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2010/01/13 18:00 KST
Korean Wave actor, girl group receive government awards

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- Actor Song Seung-heon and pop group Girls' Generation received accolades from the government on Wednesday for their contributions to South Korea's pop culture industry and the Korean Wave boom across Asia.

   The minister of culture, sports and tourism, Yu In-chon, awarded the annual Distinguished Korean Wave Entertainer Award to the entertainers in a ceremony attended by some 150 entertainment industry figures and lawmakers.

   "The global expansion of Korean Wave content not only increased economic value-added profits to the industry but also contributed to enhancing the prestige of the nation," Yu said in a speech before the award ceremony.

   Korean Wave, or "Hallyu" in Korean, refers to the widespread popularity of South Korean culture and entertainment around the world, especially in Asia. The boom is believed to have begun with television dramas and pop music in the late 1990s and now encompasses a broader range of content including films and computer games.

   Since their 2007 debut, Girls' Generation, the nine-member all-female group, called "Sonyeosidae" in Korean, has enjoyed phenomenal success with hit songs like "Gee" and "Genie (Sowoneul Malhaebwa)" and lead roles in TV shows and commercials, spearheading the girl group boom in South Korea. The group represented South Korea in Thailand's Pattaya International Music Festival last year and has topped various music charts in Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines.

   Song, the model-turned-actor, is an established name in the Korean Wave with leads in various popular television drama series aired across Asia, mostly recently "East of Eden," a tale of two men whose fates become entangled at birth.

   South Korea aims to increase exports of its arts and other cultural content to US$3.8 billion and gross sales to $64 billion this year. The figures in 2008 were $2.4 billion and $57 billion respectively, according to culture ministry data. Last year's data will be released later this month.

   hkim@yna.co.kr
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