The Cultural Diplomacy of KCON

“Let’s Play! Let’s KCON!” CHECK OUT KCON 2017 in Los Angeles | INFO

KCON is the largest annual three-day festival for South Korean music and pop culture – often referred to as The Korean Wave or Hallyu – in America. Celebrating its 5th anniversary, 2016 KCON took place in New York and Los Angeles last summer, attracting over 75,000 attendees. This unique cultural event, which is organized by Korean entertainment media company, CJ E&M, has developed into a premiere vehicle for social impact and cultural diplomacy.

The popularity of KCON is the latest example of The Korean Wave, which refers to the surge in international visibility of Korean culture across the world. Korean entertainment like K-pop music, Korean movies, unique Korean food and beauty products are all gaining popularity in the United States.

KCON is a powerful promoter of The Korean Wave in America. In 2016, more than 75 panel discussions – from in-depth discussions of history, to how love and sexuality portrayed on Korean dramas has changed social norms of “family life,” to academic discussions on the rising influence of K-Pop on the LGBT community – plus K-Drama (TV) screenings, dance workshops, Korean merchandise and cosmetics booths, and the best Korean food vendors (hey, Kogi BBQ!) offered inducements to explore and learn for young and old alike. KCON-ers were diverse in race, gender, and age: there were father-daughter couples, women in their 40-50s, teenage boys, as well as well-dressed professionals.

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Among its other attractions, KCON enhances socio-cultural cooperation by providing communication platforms between Korean content producers and the eager US audience. Many American YouTube vloggers have embraced K-Pop content or Korean commercial products as the unique content for their videos.

Americans’ love for K-Pop and Korean culture is undoubtedly an important springboard to developing deeper and more positive US-Korea relations, exactly what cultural diplomacy is all about.


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