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The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture
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The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  1,063 Ratings  ·  170 Reviews

By now, everyone in the world knows the song "Gangnam Style" and Psy, an instantly recognizable star. But the song's international popularity is no passing fad. "Gangnam Style" is only one tool in South Korea's extraordinarily elaborate and effect
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Picador
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Amar Pai
Jul 18, 2014 Amar Pai rated it it was ok
Breezy, cheesy, wheezy... it's an OK book but due to the memoir-ish nature of it, doesn't actually get into the details of Korean Cool as much as you'd expect. I mean she does get into those details, but it's all presented through this lens of personal experience that I didn't find that compelling. The whole thing just felt a little too light weight, e.g. it annoyed me that there's a chapter on "The Birth of Irony" where she argues that irony is only present in wealthy countries and Korea had to ...more
Kristian Bjørkelo
I was taken completely by surprise by The Birth of Korean Cool. I don't know what I actually expected, as one with only a passing interest in Korean pop culture. I've seen some Korean reality shows, followed some bands and drama. Mostly for the heck of it, and as a result of a general curiosity. And while I have grown critical of what I suspected was the machinations of a well oiled fabrication process, I lacked the cultural and historical context to fully comprehend it. Euny Hong has rectified ...more
a little faith
Mar 27, 2014 a little faith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been a fan of South Korean Entertainment for around a decade and like many others around the world I’ve seen it gain popularity steadily, then rapidly and now exponentially. However trying to understand a culture through media and TV alone is unsafe, naïve and short-sighted. Euny Hong provides not only the background to South Korea’s seemingly rags to riches story but her own personal musings about how it came about for those not inclined to believe in fate.

Euny Hong’s writing style is elo
Jakey Gee
Sep 09, 2016 Jakey Gee rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
This is a well paced and personable look at the K-phenomenon, nicely augmented with that outsider-insider angle that comes from Hong having spent most of her childhood in the US and where being Korean was once embarrassing, not hip.

It's pretty useful on Korean culture in general. I love the idea of shame and rage ('han') being the engine of so much ambition and progress. I find myself thinking of Korea at moments as the Asian answer to Ireland (or perhaps Poland); dicked around by boorish neigh
I won a copy of this through Gooreads First Reads

I really hope Hong plans to write more books in the future. Her writing makes you feel like she is sitting across the table from you and speaking to directly to you. There were only a few spots were I felt like I was actually reading a non-fiction book. Besides explaining how Korean Pop Culture has spread through out the world, she also (lightly) touches on S. Korea's economy right after the Korean War, the social changes the country has seen in j
Indah Threez Lestari
685 - 2016

Sejauh ini aku belum terkena gelombang Hallyu, khususnya dari sisi Drakor atau K-Pop (kalau manhwa mah lumayan banyak yang dibaca, meskipun cuma sedikit yang dikoleksi). Bukan berarti aku belum pernah mencoba menontonnya sedikit, tapi tetap saja tidak tertarik meskipun lingkungan sekitar sepertinya doyan benar.

Kalau dari sisi teknologi sih, ada beberapa barang merek Korea yang cukup lama kugunakan, terutama yang bermerek Samsung atau LG. Meski demikian, buat hp sepertinya aku masih set
Marina Zala
** Books 24 - 2016 **

4 of 5 stars!

Should i mention again why this books is awesome?? I doesn't learn much about South Korea and more curious the story about North Korea.. After i read this books. wow okay just wow i've got so many information that i haven't know about South Korea before especially Hallyu wave.

You can saw a lot of my status updates for this books. some facts that really overhelming me and i can get it why K-pop and hallyu wave is bigger like nowadays.

This books also already be
Jul 15, 2016 Anthony rated it really liked it
Great funny personal introduction to Hallyu Wave and "soft power" in general. I was a little bit familiar with some things from my time as a SONE, but this one really hits all the notes. It connects Korean economics, history, and geopolitics to Hallyu Wave in a serious way really well without being dull or academic. It's all framed in a bit of a way for green-eared Westerners to be like "I can't believe this!", which can be a plus or minus depending. But that's my demographic so it worked for me ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Lede rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, asia
Reading this book really did feel like sitting and talking to a friend(as one reviewer noted), listening to her snarky, but informed opinions on South Korea.

It's an entertaining way to relay information and facts; SK has been invaded 400 times over the past 5000 years but only participated in the Vietnam war, you don't want to corner someone who has a generational build up of Han and SK's may not be able to sing or dance but they WILL do that better than their arch enemies(Japanese)!

