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Title Hallyu Hits Sunday Market in Malaysia
No Inquiry 254 Date 2018.07.09

In George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Malaysian state of Penang, a cultural event called Occupy Beach Street Project is held every Sunday. Having started in 2013, it is a feast of diverse Malaysian food, events, and performances that people of all generations can enjoy. Of the 13 states that make up Malaysia, Penang is the second smallest in size and the eighth most populous. The region is less affected by Hallyu compared to cities like Kuala Lumpur, but a small event held here showed how much Hallyu has spread.

 

Joh-eun Halu drinks stall

Joh-eun Halu drinks sold at Occupy Beach Street Project (left)

A Juicy outlet in Kuala Lumpur (right)

 

Joh-eun Halu, a brand of mixed fruit juices sold by young Malaysians, not only tastes good, but also looks good. With its taste and healthfulness, the brand targets all generations. About why they named it in Korean, Kevin Tan, who sells the juices, said, “The image of Koreans in Malaysia is healthy people who take good care of themselves. Because Korea has a bright and positive image here, we gave the brand a Korean name—Joh-eun Halu.” Thanks to the popularity of Korean dramas and K-pop in Malaysia, Koreans are known as healthy and beautiful people here. According to research by Nor Hashimah Jalaluddin and Zaharani Ahmad, as Korean celebrities became role models for teenagers in Malaysia, the demand for fashion and beauty products increased. The popularity of Korean celebrities is now having an impact on healthy food products as well. Juicy, a Korean brand of drinks, is now expanding its presence in Malaysia with a motto of selling “fresh, tasty, affordable” fruit juice.

 

Clothes shop Haru

A clothes shop named Haru at Occupy Beach Street Project (left)

A Korean concept store for fashion items at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur (right)

 

A clothes shop targeting young customers had a sign written in both Korean and Japanese—“Haru.” As K-pop has had a major impact on fashion, one can easily find stores selling their fashion items using the image of Korea. Larry, who sells clothes at Haru said, “We’re using Korean and Japanese to promote our shop since Korean and Japanese clothes are known for their high quality.”

 

K-pop cover dance performance

K-Pop cover dance performance

 

The Occupy Beach Street Project is organized by the state of Penang for its residents and tourists and has nothing to do with Hallyu, but Malaysian students performed K-pop cover dances during the festival. Seeing a small event bringing culture together with various Hallyu products and content, I learned that Hallyu can become a medium through which people can connect and share. As the image of Korea improved, Hallyu is often used in marketing for businesses. In the past, because Korea was lesser known compared to Japan, Hyundai Motor and Samsung Electronics used Japanese images to promote themselves. But now, Hallyu is playing a positive role in various corporate marketing strategies.

 

Image source: Hong Sung-ah

References: Ahmad, Z., & Jalaluddin, N. H. (2011). Hallyu in Malaysia: A socio-cultural study. Malaysian Journal Communication, 27(2), 203219.

 

Hong Sung-ah (Correspondent of KOFICE in Malaysia)