Korean Romantic Drama and me.


As growing up in Vietnam, one of the country under the effect of Korean Wave or Hallyu Stars, I have been watching a lot of Korean dramas. I still remembered the first time I watched Korean drama: The Winter Sonata in 2004. It first broadcasted in South Korea in 2002 and became regionally famous when crossing Asian borders to reach Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand. The drama is a romantic melodrama about a guy who has a painful childhood and suffers from amnesia with his first love after ten years of separation. The drama is the first milestone to introduce to Korean Wave to Asian and to the world. In this blog post, I want to specifically talk about Korean dramas, especially romance in Korean dramas.

After reading Ellis et al, I have learned that autoethnography is an analysis and research to provide a thick description or value of a particular culture. I have thought again and again about this and decided to step into the same topic ‘Korea Wave’ but deeper as ‘Korean drama’. In this post, I am going to point out my key findings while watching Korean dramas, along with research and interviews with my friends to strengthen my viewpoint or question the previous stereotype. Then I will finish with a case study of ‘The Descendants of the Sun’ to demonstrate about different points that I have made.

3 (SNSD Girls’ Generation)

Firstly, the first thing I realised about Korean dramas is that all actors and actresses are extremely beautiful. When mentioning about ‘beautiful’ here, I am talking about Asian beauty: white skin, slim, high nose, red heart- shaped lips, etc. In every single drama I have watched so far, there are absolutely no leading characters not possessing these physical appearance. As I grow up, I have known that Korea is the origin of cosmetic surgery. Moreover, Korea is known for having one of the most purchased cosmetics brands.


As you can see from the chart above, Korea’ ranks are really high comparing to other countries in guaranteed quality, choice and price points, promotional offers and attractive packaging. I still remembered my one trip in Seoul, South Korea. I got very surprised at the popularity of cosmetics products in Korea. Wherever I go, there are cosmetics shops everywhere. They offer variety of products along with attractive promotional offers and completely difficult to avoid buying. But while staying in Korea, I have learned a lot of how much value they put on for physical appearance. From my Korean friends, I learn it is unacceptable or sometimes offensive to look at someone when they don’t put make up on. In Wheeler’s weblog (2012), it is claimed that “anyone who has visited Korea or is familiar with its cultural practices will tell you that Korea is obsessed with image”.  For a girl who rarely put make up on like me, Korean cosmetics culture is like a different but attractive candy. Growing up in a family who never make up, I think make- up is like putting on a mask which covers all of the marks on your face and make you no longer a natural beauty. But then, one of the most interesting things about Korean make- up culture is that men have their own make- up brands for themselves. I believe this is quite novel for the global community. It is common knowledge for me to see guy using perfume but while staying in Korea, it was quite a shocking fact for me when I realise that there is a whole section for male make- up products such as washing cream, moisturizers, essences and toners.

5 (Korean guy before and after putting make- up on)

In conclusion, make- up is a part of Korean culture. It can be something new or even weird to some countries but it is a normal part of the culture.

Secondly, while interviewing Jessie David, my DIGC330 teammate and classmate, we both share the same view about Korean drama’s story: couples in dramas always face with extreme bad situation to make them realise that how important they are for each other. I have bear the idea that Korean drama always ends by one of the leading character having cancer or terminally ill. For example, in the drama ‘Winter Sonata’ at the end of the drama the leading male character has a tumour in the brain which makes him either die during operation or lose his eyesight and die after a few months. Moreover, there are a range of Korean dramas with an extreme sad ending such as the glass slipper, autumn in my heart, sorry I love you. Moreover, it is also very typical for me to see Korean couples in dramas have a happy ending after fighting against ‘the whole world’. It is very highlighted or repeatedly for Korean drama couples to face with the objection of their parents, the emergence of the third person in the relationship, the misunderstanding due to ‘too much care and love’ for each other. For instance, in the drama ‘Boys over flower’ in 2009, the couple Jan Di, a very poor girl and Jun Pyo, the chaebol of a rich family, have faced a strong objection from Jun Pyo’s mother, who believes her son deserve a more beautiful, smarter and richer lady. The drama reaches its peak in viewers rating as the beauty of the main casts but also because of their love story. To complete her goals, Jun Pyo’s mother doesn’t mind doing anything. She firstly pays Jan Di an enormous amount of money, then buys her house, makes her whole family not have a place to live, hires people to destroy her small street vendor, and multiple other things. However, Jun Pyo and Jan Di have hold hands so strongly until the end and proved to Jun Pyo’s mother that position and money don’t have anything to do with their love. The drama is a happy ending but as an audience, I have to say that it is so impossible to have such a tragedy in life and can find someone to overcome with.



