A Comparative Analysis of Creative Industries in Greater China and South Korea - Fashion as Case Study

Grant Data
Project Title
A Comparative Analysis of Creative Industries in Greater China and South Korea - Fashion as Case Study
Principal Investigator
Dr Tse, Ho Lun Tommy   (Principal investigator)
Dr Pan Lu   (Co-Investigator)
Dr Hajzlerova Jana   (Co-Investigator)
Dr Shin Solee   (Co-Investigator)
Start Date
Completion Date
Conference Title
Presentation Title
Qualitative Interview, Cultural and Creative Industries, Cultural Politics, Fashion, Greater China, South Korea
Sociology,Cultural Studies / Cultural Policy
Block Grant Earmarked for Research (104)
HKU Project Code
Grant Type
Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research
Funding Year
In view of this, the comparative capacity of Chinese versus South Korean fashion firms in their global successes will be diversely assessed. Their respective processes of producing fashion meanings and cultural identities will be investigated too. Based on the PI’s previous doctoral participant research on Hong Kong and mainland Chinese fashion and media industries and his ongoing TDG research (TDG/1314/11) on celebrity culture and entertainment industry in Asia, the influence of their cultural artifacts and their interrelationships to the socioeconomic, cultural, historical and political environment are deemed significant. "…[T]he cultural industries might be providing more wealth and employment is, of course, significant in itself, but it also has implications for how we understand the relationship between culture, society and economy." (Hesmondhalgh 2013: 6) One insight is that, the universal upsurge of Korean melodrama and celebrities, fashion designers, cosmetic and skincare products, plastic surgery, make-up styles, K-pop, Samsung, etc., can be attributed to the post-Olympic South Korea’s tactful adaptation of the "creative industry apparatus" originated in the West, which enables the development of an effective set of cultural policies and commercial strategies to boost its fashion and entertainment businesses, other creative industries and national/cultural branding successfully under the aura of "Hallyu" (Korean Wave). Also, the intimate connections of Korean popular culture to the peninsula's colonial and postcolonial histories, to the nationalist projects of the military dictatorship, and to the neoliberalism of twenty-first-century South Korea, should also be examined. (Kim & Choe 2014) In the digital media industry, Korean national government tried to mediate the supranational pressure of economic liberalization through national technological standard setting, license control, and venture sector promotion at the local industry level in the 1990s; these policies have shaped a more balanced power relationship between small digital content creators and large publishers in the Korean digital content industry. (Jung 2007) In the recording industry, Korean popular music had experienced great tensions among globalization, localization, nationalism, and political and economic deregulation from 1992 till 2002; in fact, the transnational and intra-regional flows of Korean music videos (as cultural products or symbolic creativity) embody a mediation between the global and the local, and between globalization and nationalism. (Lee 2005) The objective of this exploratory and interdisciplinary study, thus, is to critically examine a wider range of experiences reported by seasoned creative industry practitioners (also named symbolic creators) in the Asian context from an insider’s perspective. The collected interview content will be transcribed into English; relevant photographic references will also be collected from the interviewees. On the one hand, this research can provide key insights for academics to understand Chinese and Korean societies, in addition to their cultural imperialism and globalization, through the lens of fashion and entertainment business paradigms and realities; on the other hand, creative industry practitioners and local policy makers can reflect on the findings in order to strengthen, revise or forgo the strategies and tactics adopted currently. Further insight of how fashion is adopted to manifest a variety of cultural identities and respond to the larger socio-historical change will be acquired. Ultimately, this research will help develop a sophisticated set of cultural theories to manifest the unique ecosystem and apparatus of Asian fashion and creative industries. As a comparative study, this research is critical of various cultural assumptions of the two societies and aims at challenging them with our subsequently developed theoretical paradigm. Overall, this proposed comparative study of fashion and creative industries in Greater China and South Korea will: i) review the structures and development processes of creative industries in the two countries since late 1980s. ii) examine the intersection between the cultural, economic, political, sociohistorical and technological dynamics in the two countries since late 1980s and their own creative industry development. iii) review the actual governmental and cultural policies adopted to boost the creative industries in Greater China and South Korea. iv) discern the interrelationships among the two systems of creative industries. v) juxtapose relevant theories of anthropology, political economy, media & cultural studies and sociology with the data collected through interviews with twelve practitioners and experts in Korean creative industries. vi) examine why the Korean cultural and creative development in general, and particularly in the fashion and entertainment industries, are often perceived and discursively constructed as trendsetting, creative and effective. vii) examine why the Chinese cultural and creative development in general, and particularly in the fashion and entertainment industries, are often perceived and discursively constructed as obsolete, uncreative and ineffective. viii) open up debates on the benchmarks for success of creative industries in Greater China and South Korea. ix) identify appropriate qualitative research methods to study the ecosystem of Asian fashion and creative industries. x) provide a foundation from which further research (ECS/GRF) on the effectiveness and problems of various cultural policies, technological infrastructure and social support in each of the two Asian societies can be conducted.