In 2021, COVID-19 has changed and regulated many of the things that mankind took for granted and freely enjoyed before. Not being able to go abroad, to travel or study, is probably the harshest change that people face in this new reality. In fact, it is quite easy to find people whose plans had been ruined and there are many others eager to go abroad. This situation applies to not only local people but also billions of people all around the world. Maybe because of this, a Korean theme park had been built in Malaya Park, 260km southeast from Jakarta. This park is called ‘Jeju park,’ and was modeled after a Korean traditional village(Buk-chon Hanok) in Seoul. It offers numerous activities to experience Korean culture.
This is a place where K-pop and drama fans can feel as if they are in Korea without having to go there, and where everyone from children to adults can enjoy themselves. Other parks resemble Korea in other places, but the Korea Park was able to bring out more of the Korean atmosphere thanks to the nearby river. Ms. Anisa of the Malaya Park Creative Team, who planned and created the Jeju Park, said, “The Hanok Village faces a canyon, so both the daytime lighting and night view is great.” Mr. Yusup said, “This place is privately owned. The owner of the property instructed us to create a theme park, and we were instructed to create a Korean town.” In fact, in an interview with the Korea Daily, Sani, who is the president of the Korea Love Association, said, “I love Korea so much that I’ve been to Korea six times. This is a formula to soothe my nostalgia for Korea when I can’t fly because of COVID-19.” Thus, this theme park can be attributed to the Indonesian people’s interest in Korean culture.
Many Indonesians say that they feel positive and very satisfied with this place. Let’s take a closer look at the structure that has now attracted so many people. There is a traditional Korean villiage(Hanok Maeul) with a wall similar to Gwanghwamun in Seoul with a sign saying “Jeju Park,” a Hanbok rental store and restrooms. They play Arirang and other traditional Korean music, and there are Hangul signs everywhere, including Buk-chon Hanok Village. Visitors can see signs and objects of K-pop singers such as BTS and BLACKPINK, as well as the Seoul Subway with Korail signs, and after passing the bamboo tunnel street, visitors will see a huge sculpture with PSY’s song “Gangnam Style” written on it. There are also plans to hold various events such as K-pop performances at the site. This hasn’t been built completely yet, though. In an interview with RENGO News, Mr. Yusup mentioned that this park was built by members who have never been to Korea and they’ve found informations from Google search mostly. For this reason, many signs in this park have some errors. Therefore, to deal with this problem, the Korean Cultural Institute in Indonesia will try to help them actively.
It is cleary seen that the main reason for the existence of this park is the craze of the Korean Wave since 2002. The popularity is not diminished now, but it is rather rapidly growing. According to a survey conducted by the Korea International Cultural Exchange Promotion Agency, the most popular content in Indonesia is related to Korea. Moreover, the Asian-Korean center summarizes the reasons as follows: First, because of economic development, Indonesia can increase its cultural demand, and the competitiveness of Korean cultural products is also increased. Second, because of curiosity about a new culture that has fewer religious restrictions than the Islamic culture of Indonesia. Finally, the two countries are on the same continent, but they have different looks and especially, the appearance of Korean celebrities who are described as ‘really beautiful.’
In a discussion held by the Indonesian Overseas Korean Cultural Center on Hangeul Day, CNN’s Indonesian reporter Christie Stephanie said the spread of K-drama was smooth because it was almost simultaneously introduced to the newly established private TV station. In 2002, viewer ratings of K-drama’s endless love were 10%, meaning 2.8 million people watched it, but the viewer ratings of Full House, which aired in 2005, were close to 40%. Besides, K-pop artists’ participation in K-drama allowed Indonesians to become familiar with the K-pop scene, and as a result, a Korean actor and singer ‘Rain’ who was the main character of Full House held the first solo concert of a K-pop singer in Jakarta in 2009. The increase is also seen in CNN Indonesia’s article page view, which began publishing news articles about the Korean entertainment industry in 2017, with the number of clicks increasing sevenfold to 28,000 during three years since the hashtag #Korean Wave began in 2018. News readers are most curious about their favorite K-pop singer’s personal information and additional stories about popular dramas and actors. According to Pitri Meutia who participated in the same discussion and who is a lecturer at Indonesia’s National University and a Ph.D. student in Korean Education and Linguistics at Kyung Hee University, the spread of Korean content in Indonesia is accompanied by the development of communication technology. Therefore, he predicted that the popularity would not soon dissipate, but rather penetrate deeper.
As such, it can be expected that the Korean Wave will have even greater influence in the future according to many experts.
Therefore, what is the kind of thing that adds the popularity? The first one is K-pop, which is the biggest issue in the world. In Indonesia, cover videos, where people who love K-pop imitate dance songs of their favorite K-pop singer, has become an issue worldwide. The second one is Hangul. As the Korean Wave became stronger, Indonesian fans began studying Korean to understand their favorite Korean celebrities and to understand the lyrics of the songs. The third one is K-beauty. Completing its own field, K-beauty emphasizes natural makeup rather than heavy makeup, which is a trend not only in Indonesia but also in China and Japan. Especially as K-pop begins to gain more and more attention, Indonesian K-pop fans want to resemble their favorite K-pop female singers, so Korean cosmetic brands, such as Skin Food and Etude House, can be easily found in large shopping malls in Indonesia. In addition, there are many other manifestations of the Korean Wave in Indonesia, including K-food.
The Korean Wave is spreading to such diverse fields and this begs the question of what would be the benefit to our country. It is that Korean export volume is growing due to the influence of the Korean Wave and an increase in income through various channels. According to a survey conducted by the Korea International Cultural Exchange Promotion Agency, 84% of the respondents said they had purchased Korean products at restaurants within the last year. These figures increased further in 2019 compared to 2018, and this increase can be attributed to the Korean Wave. Major reasons for purchasing Korean products are excellence, effectiveness, quality, a variety of products, use of eco-friendly ingredients and a high reputation among consumers. Reflecting these consumers’ preferences, local companies in Indonesia are actively utilizing Korean Wave content. Based on the number of i-price visitors in the third quarter of 2020, Shopee(1st) and Tokopedia(2nd), Indonesia’s largest e-commerce companies, use BLACKPINK(20.8%, 2019) and BTS(23.6%, 2019), the most popular Korean stars in Indonesia, as advertising models. In addition, various companies are using Korean singers and actors as advertising models. Moreover, in an interview with KOTRA Jakarta Trade Center, J manager of the consulting company Markplus, said that Korean Wave has the power to raise the brand image of consumer products, especially food and cosmetics. He said consumers only knew about products focused on large companies of Korea in the past, but the awareness of products promoted by Korean dramas and singers has increased recently. Therefore, various Korean corporate products are being sold locally. The popularity of K-beauty mentioned above can also be seen by actual statistics. From 2015 to 2019, imports of Korean cosmetics(including mask packs) increased by an average of 76% annually, ranking second overall. Especially, as of September 2020, Korean products were the only top 5 imported country products, including China and the United States, to increase imports by 18%, even with total cosmetics imports falling 29% year-on-year due to COVID-19.
The Korean Wave, which is spreading in Indonesia and the world, has not decreased, but rather appear in various fields at this moment. As the situation changes due to COVID-19 and information-communication technology develop, people’s consumption of cultural content is increasing, and the curiosity about Korea created through it has led to the creation of a traditional village in Indonesia. The CBT reporters look forward to various records and changes that will emerge in the influence of the Korean Wave that will grow further in the future.