May 28, 2015 Simone rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-read

From the title I expected this to be a little more research-y. It's definitely more memoir-ish. Which isn't a bad thing, I enjoyed the way Euny weaved her personal experiences in with a description of South Korea in the (roughly) last 30 years.
Satkar Ulama
Jun 10, 2015 Satkar Ulama rated it really liked it
I am not a fan of Korean pop culture. The only Korean drama I've ever seen was Winter Sonata. And it only lasted for two episodes.

But I am a fan of cultural studies.

In this witty and informative book by Hong, you will discover the many stories behind Korean wave or so-called Hallyu that you enjoy through Korean drama series or Korean music outspreading everywhere. Apparently, Korean old cultural practices have formed a strong belief that most of its people bring into their daily lives as well as
Barry Welsh
Jan 05, 2015 Barry Welsh rated it really liked it
Journalist Euny Hong’s highly praised and much discussed new book is part memoir and part socio-cultural investigation into South Korea’s rise to international cultural prominence through Hallyu – The Korean Wave. In her introduction she laments that “Korea was not cool in 1985.” 1985 being the year when, as a fully Americanized 12 year old Korean-American girl, she was uprooted by her family from Chicago and taken to Seoul. Initially excited to escape America and leave behind classmates who wou ...more
Lady Jayme,
Oct 03, 2014 Lady Jayme, rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
First, watch this:

The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture by Euny Hong.

If you own a Samsung phone or television, have listened to a K-pop song or watched a K-drama, you may have wondered how it is that South Korea has crept up on Japan as the go-to Asian nation for our electronics and pop culture. As recently as 1965, South Korea’s GDP was less than that of Ghana. Today, South Korea is the world’s fifteenth largest economy
Jul 19, 2014 Chelsea rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I have been seeing more and more Korean pop culture in the world, and personally, I love K-dramas and K-pop. These facts made me really interested in reading this book. I did not know exactly what to expect when I started reading this book and it mostly lived up to what I imagined. I loved reading about the differences in Korean culture and their pop-culture as the book progressed, and it made me think about the way that their govern ...more
Oct 20, 2014 Steven rated it liked it
I have to say at the outset, that I found this book a thought provoking and interesting read. The author's sense of humor and personal stories alone make the book worth reading.

That being said, I found plenty of nits ripe for picking. I think most of them stemmed simply from a lack of detailed research on some of the topics. Some areas of Korean history that represent deep emotional scars are treated almost whimsically, and from the point of view of the author, someone that grew up in the lap of
Sep 09, 2014 Mei rated it liked it
Hong seems to be using Psy's 15 minutes of fame to create her own 15 writing a book that is really about the psyche of modern day South Korea. That part is a very interesting read. To claim that Korea is conquering the world through exporting it's pop culture seems like a stretch but I guess she figured that was a needed hook.
Alex Chudler
Mar 31, 2016 Alex Chudler rated it liked it
How Korea quickly changed from a poor third-world country to the current economic and pop culture powerhouse, through the intense dedication of the government and its aggressively hard-working citizens. Very interesting to learn about the origins of parts of Korean culture that are becoming so prolific here, like kimchee and k-pop.
Jan 08, 2015 Monica rated it it was amazing
Every Kpop fan should read this book. Packed with history, personal anecdotes, and cultural analysis, it is informative, funny, and powerful.

Dec 07, 2014 Charles rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and learnt a lot about Korea's society and modern history. A lot of the writing is based on the author's personal experience and there are insights from various people she has interviewed. I will make some notes later and publish on my blog.

Meaghan Odell
Aug 30, 2015 Meaghan Odell rated it really liked it
Fascinating read for any of you living in Korea. Hong praises the country in what others may see as heavy government intervention in "culture" and "branding," however she presents a solid argument in how the 21st century will belong to Korea.
Steven S
Apr 24, 2016 Steven S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Korean Cool oleh Euny Hong. Narasi memikat yang membedah rahasia kebangkitan Korea Selatan dan kaitannya dengan budaya populer yang saat ini dinikmati secara global.

