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View Full Version : Cultural Change and Cultural Exchange in East Asia



Rachel Udin
04-04-2013, 04:56 AM
'cause it was started in another thread... and I thought it might be useful to some people. Plus it's less likely to be blind leading the blind around here.

Mostly, we've covered Japan, but I thought China, Taiwan, Korea(s) Mongolia and Russia (that part) could join in.

Topics brought up (so far):
- Xenophobia in Japan versus other countries.

- Media exchange of music, comic books and dramas between the various countries (or lack of having a media ^^;; Mongolia...)

- International attitudes towards countries.

- Racial attitudes towards ethnic groups. (Koreans, Ainu, Westerners, Blacks)/compared to the US/Canada (mainly.

- Cultural change such as Monster Parents of Japan, attitudes towards women and teachers in Japan.

- Loose and fast discussion of language and influence...

- Attribution of cultural ideas.

- Possible influence in the future and how fast the change might come or not come at all.

I probably forgot a few... but this probably will go into a bit of nerdiness... geekiness too.

Anyway, I know South Korea is desperate to catch up with the world, so in the last few years, the younger generation is showing a sharp increase in tolerance towards certain groups that were previously considered unaccepted. The government is also making such pushes, though because of the high rate of foreign adoptions, there is kinda a "scare" about foreign adopted people coming in.

Despite that, I'm really surprised at the last 3-4 years at the sharp acceptance of Japanese cultural ideas. (See Japanese Occupation.) There is also a strong gain in Korean pride as well, versus the shame, but the generation gap is fairly wide, especially politically as the country often moves faster than the people who are living in it can keep up. (Historically and anthropologically, you can see this in high divorce and suicide rates, also lots of single mothers.... see French)

South Korea also has its first publicly transgendered actress. She got no flack for it from her coworkers and several said she was always that way in their minds anyway.... In some ways South Korea in its media is kicking the US's butt. It's not perfect by a long shot, but it's moving forward faster than the generations are keeping up with it. Doesn't mean the laws will change soon though... (South Korean politics tends to be slow).

South Korean TV also has an English channel and one dedicated to American TV--you can even see it in rural parts of the country. (And when I mean rural... it makes Wyoming look posh)

Civil Rights-wise, If You Were Me movies (which are hard to watch) I think out strips some American movies on civil rights. (The one where the kid gets surgery on his tongue so he can speak English is hard to watch.) Upside, you get a sense of the diversity of South Korea as well.

My prediction is the whole industrialization thing is going to take a while to wort out--there is still backlash and South Korea is trying really hard to catch up. I'd like it if South Korea caught up to the idealization it puts forward in its dramas and variety shows--which is how it's going.

Also has their first female president. =P Did it faster than the US... (I mean in sheer amount of presidents)

China I hear mixed reports on, but the dramas tend to be more fairytalish. (With a few exceptions), and I don't see any politcal change coming from the dramas or changing the state. (Some of my Chinese friends expressed displeasure in this and the sad endings. =P I asked and by and large everyone said, "I don't know any classic tales with happy endings." When I said about putting on a sad ending, I heard, "Please don't. I'm sick of sad endings." <-- joke, clearly.)

The thing is that I haven't seen anyone outside of Mainstream Chinese Han in any drama being portrayed except, maybe in historical dramas.

Taiwanese dramas are better anyway. (Mainland Chinese say that too. ^.~)

What surprised me, though is the level of cultural exchange in East Asia... which astonishes me. Subtitles in broad daylight of various movies and so on. Hawaii, CA, and maybe Washington State might get that, but for Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, I spotted subtitles on foreign media, and not all of it from the US either. Makes me wonder about the future of these countries...

Kim Fierce
04-05-2013, 12:19 AM
This definitely looks like could cover some interesting topics. At the moment I am scrolling through things while at work, but I'm at least interested in reading more here!

J.S.F.
04-05-2013, 02:37 AM
I'll leave the subject of dramas aside. I don't care for them in general...that's just me. I have seen a couple of Taiwanese dramas, a few of the Korean ones, and I found them disappointing. The Japanese dramas are more or less the same--so-so--but once in a while they'll come out with something clever. Densha no Otoko erred a bit on the ridiculous side at times, but it had very sharp characterizations and a funny script.

Politically, the new lady Prez is going to have to distance herself from her relatives. From what I read, there's also a tremendous amount of corruption going on there and cozy business ties between the chaebols and the various government members. Same deal over here.

Japan and South Korea and accepting Japanese cultural ideas? This is going to be a matter of opinion. Liking manga/anime was quite a big thing when I lived there. My students often asked me if I could get them this or that Japanese stars music tape (yeah, I'm old!) or picture or something. This is going back around seventeen years so I'm dating myself.

AFAIK, they still like certain Japanese ideas. Over here (Japan) some aspects of Korean culture are admired, mainly music and some of the arts. This is always cool.

Attitudes towards foreigners i.e. Cauvasians and blacks? When I lived there, some people viewed me with suspicion. Got followed by the managers/owners when I went into electronics shops--this happened a few times--guess they wanted to make sure I wouldn't steal anything.

