MA, Master of Arts
Thesis - Open Access
Program in Asian Studies
Committee Chair - Yoshihiro Yasuhara
Committee Member - Jimmy Yu
Committee Member - Koji Ueno
Through a case study of Korean television drama Winter Sonata, this thesis explores why Winter Sonata became so successful in Japan and was able to affect many middle-aged and elderly women, and how Korean Wave has changed the image of Korea and its culture.
In recent years, the popular Korean Wave (Hallyu) of culture and entertainment has swept over all of Asia, but has had a particularly profound impact in Japan. The Korean Wave provides a rare historical moment for Korean and Japanese people to critically review and reassess their own lives, societies and most importantly, their checkered past history.
Winter Sonata has secured its position as a social phenomenon, becoming popular especially in middle-aged and elderly women of Japan. This demographic have been neglected among the audience of trendy dramas in Japan. Because women in twenties were regarded as major consumers, sponsors wanted to produce youth-oriented trendy dramas. Thus, Japanese broadcasting companies did not produce television dramas for middle-aged and elderly women before the boom of Winter Sonata.
In reality, however, despite the fact that the audience of the Japanese television dramas were composed of middle-aged and elderly women, almost no program was available that fitted their taste until the drama was telecasted in Japan. Their taste centers around their penchant for pure love story with young characters in it, which is no longer addressed in Japanese drama these days, the drama revitalized a feeling of nostalgia for romantic pure love among the middle aged and elderly female.
In addition Japanese middle-aged women’s interest in the Korean drama is closely related to their appreciation of some traditional Confucian values, such as filial piety and close family relationship, attract middle-aged women, and these characteristics allow them to remind their past and old teaching. However, Japanese audiences are selective in the traditional Confucian values they identify in Winter Sonata. Middle-aged and elderly Japanese women may feel nostalgia for their childhood and for some Confucian values, but they do not think that Japan must return to a conservative patriarchal social structure.
The interest in Winter Sonata has been extended to the whole Korean popular culture like other dramas, movies, music, and media. Along with that development, an increasing number of people in Japan have become aware of a variety of aspects in Korean society and culture, and beyond the popular culture, they have started to step forward in learning Korean language and traveling around Korea with their positive and empirical acts. That is, the interest in Korean popular culture has been linked to the change in a Japanese way of life. Since the Korean Wave appeared, Japanese people have increased their interest in overall Korean culture and Korea as a nation. The notable number of Japanese people renewed their perception of Korea with a more active and positive attitude than in the past when the history between Korea and Japan was rife with not a few diplomatic problems.
Lee, Jonghoon, "'Winter Sonata' Dreams: The Influence of The Korean Wave on Japanese Society" (2010). Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 3156.