Tuesday, January 08, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, December 31 2007] Born in the Year of the Rat

In the Year of the Rat, Korean pop culture is led by those born in another, in 1972. Coincidence or cosmic determination? Readers may decide for themselves. Known as the “president of culture” in the 1990s, Seo Tai-ji releasef his 15th anniversary album in November in a limited edition of 15,000 copies that sold out in no time. He plans to make a comeback after four quiet years next year.


The reason stars in their late 30s carry such heavy weight in the entertainment industry is that they grew on the rich cultural foundations of the mid- and late 1990s, when pop culture saw an explosive growth and survived fierce competition. It was a time when various new media -- cable, satellite and the Internet emerged and domestic contents outnumbered foreign contents, so they had more opportunities to work and exposure when they began to be recognized as rising actors and actresses in their 20s. Many of them used this advantage wisely to secure their position as an entertainer, creator and even businesspeople when the pop culture market went through industrialization.

“In Korean society, there was a weakening of Puritanism and growing interest in pop culture from the mid 1990s,” says Prof. Hwang Yong-suk of Mass Communication Department at Konkuk University. “Stars born in 1972 are beneficiaries of those changes in the social atmosphere.”

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