Popular Culture As An Effective Source of Soft Power (?)

Power is the ability to influence the behavior of other, so that they would do what they would otherwise not do. Concerning to ‘soft power’, as what Joseph Nye describes “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion,” he sees strong relations with allies, economic assistance programs, and vital cultural exchanges as examples of soft power[1]. In addition, Joseph Nye also argued that “the effect of soft power is not down to the action of the expert. It depends on the perception of the audience”.[2]

We may agree that every state has its own culture, but the difference is some state has popular culture. And popular culture assumed can be utilized as an effective source of soft power. In what ways popular culture can be utilized as an effective source of power? In order to answer the question, I would provide two popular culture – the Hallyu and Western culture – and relate it to the theories and definition given above.

The Western culture, as the popular culture, has been become an effective source of soft power for the West particularly the US. Through its Hollywood movie and rock songs, they show their freedom and democracy life off to the world and implicitly, they are trying to change others preferences particularly the communist countries. The popular culture perceived to have melted the hearts of people in communist countries during the Cold War era. This phenomena in accordance with what Joseph Nye argue that “the effect of soft power is depends on the perception of the audience”. The audience welcomed the western culture and conscious or unconsciously, they adore and wanted the messages of the culture to be implemented in their life.

In the case of Western culture above, it shows that the popular culture has been become an affective source of soft power. It was succeed to make other regions to follow their values. It was succeed to shape most of the world corner view including Indonesia, that freedom and democracy is needed to be implemented. And the facts shows that most of the world countries implementing the freedom and democracy system.

That is how popular culture can be utilized as an effective source of soft power. But in the case of the Hallyu, it is quite different. If the case of western culture seems was influence the political or ideological side, but the Hallyu seems more concern on economic side. But it is still debatable whether Hallyu can be categorized as soft power or not.

Back to the basic thing, that power – soft power in particular, is used for achieving national interest including interest in economy. And the phenomena of Hallyu have benefits South Korea a lot. Why is it benefits South Korea a lot? Because Hallyu is so attractive and it is welcomed warmly by its audiences. The phenomena make peoples crazy of Korea.

This benefits the government because through the Hallyu, Korea promotes their product to the world, and off course, those people around the world who are crazy of Korea will buy Korean product. Not only that, the benefit also comes from their film and music industries as well as the foreign tourist who really loves Korea because of its Hallyu. This is how Hallyu become an effective source of soft power in terms of economic benefits. Hallyu makes the economic national interest of South Korea achieved easily.

Before it is become popular, perhaps there is no international people think about the Hallyu, their products customer is small, few international tourists come to their island. But since it became popular and the audiences were excited and welcomed the culture really warm, everything’s change. Most of world’s eyes now see the Hallyu, they adore every single thing about Korea. That is the evident that the Hallyu or the Korean Wave has changed the preferences of others. If before, they do not want to go to South Korea or do not want to buy Korean products, nowadays, they would buy it all.

South Korea’s music industry earned revenue of just US$120.5 million back in 2007, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a decrease from a year earlier as a previous Korean cultural wave declined from its 2005 peak. But as K-pop’s influence spread, profits increased. Revenue reached US$199.5 million last year, a 65.6 per cent increase on 2007.[3] This huge amount of profit is the evident on how Hallyu or Korean cultural wave can be an effective source of Soft Power particularly in achieving its economic interests.

This phenomena is also in accordance with what describes by Joseph Nye that “soft power is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion and the effect of soft power is depends on the perception of the audience”.

Thus, there is no doubt that popular culture can be utilized as an effective source of soft power in order to achieve the national interests much more easily. Popular culture can be categorized as soft power, not only once it is influence the other to adopt one ideology, but also in terms of economy, popular culture can influence other to give benefits to the one who owned the culture. ~The ability to influence the behavior of other, so that they would do what they would otherwise not do.~ [MSS]

 

[1] Usforeignpolicy.about.com.(year unknown). Soft Power In US Foreign Policy. [online]. Available:  http://usforeignpolicy.about.com/od/introtoforeignpolicy/a/Soft-Power-In-U-S-Foreign-Policy.htm. (July 15, 2014).

[2] Amy Nip and Christy Cho.(December 2012). How Koran Culture Stormed The World. [online]. Available: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1094145/how-korean-culture-stormed-world (July 15, 2014).

[3] Amy Nip and Christy Cho.(December 2012). How Koran Culture Stormed The World. [online]. Available: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1094145/how-korean-culture-stormed-world (July 15, 2014).

 

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