‘Construction Worker Culture… What Do Saudis Know About South Korea?

In the beginning, and before the winds of Korean culture arrived, the knowledge of the Saudis about the Korean people was linked to the construction workers who left a good impression of the Korean people, as they were known for being hard, sincerity and dedication work. in infrastructure and reconstruction projects over the past many years.

At the beginning of the millennium, the storms of Korean culture blew, and the Saudis interacted with its cultural products with passion and interest, danced to its rhythms and spoke its language, and the effect gradually continued until lovers of Korean culture in divided into two are generations: the first to discover his passion for this culture through TV channels and dubbed dramas And links to online forums. The second one to receive the Korean wind was the so-called “Halyu storm”, which raged in East Asian countries and then dominated the world.

This second generation showed a deeper interest in Korean culture, and even created labels and a glossary of terms that no one else could understand. The general public in Saudi Arabia was not aware of the extent of the spread and popularity of Korean culture until a party held by one of the Korean groups, which made a splash and fascinated the Saudis.

What is different?

Some fans of Korean culture in Saudi Arabia mention that their attachment to this culture began after the first Saudi channel aired the series “Jungoma” or “Jewel of the Palace”, a historical series that tells the story of the life of a woman who was the first to be allowed to be a royal doctor in history, and the first to use Surgery for treatment in the history of the Far East.

The series was dubbed in Classic Arabic and was shown in 2008, at which time it was a huge success and follow-up with audiences in Saudi Arabia. One of the followers said that he did not attract the attention of a certain age group, but instead attracted young and old, including her grandmother, who was interested and followed him regularly.

The follow-up of the Saudis did not stop at the dubbed Korean drama, because after that the “kbs world” channel, founded by the Korean government, appeared and is very active in spreading South Korean culture in the world or the so-called “Hallyu wave”, and the channel produces series, plays, documentaries and comedies. Translated into Arabic.

With the smartphone revolution, some Korean groups are creating apps that include their albums. A number of groups became famous among the teenage group in the time corresponding to 2010, including the “Super Junior” group, the “Sunset” group and a number of other groups that were contemporary with the first generation. For Korean dramas, and “K-pop” following songs or “k-pop”. “When I talk to the new generation of followers of Korean culture, I feel a gap between me and them, there are many things that have changed,” she continues.

hallyu storm

Korean Storm or “Hallyu” is a term coined by Chinese and Taiwanese media to denote a phenomenon in which people from other countries are widely consuming and enthusiastic about K-pop culture, but it seems that the storm is no longer up to East Asian countries are not limited. .

The “Halyu” storm spread worldwide until it reached the Middle East, creating a second generation of Korean culture lovers in Saudi Arabia.

Wasan, a fan of the famous group “BTS”, remembers that the name “Army” is given to the fans of this group, which means an army, and this name is used on a global scale, television or radio.

There are many names in English terms with the creation of meanings for them within the framework of Korean pop culture, for example, the term “Solo Stan” describes a fan of one member of a band, but is not interested in the rest of the members do not. , and “Stream” means the band’s fans agree to increase the listening numbers for an album To bring them to the level of profit with one of the prizes.

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These labels distinguish the second generation of Korean culture lovers from the first generation, and instead of inventing labels, people notice similarities in the interests of that category, for example, most of them enjoy drawing manga and anime. “It is true that it is Japanese art, but the convergence of Korean and Japanese cultures also makes me interested in Japanese art,” says Wasan. It has also recently been noted that the Korean language has been mastered among young people, and a large percentage of them have learned it themselves, as well as the reincarnation of Korean artists’ style of clothing, cuts and hair dyes.

Author Faisal Al-Huwail explains the reasons for the rapid spread of Korean culture in the Middle East, including the high percentage of young men and adolescents, especially in Saudi Arabia, where the Statistics Authority stated in 2020 that the percentage of young men and women reached 66.23 percent of the total population, and the other reason is the intensive broadcasting of Arabic channels for Korean drama, and also The similarity of social issues raised by the drama with the local community, such as love between different social classes, or family problems.

‘construction worker culture

In the eighties and nineties, Korean workers, numbering 720,000 at the time, participated in the building and construction works of Saudi government buildings, power lines, landline telephone cables and infrastructure.

After that, South Korea was able to achieve a great and rapid qualitative leap in the course of its economic development, which was represented in the comprehensive revival of its various aspects of life: especially social, political and cultural, as it felt it necessary had to invest more in this sector, so the Ministry of Culture submitted a request to the government to increase its budget, which made the cultural sector rise rapidly, and 300 cultural industry departments are in colleges and universities across the country established.

The Saudis’ interest in Korean culture has increased despite the long distance between the two countries. The number of visitors who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Korea increased to 12 million in 2013, the year that marked the beginning of the Saudis’ indicating interest in Korean culture. , as mentioned by the Korean ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Kim Jin-soo, in an interview published by the embassy’s website.

In 2012, Korea participated as a guest of honor in the “Janadriyah” festival in Riyadh, a heritage and culture festival held in Saudi Arabia since 1985, and the participation took place on the occasion of the half-century of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. “I went to the festival every year, but I didn’t see a turnout like I saw in the year of hosting South Korea,” said Rana, as the festival lasted 16 days and the number of visitors at the Korean pavilion were more than 144,000 people.

In July 2019, the General Authority for Entertainment in Saudi Arabia announced the holding of a party for BTS within the activities of the Riyadh season. 24 hours, and the news was reported by international media, amid shock from the Saudis at the group’s popularity and popularity.

What was impressive about that event, rather than the huge attendance of over 40,000 fans at the King Fahd International Stadium, was the successful organization despite the large number of participants. Nayef, one of the party’s organizers, says: “Despite my previous experience, organizing a (BTS) concert was great compared to other experiences, and the audience was an impressive thing, and I did not miss the attendance of such a large number is not expected. “

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