Redefine Korea Image in Indonesia
I graduated from one of university in East Java Indonesia with International Relation major. There is a Korea Study Centre in my university sponsored by KOICA that provide with a various kinds of Korea related materials from books, paintings, to movie dvds. That was my first time to find a complete reference about Korean culture, history, language, even Korean cooking books. It helps me a lot to understand Korea from much different perspective. During my years in the university, I participated actively in Indonesia – Korean Culture Club at Brawijaya University or we call it Inkobaragi UB. Our club activity mainly consists of Korean language learning for Indonesian students and Indonesian language learning for Korean exchange students. We also discuss about our cultural different, values and other experiences to enrich our perspective and knowledge. Personally I really enjoy our sharing time, through that way I can feel the real cultural exchange experience. Now I graduated and have to move back to my hometown in Madura Island, 925 km far from Jakarta to pursue my career in Sumenep Cultural and Tourism Department. The biggest different that I feel while living here is, while there are some people who know about Korean drama and boy or girl group, most of the people can non even distinguish between Korea, China and Japan. I find a hard time to talk and discuss about Korea like what I used to do in my collage years.
There is no word that can describe Indonesia better than “diverse”. It also works on how Indonesians depict the image of Korea. Indonesia is known for its diversity with many culture, religions, and languages therefore to describe the image of Korea in Indonesia is quite challenging. A worker in Jakarta perhaps know Korea as a developed country with an advance technology, a Hallyu fans know Korea with their shining and popular Kpop group. Different answer will be found if we ask maybe a housewife who lives in Sulawesi or any other regions that are unfamiliar with Korea. For people who live in big city like Jakarta or Surabaya they have easier access to Korean materials and products than people who live in much smaller area. In Indonesia, image of Korea depends on where you live and how close you with Korean institutional like university who taught Korean Language or Korean Culture Centre.
Korean Wave or Hallyu is quite booming in Indonesia, day by day there are many people who familiar with BTS or Twice. Korean food can easily found with Tteokpokki and Chicken Buldak as popular choice, Korean instant noodle available in most of Indonesian convenient store across the nation. Nowadays, our cinema also screen some of Korean Movies like The Parasite and Along with The Gods. The numbers of people who use Korean Beauty products show a significant increase through years with many Korean beauty brands opening their store branch in Indonesia. Off course all of them are good things, but from what I think with the big enthusiasm in Hallyu will raise a large bias toward Korea image in Indonesia. Indonesian people will only know Korea from one side, they think Korea as a country that popular with their pop culture while Korean history, cultural values, economic and political interest still unknown to the most of Indonesian people. This leaves a big homework to redefine image of Korea in Indonesia.
I see this issue both as a concern and also a challenge. We need to find a new way and method to renew the image of Korea in Indonesia. Addressing the problem above, I think a new approach that not centered and reach to every part of Indonesia is YouTube. Indonesia is a big internet user country. According to Statista website the number of social media user in Indonesia rank in fifth after China, India, United States and Brazil by 2018. The number will keep growing years ahead. Books, publications, and other form of mass media are an old way to deliver news and creating public opinion. In Indonesia, news spread rapidly in social media accounts rather than national television or newspaper. We cannot argue to the effectiveness of internet in term of reaching out to the people in real time basis.
When we talk about penetration of social media in Indonesia, YouTube place in first place as a leading social media and have a big number of users that will be shown in the graphic bellow:
YouTube user keep growing in Indonesia with the increasing of various contents. I see YouTube can be a strategic tool to reshape image of Korea in Indonesia. In the recent years, contents related to Korea start to become popular and trending in Indonesia YouTube. Korea travel vlogs, Korean product review, mukbang, and even Korean Language online learning can be easily found in YouTube. I noticed many Indonesian people who live in Korea starting to open their YouTube channel to show how their daily life in Korea. They display how the real life in Korea from Indonesian perspective, from their work place, how they shop in traditional market, Korea transportation system, education in Korea, to their interaction with Korean friends or family. The number of their subscribers show how big Indonesian interest in content related to Korea. I think this is a new method to show the real life of Korea including Korean culture, values, and way of life.
I will give two examples of Indonesian YouTubers who live in Korea and create content about it. First “Amelicano”, Amelia Tantono start her YouTube channel in 2017 and now she hit 246.976 subscribers and 12.589.934 in viewers number. Her video mainly tell about her daily life as Youtuber and a worker in Korea company. She give her viewers tips how to life in Korea as a foreigner for explample like housing in korea, Korean system of waste management, Korean Language up to travel vlogs to many place in Korea like Jeonju, Ansong, Naejangsan, Gapyeong and many more. From her channel we learn many useful things especially for Indonesia who want to life in Korea, she also display a real interaction when she hanging out with her Korean friends. She portrayed a fun experience living in Korea and the challange she face. Her travel vlogs to some of Korea regions inform the viewers about Korea attraction outside Seoul and Jeju. I think those kinds of videos are very interesting because most of Indonesian only know Seoul and Jeju as their travel destinations.
“Zhiee Leely” channel owned by an Indonesian woman who live in Korea with her husband. Now she has 303.479 subscribers and 38.240.719 total viewers. What make her unique as a YouTuber who lives in Korea that she wear hijabs like most of Indonesian muslim women, this will be deliver a strong message that Korea really welcome a hijabers in everyday live not only tourist who visit Korea in a short among of time. Most of her video tells the viewers about her daily life as a housewife and a factory worker in Korea She filmed her Korea grocery times while comparing it to Indonesia market, she give detail explanation in easy way. She also feature many Koreans in her video and try to have a conversation with them. Zhiee shared her Korean life from a factory worker perspective and I think many Indonesian people will find her story relatable considering many Indonesian migrant workers in Korea work in factories. From her videos, Indonesian will start to think that Korea as a friendly neighbor country that have many similarities with Indonesia.
Some Korean Youtubers also provide content about Korea from the Korean perspective with Indonesian viewers as their target subscribers where they provide Bahasa Indonesia in their subtitle like “Korea Reomit” with 1.7 millions subscribers and “Bandung Oppa” with 347.290 subscribers. This show us that Youtube play a big role in portraying an image of one country to people around the world. While “Amelicano” portray Korea as a fun country to explore , “Zhiee Leely” show Korea in more real way as a worker from Indonesia with her own struggle. I think both of them have a crucial part in shaping how Indonesian view Korea as a whole. YouTube help Indonesian to understand Korea better in a real way and former bias toward Hallyu as Korea Image in Indonesia will be decreasing following with many different kind of Korea contents in YouTube. I am sure nowadays many Indonesian have a better understanding about Korea Culture and daily life values. From my point of view Korea Government must see this as a good opportunity to redefine how Korea image is depicted in Indonesia by embracing both Youtubers with Korea related content in their channel. Korea Government need to seize the moment and start to collaborating with contents creators in social media.
(Country of Activity : Indonesia)