Peace through pop-culture

Japan, South Korea and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the regional leaders of East Asia are defined by their differing cultures, languages and their exceptionally tumultuous history. These issues are the primary the basis of the separation and tension that exists between the nations. However, with the rise of cultural hybridization due to globalisation, a new bridge in the form of cinema and pop culture is evolving. Ryoo Woongjae suggested that ‘the [success of the] South Korean film ‘Winter Sonata’ did more politically for South Korea and Japan than the co-hosting of the FIFA World Cup (R. Woongjae, 2009)’. With media transcending borders and blurring culture differences in the region, can pop-culture and cinema help to soften the divide between the nations?


Examples of the tension existing within the region today can be seen in the three countries opposing territorial disputes in the South China Sea or the friction caused by the Japanese Occupation of Korea in WWII with Japan even recalling their ambassadors from S. Korea just this year over the dispute (Japan Times, 2017). Traditionally this political strain has carried over to the nations respective media industries with films portraying their neighbours as the antagonists such South Korea’s anti-communist trends (H. Lee, 2000, pp. 48-51) or the anti-Japanese Genre that developed in China post WW2. Until 1998, Japanese performances were even banned in South Korea for fear of the ‘invasion’ of foreign culture (J. Jung, 2015, pp 730-731).


The rise of the internet along with the decline of state censorship and nationalism allowed for greater cultural exchanges through mediums such as online streaming services that provide an unprecedented level of music, film and media content. Last year ‘Your name’, a Japanese Anime feature film became the highest grossing Japanese Film in China when it grossed US$78 Million in the Chinese box office (SBS,2016). This rare screening of a Japanese film in Chinas restricted film industry shows the increasing infiltration of foreign culture through media.


South Korea’s rise to popular culture dominance known as ‘the Korean Wave’ is one of the most successful cultural phenomena’s the world has seen. Aided by the globalisation of media; Koreas film, music and media industries saw a dramatic boom. With cultural similarities to that of Japanese Pop (J-Pop), Korean Pop (K-Pop) swept up South Asia and become a universally known genre. Japanese and Chinese audiences became some of the largest consumers of content that the new founded cultural hub of South Korean was producing (pp 139).


2.9 Billion Views – K-Pop icon PSY’s GANGNAM STYLE


Super Junior, a K-pop boy band which recently gained 117 million views for their song ‘Mr Simple’ (YouTube, 2017), has capitalised on the globalisation of media and success of the Korean Wave. The band consists not only of Korean nations however also of Canadian and Chinese members, a concept that would have been impossible some 20 years ago. Performing in both Mandarin and Korean, the band is an example of cross cultural hybridization through globalisation and the success that can be attributed to it.


With popular culture trends such as K-pop reaching such a large global following, globalisation and the associated cultural hybridization accompanying it can potentially be of massive economic and cultural benefit to the countries of the South Asia Region. Cultural hybridization between the nations opens not only the possibility to strengthen countries cultural status, however, may also prove to improve the tense relations between the region’s populations.







Nelson, K. 2015, China suspends WWII drama after complaints, The Shanghaiist, 22 May, Viewed 20 August 2017,

Hillslearning, 2013, the Korean explosion, viewed 18 August 2017,

Hyangjin, L. Contemporary Korean Cinema: Culture, Identity and Politics, Manchester University Press, UK, 2000

Jung, J. A Historical Consideration into Two Perspectives on Culture Revealed in the New Korean Wave Discourse, International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, vol. 5, no. 8, pp. 730-731

SBS PopAsia HQ, 2016, ‘Your Name’ is now the all-time No.1 Japanese film in China, viewed 15 August 2017,

Wall Paper Cave, PSY Wallpapers, Viewed 20 August 2017,

Web-Japan, 1998, BREAKING THE ICE: South Korea Lifts Ban on Japanese Culture, viewed 19 August 2017,

Woongjae, R. 2009, ‘Globalization, or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave’, Asian journal of communication, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 137-151


Students for Sale


Driven to Australia with the promise of excellent living conditions, high minimum wages and a highly-esteemed education, international students are heading to Australian in numbers larger than ever before.  As of July 2017, over 500 000 international students were studying in Australia, a number 14% higher than that of the same month the previous year (Department of Education and Training, 2017). With the financial and legal stresses accompanying many of those currently studying abroad in Australia, a commonplace practice of illicit pay and conditions of a vulnerable and underrepresented minority in Australian has developed.

Along with the recent pay scandals involving 7-Eleven that affected some 20,000 workers (SBS, 2016), a recent survey from the University of Sydney Business School found that 90% of international students working in the retail industry were being underpaid by their employers (The University of Sydney Business School, 2016). Dr Stephen Clibbon, the survey’s director, found that poor language skills, a lack of understanding of workplace rights and standards along with the abundance of students in need of work were key factors leading to the underpayment and exploitation of international students (The University of Sydney Business School, 2016).

The current international student VISA’s permits 40 hours per week whilst studying (Dept. of Immigration and Border Protection, 2017). With many students earning as low as $8 per hour, working extra hours becomes a necessity to afford the high cost of living in Australia’s major cities. To put it in perspective $8 per hour would see a student earning $80 per week under the current VISA permit whilst the University of NSW place the cost of living in Sydney in a share house around $476-$576 (University of NSW,2017). Earning $8 per hour it would take a student over 60 hours a week to just break even with their basic living costs, not taking into account health care and education costs.

