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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Katheryn Maguire

Abstract

In the mid-1990s, the South Korean government and culture industries embarked on a campaign to promote Korean pop culture, tangible goods, and tourism along with the country’s national identity abroad as a unified brand. Today, Hallyu, meaning the Korean Wave, is a phenomenon with an estimated 80 million fans spread out across the globe including a growing and fervent fan community in the United States. The purpose of this complete member ethnography (CME) informed by the hermeneutic phenomenology of communication (HPC) is to explore the identities of non-Korean members of Korean Meetup Groups formed through the social networking site, Meetup.com. The findings suggest that Korean culture appeals to this group of Koreanophiles, fans of Korean culture, because it combines Eastern and Western elements, because Korean history is sometimes relatable, and because particular morals and values resonate. For this group, consuming and participating in Korean culture fulfills needs unmet by U.S. culture, and Korean culture both reflects and (re)constructs the ways in which they view and present themselves.

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