Here is the link for some top Korean meanest mom in drama.

So, as you can see, the beautiful and concrete love story in Korean drama normally faces with extreme and severe conditions which we rarely have in our life.

Finally, before coming to my case study ‘The Descendants of the Sun’, I have always wondered if there is actually a love story like Korean Drama in real life. From my own point of view, the love story in K- dramas is too beautiful, too artistic that is so impossible to become the truth in real life. Finding that someone who is willing to hold your hands under any circumstances is extremely difficult, not mentioning that he needs to be super handsome, super gentle and always does everything that ladies dream of. I have interviewed my Vietnamese and international friends. They all share the same answer with me although some of them believe that it is flexible and depends a lot on the person. So, what about you guys? Please leave some comments or your thoughts below my post.

Last but not least, I am going to look at the drama ‘The Descendants of the Sun’ to highlight some of my own viewpoints. The drama is made in 2106 and became a big hit in South Korea where it reached 38.8% of audience share and gained a huge popularity across Asia. I have remembered that when the drama first air, all of my Vietnamese/ Asian friends talk about it all day. They complement handsome Yoo Si- jin (Song Joong Ki), beautiful Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye- kyo), manly Seo Dae- young (Jin Goo) and attractive but not feminist Yoon Myung- ju. There are two couples in this drama Yoo Si-jin with Kang Mo-yeon and Seo Dae- young with Yoon Myung- ju. Their love stories are a huge success across whole South Korea and Asia, brings up the name of the actors and actresses once again receive the love of thousands new fans internationally. The drama received in total of 6 awards by Baeksang, and Daesang awards.


The drama is not just a simple love story between a guy and a lady but a love story between two people sharing their love to their country, to kids and the elder. It is not just a romantic story with a lot of kissing scenes but a love story that makes my heart flutter because of action scene and the underground battle between North and South Korea. It creates once again a popular Korean wave in Asia and the main casts of the drama have become so much more famous than ever. Wherever they go, they get most of concentration about themselves. With a single search on ‘Descendants of the Sun Fan’, I received 6,370,000 results in 0.65 seconds. If you are a fan of the drama, you can use this website to check official fan page: Song Joong- ki and Song Hye- ko after the success of the drama become one of the most powerful K- biz couple and their fans all around the world have hoped that their idols will be a real couple. In early this year, the couple announced that they were dating and going to get married on 31 October 2017. Their information has been updated every single day since then. The official fan page such as Song Jong- ki Asian fanbase updated regularly about their wedding information. Just with a search on twitter ‘the Descendants of the Sun’ there were a lot of wishes and congratulations from fan locally and globally sending to Song- Song couple.

8 (Song- Song couple on their wedding day 31 October 2017)

The drama ‘Descendants of the Sun’ is a typical but new Korean drama: love stories under extreme severe conditions with beautiful girls and handsome men.

In conclusion, Korean dramas have given me a very good angle to learn about Korean culture. As a girl who growing up in Vietnam, a South East Asian country, the Korean Wave, especially Korean dramas has spread and brought up Korean cultures to introduce with Asia and international community.

Here are a few epiphanies that I have found while watching romantic Korean dramas which is pretty interesting as well:

  • The respect towards the elder: in all types of Korean dramas, it is essential and very important to bow down while meeting the older. Unlike English, Korean people use honorifics while talking with the elder and people with higher position to show their respect towards the people. Here is a video giving examples of the situation to use honorifics as well:
  • Kissing scenes in dramas are too impossible to be real. I have found a very good youtube video to express my meaning:
  • It is very funny while I watch some Korean dramas which at the start, the guy is very shy and doesn’t know how to confess his love. But at the end of the drama, the leading male character because of his love for the female character, becomes a very professional and romantic love confessor. While comparing to real life, I found out that guys with the same background like the characters in the dramas would probably do something silly. In Korean dramas, even how bad they are at talking with a girl, they are professional and romantic when it comes to express love.