Maybe attitudes have changed. If I walked with a Korean woman a lot of people--young and old--often pulled faces. Some did not like the fact my girlfriend (now wife) was Japanese and made it known. A lot didn't care, and most were supportive.

I'm curious to see how the LGBT community is treated over there. You mentioned one actress who is transgendered and no one really makes a big deal out of it. This is a good thing. The only one I ever saw was a very tall woman named 'Mickey' (or 'Miki') so maybe I'm thinking of the wrong person.

I do remember the Korean private English school sector being blacklisted by the American government due to its exploitative nature. Again, I'm going back sixteen-plus years so I hope things have changed for the better.

These are just my impressions and remembrances, the views of one. Sorry for the ramble, but your post got me thinking about change and internationalization and everything in between.

Rachel Udin
04-05-2013, 11:32 PM
I'll leave the subject of dramas aside. I don't care for them in general...that's just me. I have seen a couple of Taiwanese dramas, a few of the Korean ones, and I found them disappointing. The Japanese dramas are more or less the same--so-so--but once in a while they'll come out with something clever. Densha no Otoko erred a bit on the ridiculous side at times, but it had very sharp characterizations and a funny script.

Politically, the new lady Prez is going to have to distance herself from her relatives. From what I read, there's also a tremendous amount of corruption going on there and cozy business ties between the chaebols and the various government members. Same deal over here.

There is some of that, but it's mostly (from what I understand) the body is industrializing far too fast for the government to catch up with it. This of course leads to suicide rates, single motherhood, change in family values (from extended to nuclear), Monster Parent problems and the government being able to regulate its own corruption (See MBC strike last year.)

The Monster Parent problem, though, hasn't (yet) effected Korea. It might be because the standard of communication is different in Korea. It's far more "aggressive" in the US's eyes. The middle aged women can be blunt as anything and it will sting. (In stereotype...) Which means if someone yells, you don't understand their feelings. You most likely yell at them back. (Korean fights can look like all bark no bite.) The communication standard is different.




Japan and South Korea and accepting Japanese cultural ideas? This is going to be a matter of opinion. Liking manga/anime was quite a big thing when I lived there. My students often asked me if I could get them this or that Japanese stars music tape (yeah, I'm old!) or picture or something. This is going back around seventeen years so I'm dating myself. There was an effort in the 1990's to ban manga in favor of manhwa. (Late 1990's) and at least regulate the importation into Korea. This may be why your students were asking for it... there was an effort to crack down on Japanese cultural goods.



AFAIK, they still like certain Japanese ideas. Over here (Japan) some aspects of Korean culture are admired, mainly music and some of the arts. This is always cool.Yes, the cultural exchange is still pretty good. Koreans still have some Japanese influence on their food, for example the hot pepper came by way of the Portugese to Japan and then Japan to Korea, which still influences Kimchi and other dishes (though I should note that Japanese hot peppers "Shisho" and Korean peppers are vastly different and Korean peppers have been adapted to make Kimchi. Jalepinos are still used, despite that. Also spam--which I can't understand. My Korean friends made fun of it... it's fair game.)



Attitudes towards foreigners i.e. Cauvasians and blacks? When I lived there, some people viewed me with suspicion. Got followed by the managers/owners when I went into electronics shops--this happened a few times--guess they wanted to make sure I wouldn't steal anything.In Korea there is less Xenophobia than Japan. Most Koreans are still helpful. You can ask for directions and they will go out of the way. There also seems to be less of an "In or Out" attitude as well.

Despite that, the older generation still has (understandable) hurts towards Japan's occupation of Korea. The comfort Women issue, the trying to erase Korean culture, the denial of Korean cultural influence unless it's from a Japanese invasion, etc. There are efforts to move forward from that, though. And the younger generation doesn't feel the same way as the older generations towards the wars.



Maybe attitudes have changed. If I walked with a Korean woman a lot of people--young and old--often pulled faces. Some did not like the fact my girlfriend (now wife) was Japanese and made it known. A lot didn't care, and most were supportive.Korea has changed rapidly in the last 50 or so years. The money changes sometimes by the month--the money from 20 years ago doesn't even close to look the same. This was only a few years ago, but they didn't have a 50,000 won. After a few months after my last trip they issued it.

Korea is constantly moving faster than the head. It's so severe that there is a generation gap that's pretty hard for politicians and TV to overcome. The TV show "Hwasin" was designed to overcome it. War and industrialization does that.


I'm curious to see how the LGBT community is treated over there. You mentioned one actress who is transgendered and no one really makes a big deal out of it. This is a good thing. The only one I ever saw was a very tall woman named 'Mickey' (or 'Miki') so maybe I'm thinking of the wrong person.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Si-yeon

That's her page. She was originally in Sex is Zero, but went through her change for Sex is Zero 2. Instead of kicking her off the film for Sex is Zero 2, they wrote it in. Many actors and actresses wrote their support for her. (Saying they called her "Eonni" and "Nuna" anyway when she was physically male, which roughly means "Older Sister" but it's used for those you are close to who are older and female.)

