K-pop girl band TWICE, which has three Japanese members, stars in a Japanese commercial in this captured image./ Screen capture from YouTube

Debate over efficacy of soft power remains dividedBy Kim Ji-soo

President Moon Jae-in, as a diplomatic leader, focuses on affirming that Korea sits in the driver’s seat in its ties with the United States, Japan and North Korea. One example of his solid stance is his remarks on March 1 Independence Movement Day.

“To resolve the comfort women issue, the Japanese government, the perpetrator, should not say the matter is closed,?President Moon said in his speech at Seodaemun Prison, which the Japanese had used to detain independence activists during the 1910-45 colonial era. The Moon administration says the 2015 agreement reached with the President Park Geun-hye administration on Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese wartime military government is flawed, and what his country and its victims want from Japan is a sincere apology. Top Japanese officials have said the agreement is final and irreversible.

Yet in the world of pop culture, the ties between the two countries are quite the opposite. Girl band TWICE, for instance, is red hot in Japan. The band appeared on a year-end television music show, and in February the group starred in a Softbank commercial for budget cellphones. Meanwhile, top boy band BTS, though less physically visible in Japan, sold 500,000 albums (double platinum) in the neighboring country last year.

These successes indicate the Japanese market is ready to rave about K-pop again. K-pop’s initial popularity in Japan was led by BoA, TVXQ, Girls’ Generation and Kara. But in 2012, then-President Lee Myung-bak visited Dokdo Island and diplomatic ties between Korea and Japan froze, which many have said affected the cultural arena.

But slowly, as bands such as TWICE, which has three Japanese members, are appealing to Japanese music fans, and the global rave for the boy band BTS naturally lands in Japan, the K-pop industry is once again more willing to make big leaps into the music market there.

Last February, rookie K-pop boy band Seventeen said it will release its Japanese debut album May 30. Its agency, Pledis Entertainment, said the 13-member band disclosed the debut date at concerts on Feb. 21 and 22 in Yokohama, Japan. The Yokohama concerts were the first leg of Seventeen’s 2018 Japanese Arena Tour, which later included concerts in Osaka and Nagoya.

Similarly, girl band GFriend said it will make its Japanese debut in May. For the past two years, the six-member band has gained significant popularity for such hit songs as “Rough,” “Me Gustas Tu” and “Glass Bead.” Aside from their own concerts, Seventeen and GFriend will take part in KCON Japan April 13-15 in Chiba, east Tokyo, joining other K-pop stars such as Wanna One, TWICE, Wooyoung of 2PM, Gugudan, Pentagon, Sunmi, Monsta X, SF9, Samuel, Stray Kids, Golden Child and Fromis 9.

Solo singers Junggigo, known for the 2014 top Korean hit “Some,” and Samuel, who took part in the second season of Mnet’s “Produce 101,” also released albums in Japan last month.

Could this heightened surge in Korea’s soft power — in music in particular — play a role in untangling thorny, rough knots in the political arena between the two neighboring countries?

“I think it’s better to understand that the Japanese music market gives merit to Korean musicians. The criteria for gauging how active an artist is in the Japanese market should be in the number of concerts. Korean musicians such as BigBang used to perform there frequently,” said Jang Min-gi, project researcher at Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA).

The Japanese market therefore remains open to Korean musicians, where their popularity can turn into long-lasting fandom. “Thus, the advancement of more Korean pop artists into the Japanese market makes sense,” Jang said.

“As to whether we can anticipate heightened activity in pop culture to affect political ties, it would be realistic to assume Korea’s national image may improve in the eyes of the public, but whether that image improvement will spill over into political issues may vary by issue.”

“For K-pop or hallyu (Korean wave) to really take off in earnest, the ties between Seoul and Tokyo will have to pick up as well,” said Lee Geun, a professor of the Graduate School of International Studies at Seoul National University. How could the two re-slide into warm-diplomatic ties? “If there is a possibility that a liberal government takes power in Japan while a conservative one does in Korea,” said Lee.

Fonte: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/common/vpage-pt.asp?categorycode=356&newsidx=245368

Os textos, informações e opiniões publicados neste espaço são de total responsabilidade do(a) autor(a). Logo, não correspondem, necessariamente, ao ponto de vista do Central da Pauta.

​Os textos, informações e opiniões publicados neste espaço são de total responsabilidade do(a) autor(a). Logo, não correspondem, necessariamente, ao ponto de vista do Central da Pauta.