  1. Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., & Bochner, A.P. 2011, Autoethnography: An Overview, Qualitative Social Research,


  1. Wheeler, C. J 2012, The Korean Wave: Multiculturalism, Foreigners and Cultural Backwash, The Korean Movie & Drama Database, weblog 2 June, viewed on 1 November, <—43367.html#!prettyPhoto>




Sailor Moon: Art Styles and Epiphanies


After reading Ellis et al, my understanding of autoethnography is that it’s a process. A process of methodologies that require personal experience. Simplistically put, you identify a part in a culture you would like to further understand or analyse, for example my group’s autoethnography project was on Japanese dating sims. We identified this billion dollar industry but were unfamiliar with the games, how it became popular, why it became popular and how it has influenced the Western cultures (if so).

After identifying the area of focus and researching everything you can about the topic, the next progression stage is immersing yourself in the experience. Whether it’s playing games, attending events, making something – whatever it be, immerse yourself in that cultural experience and then document it. This is one of the most critical and most stressed points in autoethnography. In the Autoethnography journal, Ellis et al clearly states, “‘auto’ is from personal experience, ‘ethno’ is to understand cultural experience and ‘graphy’ is the approach to research and writing that describes and analyses (Ellis, 2004; Holman Jones, 2005). Obviously alluding to the final progression stage, describing and analysing your experience and findings.

I applied this autoethnography method through my individual research of Sailor Moon. I so far have made two videos available on YouTube where I give my first account and experience, and secondly, where I analyse the account through my own cultural framework and how it structured my investigation.

As I have been going through the process of autoethnography I have had my own epiphanies of realisation. When I say epiphanies, I’m not relating to Ellis et al’s definition, I will get to that in just a moment. I’m talking about the epiphanies I had through the process itself and through my gradual understanding of autoethnography. As you will see through my videos and blog posts, I experience stages of interpreting autoethnography as I carry out my research and even correct myself for the misunderstanding a couple of times.

The epiphany distinction I had to make is different as Ellis et al states in their journal, “…epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity”. This distinction is clear, however, it is not to say I did not have epiphanies as I became a part of the Japanese culture by watching Sailor Moon and researching anime.

As mentioned, in my second video I analysed my initial account and how it structured my investigation. In the attached written piece, I confess as I critique myself, “I was somewhat unclear as to the direction of my investigation. I couldn’t quite articulate the differences I was seeing between the two shows and I put it all down to the lack of experience I have in watching anime”, therefore I came to the conclusion that I need to narrow the focus of my investigation.

As I watched and compared Sailor Moon (1992) and Sailor Moon Crystal (2014) I had an epiphany, I noticed that both versions are similar with their use of expressions and tropes. Although I also point out that Sailor Moon had a stronger emphasis on her expressions than that of Sailor Moon Crystal, which led to my assumption, that due to the change in art style (graphics) and minimised expressions, Sailor Moon Crystal has changed for a more western audience. As I later find out, this isn’t true. The change in style is actually due to Japan’s economic decline and using computers in an effort to save money during the 1970’s (Clements, 2013).

This is where I focus my investigation once more. Anime in general is very broad with many avenues to explore which often intertwined in research, so I needed to narrow it once more to clarify where I was heading with the investigation, and its clear focus. With this is mind, as well as still using Sailor Moon as a basis, I narrowed my research to the simple yet obvious question I found in my video, ‘how and why has the art style changed between Sailor Moon (1992) and Sailor Moon Crystal (2014)’.