There is still intolerance with the older generation, but the strides they are making lift my heart since it's a lot more rapid than the US. This is mainly tied with the media representations which have been leading the way for many of the civil rights movements in South Korea.

I still fault the US for making the default gay person all effeminate, rather than separating gender identification from sexuality. (See John Barrowman's article.)

There might be a set back with the new movie starring Cha Seung Won... but I'm keeping a close eye on it.



I do remember the Korean private English school sector being blacklisted by the American government due to its exploitative nature. Again, I'm going back sixteen-plus years so I hope things have changed for the better. This has changed and there are rights. After King and the Clown, the rights of homosexuality, etc has taken a big leap forward. (Huge) There are more protections in the work place. The places that need to be fixed are labeling homosexuality as a "mental abnormality" for army service (you're exempt if your gay), gay marriage (though we shouldn't judge), and some of the portrayal (Mostly the eternally lonely gay person, which is an upgrade because they've shown gay people who aren't overly effeminate.)

Over there there is also an openly gay person who is an actor and there have been several dramas put on television that directly deal with the issues.

Plus there was a drama where they slipped in a transvestite where they actually did a fair portrayal, which isn't something they do well on US TV. Not only did they not confuse the fact that sexuality and being a trasnvestite isn't the same thing, but they didn't mix transgender issues in either. (I was shocked.)

There was a pretty good portrayal of someone who was gay in the show, Answer Me 1997, which caused social change as people started to understand. The actor who portrayed the character at first objected, thinking it would hurt the actor, but he was determined to play the role. And they didn't make him overly feminine. He also was (indicated) to have a boyfriend. If they can step it up from there, I'll be extremely happy... because maybe there will be better gay rights.

They also have beat the pants off of the US in adopted people portrayals on some accounts. (though I still want to beat Thorn Birds to a pulp) Which means since the television dramas often leads to social change... I have high hopes.

The If You Were Me movies also has had an effect on the population's view of various social issues as well, and probably dates after you.

There were real efforts to bridge the gap.

Korea seems to treat civil rights as a matter of "catching up" with the world.



These are just my impressions and remembrances, the views of one. Sorry for the ramble, but your post got me thinking about change and internationalization and everything in between.That was the point. I'd love to see views about other countries too. Taiwan? (Dark and hopeless) North Korea... Hong Kong v. Mainland, Mongolia... and so on.

I still wish US's culture exchange was a bit more free and not riddled with racism on imported goods. (For example, the last few Japanese and Korean translated books leave me shaking my fist on portraying a singular story problems.)

judes
04-25-2013, 08:50 AM
I'm from Taiwan and I live in Canada. I go back every few years and these are some of the observations I've seen:

- Xenophobia in Japan versus other countries: I think Taiwan is very unique in that it used to be a Japanese colony and there is kind of a love/hate relationship with all things Japan. The older generation remember the Japanese occupation days as positive because they brought in roads and laid down the ground work for modernizing the country. Most of them also speak Japanese. The younger generations embrace things like anime/manga, AV girls are very popular, and of course there are lots of dramas being made based on Japanese animes/mangas. However, there are also a lot of negative connotations with Japan such as Taiwanese parents not wanting their kids to date Japanese men because they think that they are possessive and women can only become housewives.

- International attitudes towards countries: More and more people, especially in the big cities are speaking English. Still very broken English, but they are very accepting of foreigners in the big cities. I was surprised by how many foreigners there were in Taipei and Kaohsiung actually. Very different from even several years ago. People will still stop you in the street and take pictures of you though. This happened to my husband (who is Caucasian) when we were in Taiwan just a year and a half ago.

- Racial attitudes towards ethnic groups: With blacks I think there is still a lot of negativity towards them. Many parents will let their children date a white person, but not a black person. There is still distrust towards people from the mainland as well.

- Cultural change: one big thing that has changed seems to be the age that people are getting married is getting older and older. There are a lot of Taiwanese "power" women who don't want to settle, even though there is a lot of older generational push. But unfortunately it is still very much a "man's" world in a sense that a woman is married into the man's family and has to be a dutiful daughter in law and is seen as a terrible wife if she does not take care of her husband's family sometimes at the expense of her relationship with her own family.

Some random thoughts I guess about the topics that were mentioned before. Would be interested to dialogue with someone who is from China about their perception of Taiwan. I feel a very big cultural divide as a Taiwanese person with China, but I'm sure there are a lot of similarities because of how our entertainment is shared with dramas and music.

Rachel Udin
04-25-2013, 06:38 PM
I do know that someone from Hong Kong put it this way about music and dramas from Taiwan.

That Mainland Chinese dramas suck, because they put all the budget into the movies and the dramas from Taiwan are much better, because all the money is being put there. But she didn't like Taiwanese movies much.

But Hong Kong is a different world than the Mainland. Even Mainland Chinese see it that way. (I've asked before. ^^)

I did hear, also, that there is a Taiwanese language as well. Rainie Yang tried to speak it and found it "difficult" (This is versus the dialect of Mandarin) Is it no longer mainstream then? Dying out? Or something that is only confined to cities. This is pure curiosity on my part.

*shrugs*