B. Representations of Women in Korean Drama
At the turn of the 21st century, the world witnessed a global phenomenon involving the rise of interest in Korean pop culture. This spread of popularity is termed Hallyu, transliterated as “flow of Korea”, by academic scholars. Kpop music and Korean dramas have been captivating a lot of people, especially teenagers and young adults, not only in Asia but also in the West. The Korean entertainment industry emerged as a major player in the export of popular culture, competing with the Western countries like the US and UK. Capitalizing on this, the Korean government used Hallyu to increase its soft power and supported the export of everything Korean: from food, taekwondo, traditional culture and history, to cosmetics, and tourism, even allotting some of its national budget for the said purpose. As Hallyu successfully and continuously conquers the world’s entertainment industry, we, as its target audience, must not consume blindly but instead, we should be critical of the kind of media we immerse ourselves in because it greatly affects our idea and perception of everyday reality according to Cultivation Theory. This paper aims to examine portrayals of women in Hallyu by identifying the tropes and common qualities of female leads in internationally-recognized Korean dramas. The effects of these constructed female images on Korean society will then be examined. Also, female gender roles present in Korean society and their roots in history will be identified. Lastly, the interaction of the media portrayal of women and their societal role will be analyzed using the Cultivation Theory.