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Title 2016 National Public Opinion Poll about Korean Wave
No 104 Inquiry 358 Date 2017.01.05

“Corruption scandal of the president’s friends and THAAD deployment endangers the Korean Wave”

According to KOFICE’s recent <2016 National Public Opinion Poll regarding Korean Wave>, the public’s “Korean Wave crisis theory” is rampant, showing the majority of the Korean people assuming that national & diplomatic social-political issues such as “Choi, Soon-silgate” and the deployment of THAAD will negatively affect policies regarding the Korean Wave and overall cultural development.

From December 12th to December 13th, 2016, the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange (KOFICE), along with public opinion research institution Realmeter, performed a nationwide emergency public opinion poll on 1,013 people from the ages of 15 - 59 on topics such as 'the influence of negative issues on the Korean Wave industry,' 'the future direction of policies regarding the Korean wave,' etc.

First of all, Korean people thought that private market sectors attributed to the Korean wave much more than the government, recognizing the media (34%) as the greatest contributor to the 20 years-long prosperity of the Korean Wave—a term describing the boom of Korean pop culture in Asia—followed by corporations (25%) and the government (7%). 


As for the contribution of the pop-culture related corporations that acted as the main contributors of the birth and spread of the Korean Wave, SM Entertainment (38%) started the boom of K-pop stars in Japan with diva singer BoA. It then expanded the wave with artists such as EXO, Girls Generation, Super Junior, and SHINee. SM Entertainment was voted as a landslide winner in the field of music, followed by YG (16.5%), and JYP (16.9%). In the video field, the contribution of CJ E&M (41%), whose business area spans TV series, entertainment programs, and film production and distribution, was remarkable. Next came the three terrestrial channels—SBS (9%), KBS (7%) and MBC (6%)—followed by Kim Jong Hak Productions (3%) and Lotte Entertainment (3%), which only gained meager recognition.

Korea's biggest benefits from the Korean Wave were thought to be the “Increase of awareness and favorability of Korea and Korean products (52%).” This was followed by “Economic profit due to Korean stars advancing worldwide and export of related products (31%)” and “Closer political & diplomatic ties with the beneficiary countries of the Korean Wave (8%)”.


In regard to the sectors benefiting from the Korean Wave, half of the respondents cited the entertainment industry such as K-pop (50%) and broadcasting (34%). Consumer goods and services industries such as cosmetics and fashion (35%) and tourism (30%) also benefited greatly from the Korean Wave boom. On the other hand, the game industry, which accounts for more than half of the domestic content exports and plays the role of a so-called “export prestige”, was only chosen by 6%. It was thus assumed by the majority of the respondents that the game industry only received insignificant amounts of direct benefit from the Korean wave.


Most of all, recent domestic & diplomatic issues such as the corruption scandal of the president’s friends and the deployment of THAAD were endangering industries and policies related to the Korean Wave. It’s interesting to note that the Korean people mostly see “Choi, Soon-silgate” (79%) as the main factor that is negatively affecting the Korean Wave, exceeding “the deployment of THAAD” (70%).


Despite worries that the industries related to Korean Wave will shrink and government policies supporting this boom will be scaled down, the Korean people mainly thought that “the government should actively implement policies promoting the Korean Wave and related industries, provided that transparency is ensured” (68%).


In terms of the future direction of the Korean government's policies, most support was for “cultural exchange and social responsibility activities” (32%) as a two-way exchange policy, returning the benefits gained from the Korean Wave to countries consuming Korean contents. This was followed by “strengthening competitiveness through building a creativity-friendly environment for domestic companies” (22%), “conducting research about overseas market and consumer trends” (18%), and “providing support for advancement to overseas market and legal consultation” (13%). 80% of the respondents answered that “the government as well as the private sector should participate in social responsibility activities more actively and voluntarily”, showing a high awareness for mutual growth with countries consuming the Korean Wave and recognition for Korean Wave’s beneficial cycle.


Recently, due to negative issues in the domestic & diplomatic fields, the Korean wave industry has been presumed to be in a crisis. As many Koreans argue, policies promoting the Korean Wave should be implemented even more actively and in a transparent manner so that it can restore its positive image. For this, a “good Korean wave” that donates revenue and benefits gained from the Korean wave to the nations that consume Korean cultural content & products should be the basis of any future policies that promote the Korean Wave.

※ The survey was conducted using the smartphone application method (SPA) from December 12 to 13. The sampling error is ± 3.1% at 95% confidence level. The total response rate is 38.5%. (1,013 responded out of 2,632 people who received the call.)