Cultural technology

Cultural technology (Hangul: 문화기술); CT) or cultural contents technology(Hangul: 문화콘텐츠기술) is a concept popularized by Lee Soo-man, founder of the South Korean music label and talent agency S. M. Entertainment.[1] It is a 3-step process of exporting K-pop overseas as part of the Korean Wave.


During a speech at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2011, Lee claimed that he coined the term "Cultural technology" about fourteen years ago, when S.M. decided to launch its artists and cultural content throughout Asia. He also mentioned that although the age of information technology had dominated most of the nineties, he had predicted that the age of "Cultural technology" would come next.[2]


Despite Lee's relatively recent claims that he coined the term, the abstract concept of cultural technology (CT) as a type of content-based industry was introduced in Korean academic circles in the late 1990s by Kwangyun Wohn, a computer scientist who later found the Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST.[3][4] Cultural technology has also been one of the 6 "technology" initiatives of the South Korean government since 2001 [the other 5 T's are information technology (IT), biotechnology (BT), nanotechnology (NT), environmental/energy technology (ET), and space technology (ST)}.[5] The South Korean government supports these six industries through policies and R&D investment among others because the country lacks in natural resources.[6] In regards to cultural technology, the Korean Wave or Hallyu, is considered one of the most successful outcomes of government support towards exports of Korean entertainment products.

Three step process

“One of the elements of CT ["Cultural technology"] is our training system.
Through auditions, we discover hidden talent and put them through
three to seven years of music, dance, and acting training in order to
create a star that’s close to perfection.

Lee Soo-Man, the founder of S. M. Entertainment[7]

Training process

Step one involves scouting for trainees via global auditions. After screening a few selected applicants, the company operates the simulation of how the voice and the appearance of the trainees would change in three to seven years. Then, they go through the company’s nurturing system called "In-house training".

According to The Wall Street Journal, S.M. Entertainment and other South Korean entertainment management companies have created a systematic process to train singers and dancers in its groups. In many cases, would-be idols enter the system at age nine or ten and live together in a house under tight rules. They attend school during the day and take singing and choreography classes at night.[8] After going through years of training, it is hoped that these artists would break into foreign music markets, especially Japan and the West.

Along with Lee's SM Entertainment, the South Korean record label YG Entertainment has also developed a type of cultural technology that is minutely controlled. Singers are recruited while in their teens, and then trained for years, rigorously schooled in singing and dancing. About 10 per cent will end up with a successful debut record, alongside a team of bandmates who have been carefully selected to make up the ideal line-up of "attractive faces".[9]

International collaborations

Step two involves expanding the presence of K-Pop musicians in overseas music markets by teaming up with local entertainment companies and organizing virtual concerts outside South Korea.

Joint ventures

Finally, joint ventures would then be forged with these local companies.[10] According to a blog post published by the Harvard Business Review, "Cultural technology" even goes so far as to assign foreign composers, producers, and choreographers to be used for certain songs to expand the cultural outreach.[11]

See also

External links


  1. "What Marketers Can Learn from Korean Pop Music". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 19 October 2012. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. Seabrook, John. "Cultural technology and the making of K-Pop". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  3. Lee, Jung-myung. "Stage evolves to high-tech". Newsweek. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  4. Park, Geum-ja (Dec. 11, 2001). "New buzz word "CT (Cultural Technology)"". Hankook Ilbo. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  5. Korean government press office special project team. "The five-year economy of the participatory government". Hans Media. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  6. Korean government press office special project team. "The five-year economy of the participatory government". Hans Media. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  7. "Lee Soo Man outlines SM Entertainment's three stages of globalization". Allkpop. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  8. Woo, Jaeyeon (2012-05-03). "Journey to K-Pop Star, 'I Am.' - Korea Real Time - WSJ". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  9. Bailey, John. "Ears tuned to the East". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  10. Chung, Min-uck. "Lee reveals know-how of hallyu". Korea Times. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  11. "What Marketers Can Learn from Korean Pop Music". Havard Business Review. Retrieved 19 October 2012. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
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