Digital Media-Liberation of Cultural Contact

Screen shot from Korean Englishman Youtube channel

Avengers, Fantastic Beasts, Incredibles. These are the most popular movies in Korea for the past few months. As we can see, the development of media has allowed different cultures to contact and merge. As liberation of time and space of culture has happened, communication between cultures is now inevitable. A good example would be Youtube channels that focuses on introducing foreign cultures. In Korea, such channels are a big hit. I would like to introduce you to one of them, and give a discussion question to think about.

The channel that I want to introduce is Korean English Man(영국남자). In this channel, Josh, an English man introduces Korean culture to his friends in the UK. This is a result of a foreigner dissolving Korean culture to the point where he can introduce it to others himself. For example, in one episode, he visited my university’s (Korea University) festival with his friends from the UK to let them experience ‘his’ culture. This phenomenon is referred to cultural hybridity. It might look complicated, but it simply means that cultures come together making the border between us and them vague.

Cultural hybridity, commonly shown through Youtube channels, is a natural process of digitalizing media. Yet, we have to face its danger of ego confusion. As continuous contact of cultures causes the breakdown of dichotomy way of thinking dividing us and them, one can fall in to a question of who he/she actually is. Therefore, to stop this uneasiness, some scholars say it is time to move on to mutual nationalism. Mutual nationalism can be defined as combining different cultures to make a new one. However, this make it is easy to lose one’s original culture and the cultures built until now becomes meaningless.

So what do you say? Should we continue to divide among us as us and them, confusing ourselves through the endless contact of other cultures? Or should we accept other culture as us, agreeing to lose our own culture?

References: Korean Englishman Youtube channel, 
Identity and Difference in a Globalized World-Alberto Melucci, 
Ethnicity, Gender Relations and Multiculturalism-Nira Yuval-Davis