To start off, the obvious visual answer to the difference between the two styles is stated in a blog post by Crunchyroll, a global video service for Japanese anime and Asian content. Here they describe the differences between the 90’s anime art style and the 00’s. The 90’s art style consisted of thick lines, a strong emphasis on pen pressure, a defined shadow and highlight, big hair with bundled strands, large highlight in the eye with black pupil, eyes are shaped as oblong circle, nose drawn as hiragana (Japanese writing system, in English it looks like an L) and a mouth placed in a high position. In contrast, the 00’s art style consisted of thin delicate lines, conservative use of shadows and highlights, less hair volume and without bundled strands, small highlights in eyes, pupils aren’t filled, circular shaped eyes, nose is expressed as a dot, and mouth is placed low on the face.

However, this is just an overall perception. In comparison between Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal, the main features that changed were her eyes (they’re now bigger and more round), her chin is pointed as is her nose, the colour of her eyes have black pupils and also have highlights and shadows, giving her eyes a 3D look (Crunchyroll, 2013).

Mentioning 3D, it’s also obvious that Sailor Moon Crystal has been made with 3D computer graphics. Until the mid 1990’s animators continued to work with pencils, the lower levels of inbetweening (which is a frame between two images giving the illusion of motion), and colouring to capitalise the labour-saving functions of computers (Clements, 2013). Jonathan Clements states in his book Anime: A History, “the close of the twentieth century saw several productions jostling for the chance to claim the cultural capital of being the ‘first; fully digital anime” (Clements, 2013). This clearly showing that the main reason for style change between both versions of Sailor Moon is due to the advancement of technology and the eager adaptation of computers in Japan. The introduction of computers made it easier and more efficient for animators to create and edit their work, however Japan has had a love-hate relationship with 3D graphics with an apparent desire to cling to 2D animation, or to 3D animation that looks like 2D (Clements, 2013). There’s nothing in my research that says that this -in anyway, was included in the Sailor Moon series, so purely off my own observation, I don’t believe that Sailor Moon was affected by this love-hate relationship. If anything, I think the graphics in Sailor Moon Crystal are used in praise.

Overall, the answer to ‘why’ Sailor Moon has changed art styles is simply because of the adoption of computers in Japan. So, my assumption that it was because of audience change isn’t correct. However, western cultures are becoming more influenced by anime productions and the industry. As for the ‘how’ Sailor Moon changed art styles, it’s mostly visual changes including the change between pencil drawing production to rendered 3D graphics. Unfortunately, there isn’t much on explaining the artistic differences for Sailor Moon, especially in terms of film direction of the show. This would most likely require further research and investigation by contacting the production company Madman.

Other epiphanies I had throughout my research that I found interesting but weren’t specific to my investigation of art style change, were:

  • The difference between ‘anime’ and ‘cartoon’. Anime in Japan is shortened form of ‘animation’ where as to the western audience, because of the distinct stylistic difference, anime refers to an animation made in Japan.
  • Shape-shifting into an animal or demon comes from Japanese fairy tales, which actually derived from Franz Kafka, a novelist and short story author born in Prague during 1883, and who often had works based on transformation and its effects (MacWilliams, 2014).
  • This can relate to Sailor Moon who, through her series, relinquishes shape-shifting demons
  • In Sailor Moon Crystal, Usagi (aka Sailor Moon) is constantly seen playing a Sailor V game at the arcade, which could be a nod to the evolution of the Japanese gaming culture and its capital in animation such as Street Fighter II: V (Clements, 2013)
  • Anime isn’t just for children, it can also for a more adult audience, making animation films with in depth character and plot development, as well as realistic character designs. For example, Ghost in the Shell, and Perfect Blue.
  • There’s a large relationship of influence and history between Hollywood and the anime/manga industry
  • Character designs represents their personality

References: The Evolution of Anime Character Designs, AnimeEverday When anime went digital, AnimeEverday The Stylistic Evolution of Anime, AnimeEverday Why Does Modern Anime Suck? AnimeEverday Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, M.W. MacWilliams, 2014 Anime: A History, J. Clements, 2013 Manga and Anime Go to Hollywood, N. Davis Sailor Moon, Wizard and the Bruiser

Autoethnographic Photography

After some deliberation on my previous blog posts, This Cambodian Life, and Ellis, Epiphanies and Photography, I decided to complete a personal autoenthographic photo series.

