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Growing popularity of Korean dramas, POP stars and cuisine As with most Asian countries which have begun to embrace Korea like never before, the screening of Winter Sonata on Malaysia's terrestrial TV 2 years ago, starring Bae Yong Jun and Choi Ji Woo, marked the beginning of the "Hallyu"(Korean Wave) phenomenon in Malaysia.
In a local newspaper interview here, opinions were gathered from soap drama fans. Most said that "Korean dramas have love stories that are more compelling". Some even said that in Korean dramas, the love between the guy and girl is very pure and everlasting, believing that if they fall in love it is forever. These dramas, which touch on the fast disappearing aspects of life in Asia, like filial piety, old-fashioned romance and male chivalry, have captured many Malaysian hearts and brought in the wave of Korean sentiment which has swept across the country.
In contrast, some movie vendors gave a simple reason for the phenomenal take off of Korean entertainment, which are good looks and talent. They believed the reason why Korean dramas are selling so well is because Malaysians were attracted to the good looking actors and actresses. Regardless of the reasons why Kdrama is so loved by Malaysians, it has definitely created a new following of not only Korean dramas but all things related to Korea here in Malaysia. As a result, booming alongside Korean dramas is the heightening appreciation for Korean culture, fashion and even cuisine.
Korean Culture In Malaysia there are two other major races besides the main ethnic group, Malay. Over the years, little "Towns" such as Chinatowns and Little Indias have emerged in Kuala Lumpur to cater to the needs of the two other major ethnic groups here. However, little known to most Malaysians, the Korean society here has quietly built up its own community in Kuala Lumpur, whereby small Korean businesses flourished catering to meet the demands of the Korean community in Malaysia.
Today, the little town which was once known only to the Korean community has been nicknamed "Korean Town" by Malaysians living in Kuala Lumpur. The existence of the Korean Town was brought to light to the general public when newspapers covered articles on the new "Town" in Malaysia. This sudden surge of interest in the Korean culture here was prompted by the growing popularity of Korean dramas. Once only catering for the Korean community, Korean Town is slowly attracting locals to patronize their businesses, such as restaurants, supermarkets, beauty salons and retail outlets. Korean Town is one of the platforms for Korean culture to take off and reach out to those who are keen to experience and be a part of the Korean culture without having to leave the country.
Korean Music & Pop stars
Recent newspaper articles covering performances by Korean acts, has also reported that Malaysian K-pop fans have started learning writing Korean and have been seen holding up message boards scrawled with Korean words. In addition to that, language schools here has noticed an increase in Korean language studies citing reasons that more students are gaining interest in the language which is believed to be sparked by the fascination with the Korean culture from watching Korean dramas.
Seen around cities in Malaysia also, more and more apparels and accessories from Korea are sold in retail outlets as well as stalls in shopping centers here. Kdrama which has created a wave for KPop,
has now not only outranked Japanese pop stars in terms of popularity but also in fashion stakes. There are more and more from the younger generation who are emulating the dressing of Korean stars as well as adorned with fashion accessories made famous in dramas such as Stairway to Heaven. Having said that, K-pop music itself has yet to make such deep impact as Taiwan pop music in Malaysia.
Nevertheless, the sight of one day having Malaysians singing to along to Korean tunes in karaoke is very likely.
For the past two years, Korean restaurants, which in the past were mainly concentrated in the city centre, began sprouting outside the vicinity of the city into smaller suburbs outside Kuala Lumpur. Not surprisingly, since the Kdrama Dae Jang Gum has sparked an interest in Malaysians to sample Korean cuisine. Consequently, this has also led to eateries such as hawker centers and food courts serving Korean cuisine to cater to the curiosity of the average Malaysian. Korean Tours
All this rush of Korean TV dramas in the Malaysian terrestrial and satellite channels has created a following in which is believed to be the contributing factor of the boom of South Korea tours in the past two years. It is believed that the allure with Korea began by watching the breathtaking backdrops in K-dramas and has attracted many Malaysian tourists to Korea. Besides that, Malaysians were also flocking to shooting locations just to soak in the surroundings made familiar by sitting through hours of K-drama. As a result of K-dramas, Malaysians has unconsciously ignited a desire be in Korea as well as relate to Korea by visiting the country. With the emergence of the Korean film industry in Asia and the rest of the world, Malaysia has joined in the world's fascination with all things Korean.