Say Hello to Digital Hallyu in UAE

By: Urwa Tariq  

Young Emiratis today are obsessed with Korean entertainment, from boy bands to television dramas, reality shows to movies. Intrigued by the newly emerging K-wave seen particularly among young females, this paper explores how Emiratis negotiate their cultural identities through their active involvement with K-pop digitally. The literature review covered four important traits of the research. The first, Emirati entertainment Industry and the initiatives taken by the government. The second aspect is the set of challenges. The imported content was the third point, highlighting the variety of choices Emiratis had (like Bollywood and Hollywood), which affected the local industry. Lastly, it was the rise of the Hallyu phenomena in UAE. Several factors were considered to understand why K-pop attracted the Middle Eastern viewers, especially females. The study focuses on two research aspects: Defining cultural identity and understanding the rise of the K-pop in the UAE, accordingly four research questions were created. The research, which was exploratory in nature utilized a focus group consisting of Emirati females from UAE University. The findings indicted that Emirati K-pop fans were not mindless zealots for Korean culture; instead, they were cultural agents struggling with complex identities. Korean culture evokes escapism to an idealistic world to which they can relate psychologically and culturally, thus indicating that Emiratis cognition of the Hallyu was conscious rather than passive. The study also recognized indicators of possible threats to cultural identity. In conclusion, recommendations are provided for how to respond to the growing online K-wave and preserve local identity

Korean Wave, Hallyu, Emirati Identity, Culture, Media, Entertainment, Digital, Cinema
2019 Special Focus: The Future of Democracy in the Digital Age
Poster Session

Urwa Tariq

PhD Candidate, College of Humanities and Social Science, UAE University, United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates