Art And Culture

Hallyu Seeks a Come Back in Iran

Hallyu Seeks a Come Back in Iran Hallyu Seeks a Come Back in Iran

The South Korean pop culture industry expects to spread the Korean culture wave of “hallyu” in the Middle East with the recent lifting of sanctions on Iran, industry sources say.

Hallyu, which refers to the global boom of Korean pop culture, was once widespread in Iran as well, reports

“Jewel in the Palace,” a Korean cuisine drama that was aired on local TV networks in Iran in 2006 and 2007, surpassed a 90% viewership.

“Jumong,” a drama about the founder of the ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo, was also a big hit in 2008 and 2009, with the highest ratings reaching up to 85%.

The local media gave significant coverage to the dramas and actors. Some even visited South Korea to cover the filming locations.

“Jewel in the Palace” brought the Korean cuisine boom to Tehran. LG Electronics Co. increased its market presence by contracting actor Song il-gook, the lead character in “Jumong,” for an advertisement.

In November 2015, Iranian reporters visited South Korea to participate in a new TV show’s world promotion event that invited foreign reporters from Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia to the filming site.

The period drama “Saimdang, the Herstory,” which stars Lee Young-ae, marks Lee’s return as an actress, 10 years after she halted her career to get married and have children.

She led the smash-hit epic series “Jewel in the Palace” and last appeared in director Park Chan-wook’s 2005 film “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.”

“Iranian reporters are very interested in the drama due to Lee Young-ae,” said Kim Young-bae, an official with Group8, which is producing it. “(We) do not know where this interest is heading to, but it will be great for Hallyu in general to have an open Iranian market.”

There is a low possibility that the boom of South Korean pop culture will directly lead to financial success as the content has often been exported at a low cost to boost hallyu in the region.

Still, the Iranian market holds significance as a possible foothold for its future spread in the Middle East.

Manufacturing businesses are looking forward to an increase in exports by taking advantage of the popularity of soap operas.

For the K-pop industry, however, Iran is still new territory.

“If cultural exchanges improve and conditions are made to open concerts, K-pop singers could consider (Iran) as one of the countries to visit during their world tours,” said an official with S.M. Entertainment, South Korea’s leading management agency.