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Su Zheng






Initiated by the regional popularity of Korean TV dramas and pop music in the late 1990s, the emergence of hallyu (Korean Wave) marks a significant moment in the cultural annals of South Korea, having situated the country as pop culture provider to international audiences. This dissertation investigates the hallyu phenomenon and what it means for a contemporary South Korea that is dynamically reforming its cultural identity through cultural forms originally from outside its borders. The study focuses on the TV dramas that have been at the fore of hallyu, paying specific attention to the music soundtracks of these dramas and how they work to express hallyu’s mode of being globally Korean. Through an examination of specific Korean TV dramas, I show how music plays a crucial role not only in the storytelling of contemporary Korean TV dramas, but also in preserving and accentuating a sense of Koreanness through their stories. In this sense, the dissertation has the dual aims of coming to an understanding of hallyu and analyzing music in the contemporary Korean TV drama, and it can be seen as a way of seeing, or hearing, hallyu through the music of Korean TV dramas. This study expands discussions on Korean music, specifically in the pop music arena, and contributes to a growing interest in film and media music within ethnomusicology.



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