BH Discuss: Do idols help or hurt Korea’s independent directors, artists and musicians?
During the recent Busan International Film Festival there were many complaints that in the past couple of years the focus of the festival has shifted from the films being shown at the festival to the various idols and celebrity actors who walk the red carpet at the events and premieres. Netizens complained that while idols like EXO and Big Bang’s TOP drew the big crowds, the veteran actors who were there to promote the films they starred in did not get the attention they deserved.
Last week I attended an event which was part of a film festival which highlighted the work of some of Busan’s up and coming independent and experimental film directors. One of the directors did a presentation about the various film festivals which take place in Busan every year and afterwards I had the chance to ask him how he felt about the growing idol presence at BIFF. He was strongly of the opinion that the shifting focus onto idols and celebrities could be doing serious harm to the independent cinema shown at Busan as the big mainstream independent companies get more and more involved. He felt this was exacerbated by the fact that as idols and celebrities became more important the large entertainment companies like CJ E&M which make the kind of mainstream content they are associated with would be able to push the festival in a direction which favours them over independent filmmakers.
But the idol effect is not just felt by filmmakers. As more money is poured into Hallyu by the Korean government in order to advance Korea’s economy and cultural soft power, this puts independent musicians at a disadvantage.
However in some ways it could also be helpful to these artists as international K-pop fans become more aware of Korean hip hop, indie and rock music. As singer/songwriter Hugh Keice put it in an interview with us:
‘I am actually rather grateful for the interest in K-pop as more people are now becoming interested in other Korean music and musicians due to this. Although I am different from the idols, as I am no longer young, still it is nice to be noticed by people because I am Korean and making music. So people will initially start with K-pop music and end up at mine.’
Rapper B-Free, on the other had, was more concerned that the corporate style of idol culture makes it difficult for artists and musicians to express themselves and attract attention:
‘I think the important thing is how we are shown by the media. Do we come on like idol groups with dyed hair and make-up and say what they want us to say or do we come on as artists saying and doing whatever we want? In Korea in order to be on TV the company has to pay the networks or have a special connection but I think in due time, if we just work hard enough, they will have to have us on.’
Related links from Beyond Hallyu and around the internet:
So what do you think? Do idols attract more attention to independent artists from outside of Korea or do they reduce the number of platforms they can use to promote their work?
Let us know your thoughts!