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Hallyu 2.0: Lu Chen

Korean Wave and the Rising of Online Anti-Korea Sentiments in China

Since 1998, the Korean cultural products began to flood into the Chinese market. Among these products, Korean dance music and TV dramas quickly attracted numerous avid Chinese young fans. Beginning from the arrival of dance music group H.O.T in 1998, the broadcast of TV drama “Dae Jang Geum (Great Jang Geum),” which got the highest audience rating in China during the year 2005, can be seen as the culmination of the Korean Wave. Although after 2006, due to the internal problems of Korean entertaining industry and the challenge from other new trends, the popularity of Korean Wave gradually diminished, its influence is still lasting among the Chinese youth. Compared to other ideologically subversive foreign popular culture disseminated in China—e.g., American TV dramas and pop music, Japanese anime and manga—Korean popular-culture products face less restrictions and censorship to enter the Chinese market because of their innocuous content. The cooperation in the cultural realm, such as co-production of films and annually held China-Korean Concert, are encouraged by the governments of both China and Korea. In 2007, Wen Jiabao, the Premier of China, stressed the Chinese government will continue to support the cultural exchange activities including Korean Wave. Moreover, compared to the Unites States and Japan, the political, diplomatic and economic relationship between China and Korea is quite stable. In the official discourse, no territorial disputes and historical problems exist between the two countries. Therefore, unlike the dissemination of American, Japanese or Indian popular culture in China, which is frequently influenced or even interrupted by fluctuated bi-literal relationship and aversion in the public, the Korean Wave is supposed to appeal more Chinese youth without any resistance. However, since 2006, a trend of anti-Korea nationalistic sentiment generated from the cyberspace and finally became a dominant discourse among Chinese netizens. For example, the largest virtual conflict is the “Sacred War,” which happened in 2010. More than 0.1 million Chinese netizens participated in online protesting and hacking activities to show their anger towards the Korean popular dance-music group “Super Junior” and their Chinese fans. The purpose of my research is to reveal the underlying mechanism of the rising anti-Korea sentiment in Chinese cyberspace and its interaction with the dissemination of Korean Wave. Current studies on Chinese online nationalism, e.g. anti-America and anti-Japanese sentiment, usually emphasizes more on the elite discourse and protesting process rather than the factors contribute to nationalistic activities or feelings. The reason is that these studies discuss about the momentary events such as hacking after the 1999 bombing of China's Belgrade embassy, which are triggered by obvious territorial violation. My research will try to switch from the real to the virtual, the political to the cultural to show that without the territorial conflicts in reality, the government sponsored dissemination, the spread of rumors, the competition among the idols/fans and the feelings of cultural superiority can shape a “virtual war towards Korean Wave.”