blessed by ancient and vibrant cultures, Asia’s economic powerhouses are fast becoming cultural engines as well. Today, no Asian country better illustrates these ongoing changes than Korea—a country that was never expected to become a cultural hub three decades ago and that is today sending “Korean Waves” (“Hallyu”) all over the world.

Focusing on the West, notably the United States, most Europeans ignore what is happening in the East. They notice the success of some Korean and Asian cultural products, but they see them as rare and fugitive events, as exceptions in a world largely dominated by Western cultural industries. They do not perceive the systemic nature of what is going on and growing in cinema, music, TV dramas, among other cultural arenas. This blindness is nurtured by defensive mentalities from a few European quarters which make even more difficult the emergence and success of the Europeans eager to follow the Korean (Asian) growth path.

Our Goal and Objectives

Our goal is to better understand and to draw lessons from the successes and challenges of “Hallyu” in the world. It requires studies combining fact finding with policy evaluation based on economic and business analyses, as well as events nurturing lively debates.

It can be divided into five specific objectives: (i) a more accurate measurement of the diffusion of Korean (Asian) cultural products in the world; (ii) a better understanding of why their success has been so fast and wide in the highly competitive cultural world markets; (iii) a greater analysis of the strategies of the Korean companies which have been the dynamic force behind this achievement; (iv) a stronger grasp of which public policies have supported these successes and which ones have not; and, finally, (v) a wider view of a few key emerging challenges, such as those from China.

Last but not least, our initiative will pay utmost attention to “culture” per se. This term is nowadays often used as an excuse for protecting narrow economic vested interests. Cultural industries and policies can promote culture, but some stringent or inadequate policies can suffocate it. Assessing both the positive and negative roles of these policies will be an important task toward developing effective policy-relevant conclusions.

Learning more about the Korean experience should help European countries to discover ways to promote their own culture. Conversely, reviewing and assessing European experiences should be useful for Korea (and its Asian counterparts) for current or future choices in cultural matters. These are two complementary steps forward to a true “cultural diversity” in the world.

Our Team

This Project is run by a team of five economists, business economists, and media specialists from Europe and Korea. It is funded by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS).

Patrick Messerlin, Director of the Project, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Sciences Po Paris.
Hwy-Chang Moon, Professor of International Business and Strategy, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University.
Kyuchan Kim, Ph.D., Korea Culture and Tourism Institute.
Nissim Otmazgin, Professor and Chair, Department of Asian Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem”
Jimmyn Parc, Ph.D., Visiting Lecturer, Sciences Po Paris and Research Associate, EU Center, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University.