Review lengkapnya bisa dibaca disini:
Aug 21, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
Thoughtful, precise and poignant.
A book I would recommend to many, especially those with an interest in popular culture and contemporary society.
Arifina Budi
Mar 06, 2016 Arifina Budi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jury Razumau
Nov 24, 2016 Jury Razumau rated it really liked it
4.5, fascinating throughout.
Nov 18, 2016 Tiem.Sach.Cua.Xu rated it liked it
The Birth of Korean Cool- cái nhìn cận cảnh, hài hước và mới mẻ về cách Hàn Quốc biến mình trở thành một cường quốc dẫn đầu thế giới về Pop culture của thế kỉ 20
Năm 1985, khi 12 tuổi, cô bé Euny Hong đã cùng gia đình chuyển về Gangnam, Seoul sinh sống, trong suốt thời gian sinh sống và học tập tại quê hương, cô chính là người đã chứng kiến nhiều bước chuyển mình đột phá trong kinh tế của Hàn Quốc, nhưng bên cạnh đó cũng là người nhìn thấy nhiều mặt tiêu cực trong đời sống nơi đây.
Những câu chuyệ
Tran Pham
Nov 06, 2016 Tran Pham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tran by: nhà văn Ploy Ngọc Bích
Một quyển sách viết về Hàn Quốc dưới góc nhìn một Hàn Kiều vừa có tầm vừa giàu kinh nghiệm viết ra với rất nhiều màu sắc từ chính trị, kinh tế, xã hội con người chứ không chỉ gói gọn về giải trí, không có sự tâng bốc thái quá nhưng vẫn cho thấy được con đường đi đến sự sành điệu ngày nay của Hàn Quốc ra sao. Với người Hàn bây giờ không chỉ làm văn hóa, mà họ còn bán cả cách làm giàu mà nhiều quốc gia mong muốn có được. Cuốn sách giúp bạn biết thêm về những điều bạn khó hiểu khi đọc báo Hàn khi h ...more
Dec 29, 2016 JK rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-fun-uni, 2016
Informative, but also breezy. For the reader wishing for a primer on the rise of Korean pop culture, there's an easily digestible history and description of various factors, players, and events in Korean history and culture that allowed for this rise. Also a ton of interesting interviews and anecdotes from those influential in the Korean government and industry, as well as social commentary (shoutout to Ask a Korean!)

But at times the information is tempered a bit by the breeziness. When Hong dis
Nasha Lubis
Sep 16, 2016 Nasha Lubis rated it really liked it
I was literally setting up my cell phone to watch my third rerun of the latest Korean hits: Descendants of the Sun when I stumbled upon the book in an airport bookstore. The title “The Birth of Korean Cool” caught my attention immediately. Ever since I got addicted to this Korean TV series, I’ve always wondered how did the Koreans sneak out from behind and became the symbol of coolness in Asia – in the world even. I got a chance to meet a number of Koreans while I was taking my Master’s in the U ...more
Jan 11, 2017 chuoibantho rated it really liked it
Chuyện thật như đùa về The Han's Miracle. Xây dựng và xuất khẩu văn hoá, lại đi từ con số 0? Đứng ở Âu ở Mỹ có thể không biết, chứ đứng từ Á từ Phi gì đó mà nhìn lại ảnh hưởng thì mới thấy đúng là một dự án phi thường.

Thích sách vì sách cho em biết nhiều điều về đất nước này mà trước đây chưa hề biết tới (Xã hội trước những năm 70s-80s, Han, Samsvck, chuyện dây dưa rễ má Hàn - Nhật, etc.), cũng như một loạt cultural reference mà tác giả viện dẫn hoặc liên hệ tới.

Lần cuối cùng nhìn thấy khí thế v
Dedul Faithful
Sep 25, 2016 Dedul Faithful rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Judul: Korean Cool
Penulis: Euny Hong
Penerbit: Bentang
Tebal: 284 Halaman
Terbit: Cetakan Pertama, Januari 2016

KOREA SELATAN adalah salah satu negara maju di benua Asia, bahkan merupakan salah satu negara dengan peradaban termaju di dunia. Negara ini dengan segala kemajuan teknologinya membuat siapa saja kagum. Tentu saja, selain itu negara ini selalu tak lelah untuk mempromosikan budaya populernya ke seluruh penjuru negeri di dunia, negara mana pun. Korea Selatan mencoba menginvasi dengan cara pos
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“You may have an iPhone, for example, but its microchips are made by Apple’s biggest competitor—the Korean electronics company Samsung.” 1 likes
“Irony is that special privilege of wealthy nations;” 1 likes
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