Cultural Technology

Cultural technology (Hangul????) is a system used by South Korean talent agencies to promote Korean pop culture throughout the world as part of the Korean Wave. The system was developed by Lee Soo-man, founder of S.M. Entertainment, one of the largest talent agencies in South Korea.[1][2]


During a speech at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2011, Lee said he coined the term "cultural technology" about fourteen years prior, when S.M. Entertainment decided to promote its K-pop artists to all of Asia.[2] In the late 1990s, Lee and his colleagues created a manual on cultural technology, which specified the steps needed to popularize K-pop artists outside of South Korea.

"The manual, which all S.M. employees are instructed to learn, explains when to bring in foreign composers, producers, and choreographers; what chord progressions to use in what country; the precise color of eyeshadow a performer should wear in a particular country; the exact hand gestures he or she should make; and the camera angles to be used in the videos (a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree group shot to open the video, followed by a montage of individual closeups)," according to The New Yorker.[2]

Three stages of globalization

According to Lee, there are three stages necessary to popularize Korean culture outside of South Korea: exporting the product, collaborating with international companies to expand the product's presence abroad, and finally creating a joint venture with international companies.[3] As part of their joint ventures with international companies, South Korean talent agencies may hire foreign composers, producers, and choreographers to ensure K-pop songs feel "local" to foreign countries.[1]

Disputed origin of the term

Despite Lee's claim that he coined the term "cultural technology," South Korean computer scientist Kwangyun Wohn said he coined the term "culture technology" in 1994.[4] Cultural technology has also been one of six technology initiatives of the South Korean government since 2001.[] In regards to cultural technology, the Korean Wave is considered one of the most successful outcomes of government support of exporting Korean entertainment products.[]

See also


  1. ^ a b Chang, Dae Ryun; Choi, Kyongon (2011-07-21). "What Marketers Can Learn from Korean Pop Music". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ a b c Seabrook, John (2012-10-08). "Factory Girls: Cultural technology and the making of K-pop". The New Yorker. Retrieved . 
  3. ^ Chung, Min-uck (2011-06-12). "Lee reveals know-how of hallyu". Korea Times. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ "Asia-Pacific Advanced Network 36th Meeting: Professor Kwangyun Wohn". Asia-Pacific Advanced Network. Retrieved . 

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