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The Korean Wave may have risen in the motherland, but it has hit land as far as Indonesia, where businesses lure Korea-smitten consumers with Korean-themed products and services from music to travel.
The Korean Wave, also known as hallyu, is the term given to the surging global fascination with Korean pop culture. The craze has translated into brisk sales of Korean products in markets from the US to Thailand.
Although no figures exist for the economic value in Indonesia of hallyu, Indonesia and Korea have strong trade relations. Indonesia’s import of Korean manufactured goods grew by 39 percent from 2007 to 2011, while Korean foreign direct investment surged 422 percent to US$1.2 billion in 2011, according to data from the Industry Ministry.
And it is the fanfare around Korean pop musicians which concert promoters W Productions and MP Entertainment are banking on as they stage the SMTown World Tour 2012 in Jakarta toward the end of this month.
The show will feature nine of the biggest acts from SMTown — the name given to pop musicians under the SM Entertainment record label — such as Super Junior and Girl’s Generation, who will perform on a soccer field-sized stage for four hours.
MP Entertainment promoter Dani Soegiarso said that the craze for K-Pop stars in Indonesia had meant that around 40 percent of the 30,000 tickets were sold before the scheduled date of the concert. “We’re selling tickets priced between Rp 550,000 [$58] and Rp 2.5 million, with 90 percent of them costing less than Rp 1.4 million,” he said.
Sean Sudwikatmono, the managing director of W Productions, said that the K-Pop fan base in Indonesia was massive, which was what convinced SMTown to perform here.
ELF Indonesia, the fan club for K-Pop group Super Junior, has close to 70,000 followers on Twitter while ELF Thailand Twitter followers number slightly above 6,000.
Concert promoters are not the only ones riding the hallyu wave. The stronger demand for anything hallyu has meant better business for music producers, who are flooding the market with K-Pop-inspired acts. Irza Rifai, the general manager of Tarra Artist Management who oversees K-Pop-inspired Indonesian girl band Cherrybelle, said that the group was in high demand even though it was only launched last year.
The group has already received endorsements from 10 brands, and is fully booked for performances until the beginning of next year.
“For us, Cherrybelle is not a girl band, but a product with its own distinct brand,” he said, regarding the management concept behind the group. “We are now working on releasing a clothing line and false eyelashes sporting the Cherrybelle name,” he added.
Nico Andries, an executive producer at television station SCTV, said that the K-Pop craze was a phenomenon that the station saw great value in having created the program Boy and Girl Band Indonesia, which pitted K-Pop-inspired bands against each other.
The show, which wrapped up earlier this year and will begin a second season in December, was one of the station’s highest-rated shows, capturing 20 percent of prime-time viewers.
These good ratings brought commercial sponsorship and 12-minute of advertising, worth up to Rp 20 million per 30-second spot, aired throughout the show.
The salon chain Johnny Andrean is also cashing in on K-Pop, introducing K-Pop-inspired haircuts and hair coloring. Astrid Hendrawati Sasongko, the chain’s brand manager, said that females aged between 18 and 25, or “first jobbers”, were the main clientèle for the salon’s hallyu-inspired haircuts and colors, which cost up to Rp 115,000 per service.
Hollywood stars had long been the style reference for Indonesia, said Astrid. “But from 2010, Korea has been the reference not only for us, but also the world,” she said.
There are, of course, hallyu lovers who want to experience Korea first hand — a boon for travel agents.
Panorama Tours, one of the largest tour operators in Indonesia, reports that business for their South Korea tour packages has grown by 40 percent every year.
The popularity of trips to South Korea has led the Transportation Ministry to increase Jakarta–Seoul slots to 23 flights per week from the current 10, as of next March.
“Last year, we flew out 1,800 leisure travelers. In addition, we had 1,500 corporate-incentive passengers,” Meity Monica, Panorama’s managing director of leisure management, said.
“South Korea is a booming destination. Even during the low season, 10 to 30 groups will travel there,” she said, adding that the country was among the top five tour destinations.
The tour agency has added eight more South Korea tour packages on top of their current nine. The tours cost up to $2,000 depending on the season.