With many students forced into working well out of their VISA permits, a catch 22 is presented in which students feel they will not only lose their jobs however also become liable themselves if they approach the authorities. Pranay Alawala, a former worker who was exploited and underpaid by 7-Eleven, told SBS News ‘everyone is scared of deportation’ (SBS, 2016) a fear that many businesses are aware of and actively use to their advantage.

The rampant exploitation of international students in Australia is at risk of spoiling our reputation as not only a global education hub however also as a country that values equality and civil rights. It is in the private education sector and the governments’ interest to ensure students do not feel threated and understand their workplace rights to maintain the $19 billion industries value (Universities of Australia, 2016). Until proper education of workplace rights along with assistance networks are made available, employers will continue to profit on the vulnerability of international students.



Bibliography :

Department of Education and Training, 2017, International Student Data Monthly Summary June 2017 Report, Canberra viewed 12 August 2017,

Ministers of Education, Australia’s international education sector worth more than previously estimated, Viewed 8 August 2017,

University of NSW, 2017,  Approximate weekly costs, Viewed 10 August 2017,

Universities Australia, International education generates a record 20.3 billion for Australia, Viewed 10 August 2017,–20-3-billion-for-Australia#.WZakxZOg8_U

The Digital Divide


Featured Image: (J. Stanmeyer/VII, 2013)

As we move into the age of globalization, information is being shared and produced at an unprecedented level. The prospect of bridging the gap between the developed world and the developing world looks ever closer. The term ‘Global Village’ refers to this concept as ‘the world viewed as a community in which distance and isolation have been dramatically reduced by electronic media (Merriam Webster, 2017)’. However, are we truly heading towards a utopian global community, or is the information age creating a further divide between those with big data power and those without?

‘Information technology is to this revolution what new sources of energy were to the successive industrial revolutions’ (Manuel Castells, 2010, pp. 33)

O’Shaughnessy discussed the issue of the developing world & its relationship with globalisation in ‘Globalisation’ in Media and society’ commenting on the ‘debilitating effect of the digital divide on developing nations (O’Shaughnessy, 2012, pp. 465).’ O’Shaughnessy also mentioned the implications of not being connected to an economy that is driven by data (O’Shaughnessy, 2012, pp. 465).’ Two industries that could dramatically affect the impacts of globalisation on the developing world are the thriving information and community technology (ICT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries.

The ICT industry is quickly becoming an integral part of the global economy with the US experiencing ‘an average annual growth rate of over 4% a year, almost 3 times that of overall business sector employment (OECD, Measuring the Information Economy, p24)’. In a world which is increasingly placing value on its ICT capabilities, developing nations which often do not have not the infrastructure or economic stability required to invest in ICT are at increasing risk of becoming more isolated. The disparity between the developed and the developing digital capability is staggering with ‘98.5 per cent of Korean homes connected compared to 2 per cent of the populations in Guinea, Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea (UN,2017)’. Known as information poverty (O’Shaughnessy, 2012, pp. 465), this issue may be furthering the isolation of developing countries and limiting international trade and economic growth of the nations.

With the rise in minimum wages, globalization of corporations and increase in demand for human resource roles, both international and domestic marketplaces are increasingly looking to fulfil new roles utilizing business process outsourcing (BPO). With lower labour costs countries such as the Philippines and India have quickly become hubs in the BPO marketplace. In 2016, the Philippine’s BPO industry was estimated to have employed over 1 Million Filipinos whilst representing 8% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) Lee, Vári-Kovács and Q Yu, 2014, P23). However, the BPO industry is largely dominated by the call centre sector, accounting for almost 70% of industry employment (N. Magtibay-Ramos, G. Estrada, and J. Felipe, 2007, P2). Furthermore, with the increased use of AI and automation by corporations to take on roles such as call centre support, the decline of the BPO industry may begin just as quickly as it rose in the globalized marketplace. These BPO hubs will need to rely on their ability to keep up with trends in the ICT industry along with re-skilling into more technical roles as AI integration manifests its place in the industry to maintain their foothold in the BPO industry.

Whilst currently there is a market for the outsourcing of jobs to developing countries, investment in higher skilled ICT and HR services may be required as AI integration manifests its place in the industry. Without a competitive communications network and ICT industry, the gap between the developing and developed world looks to be increasingly divided by not only the nation’s economies but also their ability to play a role in the global marketplace.




Castells, M. 2010, The Rise of the Network Society, 2nd edition, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp. 33

Linked In, 2017, Accenture, viewed 14 August 2017,

Lee, A., Vári-Kovács, Z. and Q Yu, S. 2014. Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines. Microsoft Case Studies Series on Information Technology, Public Policy and Society. Philipines: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, pp. P23.

Magtibay-Ramos, N. Estrada, G. and Felipe, J. 2007 An Analysis of the Philippine Business Process Outsourcing Industry, Economics and Research Department Working Paper Series No.93, Asian Development Bank, pp. 2.

O’Shaughnessy, M. 2012, ‘Globalisation’ in Media and society, 5th edition, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic, pp. 465

Stanmeyer, J /VII, 2013 Calmness, image, World Press Photo, viewed 10 August 2017,