As a result of the Pol Pot regime, where all photographs were destroyed, modern Cambodian photographers have had to re-establish collections of photographs. Here, photographs of day to day life has immense value.

Inspired by Cambodian photographers, specifically, Vandy Rattana, Neak Sophal, Vuth Luyno and Pete Pinh (their works can be viewed here and here) – I photographed my final day of classes at uni.

At first, I thought the task would be simple – it was not. Photographing my life, with the sole purpose being to capture the moment, instead of focusing on making it look aesthetically appealing, required a shift in perspective; I was not looking for a good angle, but to snap it how I see it. The purpose of this task is to collect memories of my every day life. However, when I now look back on the pictures, I do see the beauty in every day actions, especially my morning beach yoga views and mediation incense burnings.

The photo series below consist of 57 individual images. It is not necessarily each individual picture, but the collective impression portrayed when scrolling through that captures the sounds and sights of my day.

“You can hear something a thousand times and not know it; yet if you see it with your eyes just once, you know.” — Khmer proverb.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at:























































A Gaijin’s Guide to Instant Noodles

i am conor oleary

When I was speaking about this the response from my friend Minh was a disappointed  “White man advises fellow white men on entry level supermarket snacks.”

So here it is.

Throughout my life there have been a few experiences where I’ve just thought, “Damn, I’m very white”.  Now that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, there are some situations where you can feel a little out of place.  Preparing for this digital artefact was one of those times.

It was after work on a Monday night, the city was bustling; suits on their way home, others doing their shopping.  I was making my way downtown, walking fast, faces passed en route to Citi Super, the Asian grocers at Town Hall.  I go there often, so it’s not an unfamiliar place but that doesn’t stop it from being somewhat intimidating.  I didn’t grow up with much of the…

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The Great Challenge – my autoethnography view


As a person who has special interest about Chinese culture and society and is learning Mandarin at the moment, Chinese TV shows are very good at getting my attention. After discussing, my classmate – Jessie Davis, and I decided to choose a completely new Chinese reality show to watch. We have searched and found “The Great Challenge”. According to Top 10 popular China TV shows in the first half of 2016 (Zhang 2016), “The Great Challenge” is the most famous Chinese reality show. Jessie and I have watched the first episode of the show and made a podcast to talk about our impressions. In this blog post, I am going to talk about subtitle in the show, ‘masculinity perspective’, harmony value and hard- working culture that I found out through the show and questioned my knowledge about Chinese society and culture.

First of all, as a Mandarin learner, I find it very interesting as the show is in Mandarin and has Mandarin subtitle. I have thought about the question then decided to use google translate. Through the website, I realise an essential point which explains my question. China is a very big country with various dialects but the common in language is that they share the same writing character. According to google translate, there are only traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese which make so much sense why the show has Mandarin subtitle. To confirm my ideas, I have done a few research online. My idea is supported by David Pan, former USAF officer (quora 2016). In his comment, he claimed that as the written language is the same regardless of Mandarin or Cantonese, subtitles allow all Chinese speaking people around the world can read and understand what they cannot understand through speaking.


Sinaweibo: the Great Challenge

Secondly, the show had 7 members in the past and now 6 members but they are all men. It made me think about the question why the producer only chose men. Is that because women are considered to be weaker than men in nature? I have done a reading written by Shen and D’Ambrosio. In chapter 6 ‘Chinese Cultural Resources for Feminism’, they explained the Chinese perspective of yin and yang which yin is a symbol for man and yang is for women. In this context, they believe that women are weak in nature and became oriented toward social roles such as a duty as a wife rather than ‘big business’ (Shen & D’Ambrosio).

