Edited by Yasushi Watanabe
Chapter 20: Pop culture and soft power competition in East Asia
Undoubtedly, pop culture has consequential influence on its audience. This undergirds the proposition that pop culture products can be transformed into a resource and an instrument of soft power, allowing the product exporting nation to positively influence its target audience. Empirically, however, three identifiable factors render the proposition moot: the fragmentary character of the audience’s propensity to reject explicit foreign cultural elements onscreen; the resistance of the majority non-audience among the citizenry of the target nation against foreign ‘cultural invasion’; and the history of international relations, particularly mutual animosities between the exporting and the target nations. In the emergent East Asian regional pop cultural economy, Chinese producers have been able to leverage China’s massive domestic market to engage in co-productions with Korean and Japanese producers, and to determine significantly the product content. However, analytically, the regional pop cultural economy is best seen as essentially a profit-driven industry, and whatever ideological pay-offs the three governments derive from it are serendipitous returns.
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