Surfing the Korean wave: A Postcolonial critique of the mythologized middlebrow consumer culture in Asia

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– The purpose of this study is to present a theoretical framework to demythologize Asian consumers' cultural and ideological narratives in relation to the newly emerging popular culture developed in Korea, widely known as “Korean wave.” In addition, methodological considerations for the understudied consumption phenomenon are also discussed.


– From the extant literature on popular culture and globalization, a theoretical overview of Korean popular culture (KPC) is provided. Subsequently, a condensed presentation of netnography employing critical discourse analysis (CDA) is provided.


– A netnography fused with CDA suggests a reflexive process in which a range of sociocultural tensions in the globalization process of KPC dynamically hybridize and transform into new cultural tastes in respective cultures.

Research limitations/implications

– Cultural branding can be revisited, as the new discourse generated in Asia envisions new entries into the global brandscape. Moreover, this endeavor helps explicate how a globalized trend is replaced with another through a paradoxical discursive process.


– As this article discusses popular culture as a product to be consumed just as are other tangible products, it assists researchers in visualizing and theorizing about the globalization process of incorporeal, cultural products. The application of discursively enriched netnography facilitates pertinent analysis and ultimately theory‐building.

Publisher's Statement

© Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2013. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13522751311289767

Publication Title

Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal