Have you ever question about how does characters and actions in movie/drama influence people behavior?

What is soft power?

Harvard University’s Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power.” Rather than forcing or giving money, they have the ability to attract and engage. It is now used to change and influence society’s thinking. It is based on three fundamental assets: culture, political values, and foreign policy. In recent years, the concept of soft power has gained a lot of traction, both as a conceptual framework for understanding the cultural dimensions of international relations and as a practical guide for governments investing in the international expansion of news and entertainment media.

Does media act as a soft power?

Nowadays, as people consume media in every part of their life whether for education or entertainment. It seems like people, as an audience,  was influenced by the content that publish through media, whether it be on TV, radio, and social media.

Soft power of Media In the Past VS Today

There was a Nazi propaganda which is the media culture that was influenced by the hypodermic needle theory (the idea that the media could inject key message directly to an individual and the individuals would believe whatever they saw or heard in the media without hesitation) That could be claimed as a power of media back at that time. The government took control of all forms of Communication in Germany: newspaper, magazine, books, public meetings, rallies, art, music, movie, and radio. The viewpoint in any way threatening to Nazi belief were censored or eliminated. This show that in the past, the government used the media as a soft power to brainwash citizens which is unethical and unacceptable.

However, as time goes by, people are learning about things and change their attitudes and mindset. Soft power in the media has completely changed from the past.  Nowadays, cultural, moral and idea  that exemplify for the society have been inserted through various media. The brainwashing by the government no longer present.

Soft power of media In Korean Media Industry 

 In Korean Media Industry, They are focus on the influence of South Korean media such as K-dramas, K-Movies on Korean society, especially on how it motivates and affect Korean people in their daily life. Moreover, the aims of the Korean drama, almost every drama, are not only for entertaining, but it also acts as a “soft power” that could bring people to raise awareness in ongoing issues, they are always included insights and examples in their works. For example Most of the drama made a male actor to be a gentleman as they are expected that the character would be a good example to the public.  One example could be that in the car scene, every person in the car has to seatbelt. So even in the least detail, they are trying to express the soft power to influence people. Moreover, in K-dramas, various Korean cultures are inserted. For instance, they imply how to respect others and makes a patriot career of the lead character such as Civil servants serving the country : police, lawyers, prosecutors, and military.

Development of the Korean Film Industry

Korean films, Korean music, and even Korean dramas have recently grown in popularity in Asia, with the Chinese constituting the largest audience for such Korean television programs. With the enormous success and popularity of Korean TV programs in countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and other parts of Asia, it is not surprising to see Asians influenced by Korean culture and traditions as portrayed on Korean screens. Because of the rapid spread of Korean culture and lifestyle in most Asian countries, particularly China, The term “Hallyu” was coined by the Chinese to describe the influence of Korean culture on other countries, primarily through the media. This was sparked by the broadcast of the Korean drama “Daejanggeum,” which made China the greatest victim of Korean influence in 2005.

Soon after, a number of articles on the new Korean wave began to be featured in journals, magazines, newspapers, etc. It was even speculated that the major reason for Korean influence stems from the Korean government’s use of Korean screens to emerge from the financial crisis, thereby taking significant steps to promote and export their films. The fact that China and Korea share some similarities, not only in terms of culture, but also in terms of civilizations and philosophies, explains why Korean films have such a strong influence on Chinese audiences.

How does characters and actions in movie/drama influence people behavior?

As I mention earlier, they imply some soft power through the in the drama. For a big picture, I would give you an example of drama that is well known which is Descendants of the sun. This drama follows the development of a love story between Captain Yoo Shi Jin of the South Korean Special Forces and Doctor Kang Mo Yeon, a hospital surgeon. Both in their Motherland and in the fictitious, war-torn country of Urk, they will find themselves in the midst of major events and deadly dangers. The soft power of this drama, however, is the character of the lead male character, who is a patriot. Many scenes in the drama imply and display how he loves and serves his country as a member of the South Korean Special Forces. It demonstrates how Koreans attempt to represent their nationalism through soft media in order to make people feel obligated to serve their country.

Another example  would be Dae Jang Geum, a Korean drama. As more people around the world consume K-drama, some people began watching it as early as Dae Jang Geum (2003). Around 500 years ago, during the Chosun Dynasty, Korea had a rigidly hierarchical and male dominated social system. “Jewel in the Palace,” set during this time period, is based on the true story of Jang-Geum, a legendary girl who became the first woman to serve as the supreme royal physician of her time. Despite her low status as a low-caste girl in a male-dominated society, Jang-Geum overcame a series of social prejudices to become a royal cook, then the royal physician, and finally the king’s physician. The title “The Great Jang-Geum” was bestowed upon her by the king. Because of this drama, it makes people start watching other k drama and introducing Korean food to other countries. Foreign was influenced and consuming Korean food which make Korean food popular nowadays.

The measurement and the success of soft power in Media Industry 

As we already know that the aims of making a movie in Korean media industry is not just for entertain people, but also try to educate and use media soft power to change a person’s behavior and shape good society. How can we know that people are adapting those behaviors from the media? this is a video clip of one good example of how Korean men respect women by immediately turns their head away as instinct while  a woman taking the skirt off whether it is just a prank But it shows how these men were educated and because of Korean media always present gentleman character through the drama and movie.

Soft power of Korean Media Industry in others country

There is a difference between nation branding, which is when a country promotes a positive but superficial image of itself, and soft power. Soft power combines soft resources—attractive pop culture fixtures such as movie stars and pop icons, tourist attractions, and a welcoming environment for study abroad programs. After all, as Joseph Nye, the father of soft power, put it, soft power is all about persuading someone else to want what you want. Fortunately for Seoul, the way Korean culture has grown in popularity around the world—with government support but not direction—will make it easier for the country to try to convert its vast soft power reserves into active soft power across the country. Government support for the creative industries in South Korea dates back to the early 1990s. The South Korean government laid the groundwork by encouraging corporate investment and vertical integration in the film industry, as well as gradually removing barriers such as screen quotas for foreign content. This meant giving South Korean creatives a secure financial foundation while also encouraging them to innovate and compete with their international counterparts. This soft power has attracted fans and tourists from all over the world, and Korea is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world

At the end of the day, Soft  power of media is a part that could influence people and adapted those behaviors in their own life. Soft power most likely beneficial for thinking of society as those soft power could affect on one’s behavior in their daily life. Soft power is a new way to change people perspective rather than as propaganda which is unacceptable. Therefore, in my opinion, I think this soft power is a good start for making publicly raise awareness and understand about the different social value, attitude, perspective and ongoing social issue while consuming media.