The “Miracle” Narrative of the Korean Cultural Industries: Perspectives from the Middle East​

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Abba Eban Hall, May 7-9 2013​
International Conference​

In the Middle East, as in other parts of the world, the Korean cultural industries have proved extremely efficient in introducing new images of Korea to new audiences. Known as the “Korean Wave”, TV dramas, Korean pop music, and Korean cinema has been successful not only commercially, but has also left viewers with an image of Korea as a home of a vibrant culture and artistic innovation. This impression has stimulated interest in Korea and its culture, resulting in a rise in tourism and in the establishment of new Korean studies programs in institutions of higher education. Korea has never been so popular and familiar in the Middle East as it is today.

The purpose of this conference is to examine the way Korean popular culture is being appropriated and received in the Middle East, and to examine the social and academic developments it inspires. The conference presentations will attempt to develop an integrative framework to analyze the dynamic relations between cultural industry, cultural consumption, and academic studies through a focus on the experience of the Korean Wave in the Middle East.

In a broader sense, looking at the Middle East allows us to examine how Korean culture is being received outside the geographically and culturally-proximate markets of Asia and outside the major economic markets of North America and Europe. The success of the Korean cultural industries in a geographically distant and culturally remote Middle East may exemplify the resilience and ability of cultural industries to go beyond national and regional boundaries, and reach out to audiences of various nationalities and ethnicities.

The conference will focus on four major issues: (a) Harbingers, industries, agents, and fans involved in bringing the “Korean Wave” to the Middle East (b) Acceptance and integration of the Korean Wave within the local and other imported (American) popular cultures (c) Relations between Korean cultural presence and Korean academic studies (d) Perspectives, images, and stereotypes of Korea in the Middle East.

Collaborating organizations: Academy of Korean Studies (AKS), World Association of Hallyu Studies (WAHS), The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, The Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies, Department of East Asian Studies, Faculty of Humanities, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Conference Program

7 May 2013, Tuesday

16:30-18:00 Keynote Speech

Chair: Lihi Yariv-Laor, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Greetings: Ambassador of Korea in Israel, H.E. Mr. Kim Il-Soo

Nancy Abelmann, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Fragile Cosmopolitanism: Hallyu in Korean Studies”

8 May 2013, Wednesday

09:30-10:00 Gathering and Registration

10:00-10:30 Opening Session

Menahem Blondheim, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Academic Director of the Truman Institute

Gil-Sung Park, Korea University, President of the World Association for Hallyu Studies (WAHS)

Nissim Otmazgin, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

10:30-12:00 Panel I: Korea’s Relations and Images in the Middle East

Chair: Yaakov Cohen, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Alon Levkowitz, Bar-Ilan University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

“Korea’s Middle East Policy: Tilting between Soft and Hard Power”

Guy Podoler, University of Haifa,

“Between Sanjo and ‘Cha Boom’: Korean Culture in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s”

Nissim Otmazgin, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

“Hallyu and the Re-making of Korea’s Image in the Middle East”

12:00-13:00 Lunch Break

13:30-15:00 Panel II: The Globalization of Hallyu: Industry and Policy

Chair: Galia Press-Barnathan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Ingyu Oh and Gil-Sung Park, Korea University,

“The Globalization of K-pop Industry”

Wonho Jang, University of Seoul,

“Cultural Hybrid and Hallyu”

Jooyeon Rhee, Wittenberg University,

“Locating Home: Assessing Multiculturalism in South Korea Through Hallyu”

15:00-15:30 Break

15:30-17:30 Panel III: Hallyu in the Middle East

Chair: Michal Daliot-Bul, University of Haifa

Sueen Noh, Wheaton College,

“Crossing the 21st Century Silk Road via Social Media: A Case Study of Korean Popular Culture Fans in the Middle East”

Shima Hemati, Frankfurt University,

“Against All Odds: South Korea’s Nation Branding Campaign in Iran”

Limor Shifman and Sulafa Zidani, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

“Middle Eastern Style: Re-makes of Gangnam Style as Identity Practice”


18:00 – Reception (for conference participants)

9 May 2013, Thursday

09:00-11:00 Panel IV: Hallyu in Israel

Chair: Helena Grinshpun, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dafna Zur, Stanford University,

“Negotiating Culture: Hebrew Subtitles in Korean Dramas”

Liora Sarfati, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University,

“The Benefits and Dangers of Using Popular Media to Teach Academic Classes on Culture and History of Korea”

Irina Lyan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

“From Holy Land to ‘Hallyu Land’ and Back: The Journey Following the Korean Wave in Israel”

11:30-13:00 Panel V: Korean Cinema in the Middle East and Beyond

Chair: Ronie Parciack, Tel Aviv University

Melis Behlil, Kadir Has University,

“Mirroring Miracles? A Comparative Analysis of Contemporary South Korean and Turkish Media Industries”

Pablo Utin, Tel Aviv University,

“The Humanistic Turn: A Comparison between Israel’s and South Korea’s Cinemas of Conflict”

Christine Yoo, Filmmaker,

“Hollywood and Hallyuwood: A Case Study of Film Production Systems” (TBC)

13:00-14:00 Lunch Break

14:30-16:00 Concluding Panel

Eyal Ben-Ari, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Nancy Abelmann, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

19:00 – Dinner downtown (for conference participants)

10 May 2013: Post-conference tour to the Dead Sea/Jerusalem Old City (for conference participants)

The “Miracle” Narrative of the Korean Cultural Industries:                       Perspectives from the Middle East​