Moreover, very different from other reality show, this show does not invite any guests, just purely the game between members. Sometimes, they split the team in a group of two and individual game, sometimes it is a team game. But, one interesting point is that even when they participated in individual game, they do not have that ‘attack’ spirit. They still work in cooperation and peace. They only try to create laugh through ‘pinching’ each other. One of the reasons can be this is just a show and they do not need to be too competitive when joining. However, I find out that the real reason is their own culture value: harmony and this value is under effect of Confucianism. Confucianism is Chinese dominant belief. It values harmony, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, loyalty and filial piety (Zhang 2013). Harmony is Chinese most important core value. It has been proved through the history flows: the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in the 1950s, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s speech during the visit to United States, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s speech at Harvard University in 2003 (Zhang 2013). To highlight this value inside the Chinese community, in Cultural Barriers to the Success of Foreign Media Content: Western Media in China, India, and Japan (Rohn 2009, p.317-318), it emphasises Chinese core value: harmony by looking at the rating of the reality show ‘Survivor’ (which the contestants become very competitive), it was a huge failure as it goes against the Chinese peoples’ values and does not match with the audiences.

Fourthly, the name of the show “the Great challenge” make me think about something very different, distinctive, but once I started watching I realised how close it is to our daily life. It can be a daily job such as car washing and I thought that it was not difficult. But through the lens of an audience watching celebrities do the job, I become more aware of the requirements of these jobs and appreciate more their hard-working. From this perspective, I learn to appreciate the professional of different jobs as no job is easy and it all requires training and work experience along the time. Moreover, along the show, the members are sometimes talking with the camera, which I believe that create the connection between audiences and the hosts. It makes me feel like they are talking and sharing their own stories with me.

But, why do they make a show about these people? This question follows directly after the conclusion of sharing the stories behind stages of these jobs that we sometimes think easy to do. One of the reason as I have mentioned above is the hidden message to appreciate the profession of all jobs. Moreover, I believe it is a part of Chinese culture: hard- working. It can sound very weird for some of you but as pointed out in  Khlystov’s blog post, who has been living in Beijing for the past ten years, China values hard- working and their normal work hour for office work is from 8am to 6pm, 5 days a week but no more than 44 hours per week and for customer- service industry it can even extend to late night.


In conclusion, I have discussed about a few interesting points that I have found out through watching the show such as Mandarin study, media practice in order to point out Chinese core values shown in the show. Jessie will provide another view about the show relating to production and consumption and internet and communication.


  1. Khlystov, Y. 2016, China’s hard work culture – do you love it?, Laowaicareer, web blog post, viewed on 15 October 2017, <>
  2. Pan, D 2016, Why does most Chinese TV movies have subtitles, Quora, viewed 9 October 2017, <>
  3. Rohn, U 2009, ‘Cultural Barriers to the Success of Foreign Media Content: Western Media in China, India, and Japan’, Peter Lang, pp. 317-320
  4. Shen, L & D’Ambrosio, P, ‘Gender in Chinese Philosophy’, Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy, viewed 10 October 2017, <>
  5. Zhang, L.H 2013, ‘China’s Traditional Cultural Values and National Identity’, Carnegie- Tsinghua Center of Global Policy, viewed 13 October 2017, <>
  6. Zhang, X 2016, Top 10 popular China TV shows in the first half of 2016¸Chinadaily, viewed 9 October 2017, <>

The Korean Wave through ‘Hello, My Twenties’ | Digital Artefact

Contextual Essay

This project explores the Korean wave, Hallyu through access to South Korean television programs. This is how I gained a greater Understanding of South Korea and South Korean content in Western culture. This is a personal autoethnographic narrative and also a layered account to which South Korea is consumed and experiences and the opinions of academic sources and online threads are utilized to understand the culture (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011). Initially this artifact was going to be based on the television program alone. The original trajectory of the artifact was going to be selecting a program and analyzing it in terms of autoenthrographic experience and reflect on Epiphanes during the show. The program I selected after watching a few different shows from Korean culture was called ‘Hello, My Twenties’. But after watching the show, there were quite a few similarities between programs I would typically watch meaning this didn’t expanded my knowledge as much as I would have liked. I also felt that I didn’t know enough about Korean culture to give my response to the text as my results may not have been factual and the credibility of my work may have been biased (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011).

