Are we seeing the start of a new cultural evolution in Japan?

Japan and South Korea share very few similarities when it comes to pop culture and fashion trends. Different local tastes have even cause their makeup to be worlds apart. Nevertheless that hasn’t stopped either side from appreciating trends from the other.

In the case of Japan, it seems there’s been a gradual increase among teenagers who love all things Korean, evidenced by the fact that the Japanese hashtag #IWantToBeKorean has recorded over 7,000 hits on Instagram, while #KoreaLoversUnite has racked up over 360,000 hits.

Japanese news website J-cast asserts that exposure to South Korean’s unique culture all began 15 years ago with the wildly popular drama, Winter Sonata. Girls’ Generation, KARA, and TVXQ then helped spread the K-pop fad that swept the nation.

▼ Karaoke might have played a part in it too.

The latest craze came from TWICE, a nine-member Korean girl group which despite not having debuted in Japan at all in late 2016, made their way into the tenth spot of the weekly Oricon album rankings (Japan’s version of the U.S. Billboard charts). TWICE’s eventual Japan debut in June 2017 saw its Best Album and debut single skyrocket to the number one spot uncontested. J-cast attributes their phenomenal success to overwhelming support from Japanese junior high school girls.

While K-pop no doubt played a huge part in making Japanese teenagers fall in love with Korea, it was the country’s chic fashion style that kept them hungry for more.

▼ South Korean women’s fashion tends to emphasize mature sexiness.

A survey conducted by youth fashion trend watcher FRIL lab revealed that an overwhelming 47.9 percent of teens between 10 to 19 years old found fashion inspiration from Korea, and up to 27.5 percent of adults in their 20s do (1,700 respondents).

▼ What will this spell for Japan’s future?

This could possibly be a classic case of the grass being greener on South Korea’s lawn, but one thing’s for certain: we’re witnessing the beginnings of an evolution in Japan’s culture thanks in no small part to its hip neighbor. Will we see a repeat of last week’s incredibly uneven collaboration between AKB48 and Korean idol groups again in the future?

Only time will tell.

Source: J-cast via Hachima Kiko
Images: Pakutaso (12, 3)