Asia Minute: Big Week for South Korean “Soft Power”

Mar 5, 2021

It’s been another eventful week for news, but not all of it concerns the coronavirus. South Korea marked a pair of events this week that show its growing “soft power”-or influence on the global stage.

The week began with the South Korean film “Minari” winning the best foreign language film prize at the Golden Globes.

It’s an immigration story — the tale of a South Korean family that moves to a farm in Arkansas in the 1980’s – taking its name from a Korean herb that can adapt to a variety of conditions and climates.

Last year, the South Korean film “Parasite” took four Oscars — including best picture.

This year, nominations for the Oscars will be out a week from Monday.

While the entertainment spotlight fell on South Korean films at the start of this week, it closed out with news on South Korean music — or at least K-pop.

Boy band BTS was named the bestselling artist of 2020 by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry — a business group founded in 1933 that calls itself “the voice of the recording industry worldwide.”

BTS beat out Taylor Swift and Drake, becoming the first non-Western act to take top place, and the first group whose songs are not predominantly sung in English.

Also this week, the Korea Foundation announced the University of Sheffield has become the first in Britain to adopt a program called “Learn Korean with BTS.” That Korean export is already in use at universities in France, Vietnam and the United States – with plans to soon expand to Japan.