As you might have noticed if you live in Japan, Korean culture has become surprisingly popular the past years. I say surprisingly because, even though political tension has remained high due to a series of comments and actions done by politicians from both countries and, if you check Japanese blogs you’ll find plethora of racist comments posted by ネット右翼 (nettouyoku), right-wing activists who act mostly online sharing their ideas against China and Korea specifically. Not so long ago, Japanese people stood up to an anti-Korean protest that took place in Shin-Okubo (a neighborhood food of Korean restaurants, specialty shops and more), as the link follows.
Two years ago there was also a big protest outside the Fuji TV headquarters because of the 3 hour-long Korean drama marathon they played every afternoon.
One may think that many Japanese people share these views, but actually that’s not true. Most Japanese people I’ve met here are very accepting of Koreans living here and enjoy Korean culture as well. In the case of women, many of them seem to like Korean dramas to certain extent and K-Pop singers are more famous than ever; I remember a couple of friends complaining about how fast tickets for a Korean singer’s concert got sold out! (It took less than 1 hour).
Korean boyband, BIG BANG, in a concert in Tokyo Dome Last year. Basically, if a band or singer gives a concert here, he/she is extremely popular in Japan already.
While I’m not personally a fan of any Korean bands, I really enjoy how I can get to experience some aspects of Korean culture just by living in Tokyo. I tried Korean food for the first time in the US many years ago, but I didn’t actually like it until I tried it in Japan.
Also, at the English Conversation Dining I work, many of our female customers have told me that, in addition to English, they are also taking or at least took Korean classes. Reportedly Korean language is easier for Japanese speakers to learn, but I’m sure they would’ve not even bothered if it weren’t for the Korean boom the country has been experiencing.
I wonder how much longer will this trend last? For the time being, I might enjoy a delicious Bibimbap with lots of spicy sauce for lunch today!