“Gaga for Gangnam: $20 Million Bet on Bringing Korean Pop Culture to China”

“Gaga for Gangnam: $20 Million Bet on Bringing Korean Pop Culture to China”

by Lilian Lin via “The Independent

Korean pop with Chinese characteristics? As the Korean pop culture craze in China continues to grow, some companies are betting heavily on the Middle Kingdom’s appetite for more Gangnam Style-style entertainment.

Hong Kong’s Media Asia and Taiwan’s Fubon Group recently teamed up with South Korea’s SM Entertainment, the country’s music and artist management giant, to set up an investment fund with $20 million in seed money to support various film &TV projects, focusing on China and global Chinese-language audiences.

SM, which manages a slate of top-tier Korean artists, including Girls’ Generation — a popular Korean girl band that won big at the YouTube Music Awards last year – says China is its most important market. According to the agreement, MediaAsia will also begin representing three artists currently backed by S.M Entertainment, including the Korean boy band EXO – a currently 11-member group that has three Chinese members and battled Justin Bieber and One Direction for Worldwide Act at MTV European Music Award last year.

The deal comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit earlier this year to Seoul, when the two countries signed a string of deals to accelerate cultural exchanges, including an agreement to allow China-Korea co-production films to be seen as domestic films, allowing them to bypass strict imported film quotas in China’s theaters.

“Korean and Chinese government are looking forward to accelerating culture exchanges,” said Han Se-min, CEO of S.M Culture & Contents. “It definitely facilitates our cooperation.”

China’s obsession with all things Korean spans, of course, Psy’s smash hit Gangnam style, which remains beloved by China’s middle-age women who love to dance in public parks, as well as toddlers encouraged to dance in kindergarten classrooms.

This year’s K-pop craze in China, though, has been given further fuel by the rom-com Korean TV series “My Love From the Star.”

The smash hit TV series not only sparked a new fondness in China for fried chicken and beer – a dish often eaten by characters on the show – it also turned Kim Soo-hyun, a fresh-faced Korean heartthrob best known for playing the show’s ageless alien character, into a most-wanted star for China’s advertisers. Ads featuring his image touting everything from mineral water to shoes to moon cakes are ubiquitous in China. The show has been watched more than 14.5 billion times since last December’s debut. . . . .

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