Upon further research of the show and South Korean programs as a whole, the word “Hallyu”, a word I was not familiar with before this project, kept appearing. Hallyu is a term that describes the sudden surge of popularity of Korean content which began in Asia and later spread to the western world (Hogarth 2013, p. 135). Hallyu is a notion that explores Korean Culture to be comparable to Nollywood or Hollywood (Hogarth 2013, p. 149). This is the surge of popular Korean products and exports such as ‘k-pop’, television programs and movies (Jang & Paik 2012, p. 196). Through gaining an interest in this topic of the rising popularity of Korea in the west, from viewing the television programs, I decided to give my auto ethnographic experience of ‘Hello, My Twenties!’ through an analysis of Hallyu.

Access to this content was the biggest concern and then I remembered that Netflix has an international section. This was an epiphany for me that struck the realisation that South Korean content is more accessible than I thought. This shows that globalization is very prominent, and the growing interconnectedness of the world gave me the opportunity to explore South Korea.

For me personally my first known experience with South Korean Culture was through PSY and his hit single Gangnam style and was also how I explored K-pop and discovered a completely new cultural approach to something I am so familiar with being music. This was also a cultural impact for many people in the West (Bacon 2016). I got this same feeling when watching Hello, My Twenties. Something felt so familiar, yet just a slight cultural alteration to the formula I am familiar with. Then I questioned when did Korean culture and Hallyu become so popular? And also what makes them popular? Hello my twenties portrays traditional elements of Korean culture which I discuss in the video which makes it popular for Asian viewers across the globe, and also curiosity from a Western audience. I did notice though that I can’t just listen as this is in another language, I have to be fully engaged and actively view the content to be able to understand the context to absorb the culture. Another thing about the program which I found interesting was the depiction of roles with male and female characters. This show in particular has a lead cast of five females which portray their identities to be strong and independent. Men on the other hand are depicted as caring and gentle, something the female viewers appeal to due to suffering of a male- dominated society.

The characters are complex and well created. It was also seen that TV dramas have the greatest influence for sustaining their audience due to the engagement with the characters (Huat 2010, p. 15). The emphasis of this narrative autoethnography approach, which mostly studies others, so I was studying the text while also analysing it in terms of others. I also had to analyse patterns and process. For the episodes of the programs I watched, I noticed that they mostly have female leads, the episodes are almost always over an hour long, and they start of friendly and positive and usually have a dark twist. But for ‘Hello, my Twenties!’ the formula of each episode followed the focus of one character, there is normally a predicament they face but it is resolved following the next episode.

So overall I really enjoyed the autoethnographic experience, the show was quite interesting and It gave me a pretty good insight into modern South Korean culture. The show was entertaining, it sparked epiphanies for me to which I realised Hallyu is prominent because of internet access, affordable means of access, content being available on Western Websites such as Netflix and YouTube and overall an interest people have in the culture. We did not have this accessibility many years ago. Analysing the text through the notion of Hallyu was me, understanding the popularity of the show and the context of the accessibility for South Korean pop culture.

There may have been limitations to my autoethnographic experience as I was using the narrative format, but I feel as though I researched enough scholarly resources to get an understanding of Hallyu and the popularity of Korean content to make my findings legitimate. The narrative formant looks at texts in the form of stories (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011) which is why I used a television program as this spans over many episodes showing a deep insight into a Korean Text. With this, it may also seem that I used elements of ‘layered accounts’ format (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011) for the project as I questioned what I was viewing with an abstract analysis. I took a television program and then questioned the phenomena of Hallyu. This was my personal insight, I was detailing beyond what I knew and once understood, giving my own personal and cultural assumptions a point of interaction between the cultures (Denshire, 2013, p. 2). This was a truthful experience to which I didn’t use my personal bias so I believe my results were valid. I was able to dictate this experience through blog posts and tweets to which gave an audience and understanding of my experience.



Bacon, C 2016 ‘Why Korean Dramas are Popular’, Reel Rundown, 19 April, viewed 4 September 2017 <>

Denshire, S 2013, ‘Autoethnography’, Sociopedia, vol. 62, no. p, pp. 1-12

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1, viewed 4 September 2017, <>

Gang, G & Paik, WK 2012, ‘Korean Wave as Tool for Korea’s New Cultural Diplomacy, Advances in applied sociology, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 196-202

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