How the spread of Asian popular culture contributed to a positive Pan-Asian identity
When talking about Asian culture, the first thing that comes to mind might be the ancient Silk Road through which people traded spices for delicate silk. That sure is part of the impression people have of Asia, but it's far from being everything.
For the past decades, the more modernized Asian popular culture had been catching up with the world and gained huge influence globally. Young Asians, who were previously attracted by Western popular cultures, have then been looking back to Asian cultural products, with which they have more of a connection.
Within Asia, you can find some Japanese teenagers are learning Korean in the hope to become a trainee in a S. Korean entertainment agency that may help them to become a star. Young Chinese are following S. Korean TV shows because of the romantic promise it gives: Even an ordinary girl can grab the attention of a tall and handsome conglomerate heir. Young people from Vietnam and Thailand are sitting in front of the television every night to follow a historical Chinese drama, indulging themselves in ancient China's delicate costumes and complicated love affairs between former emperors and their concubines.
The spread of Asian popular culture highlights the changing attitudes of the younger generation of Asians to their neighbors. Through the shared interest in popular culture, those Asian countries effectively form positive relationships with one another since a common ground found in music and movies can certainly engender a sense of goodwill for one another.
Besides, the spread of Asian popular culture brought huge economic gains. Take the Korean Wave (a collective culture encompassing everything from music, movies to drama) for example: the Korean Wave contributed 0.2 percent of Korea's GDP in 2004, approximately 1.87 billion U.S. dollars. More recently in 2014, the Korean Wave had an estimated 11.6 billion U.S. dollars boost on South Korean economy.
Besides the traditional Korean and Japanese popular culture, there are some waves of newly emerging Asian cultural products in the region, which not only generated economic gains but also enriched the entertainment sector.
China's export of TV dramas reached 510 million yuan (77.8 million U.S. dollars) in 2016, jumping from 380 million U.S. dollars in 2015, according to a China Daily report on December 2017.
With more Chinese-made TV shows introduced overseas, China's television shows have gained an increasing number of foreign fans, especially Chinese historical dramas based on traditional Chinese culture, such as "Empresses in the Palace" (2011), a historical drama that tells the story of Zhen Huan, who was chosen to be Emperor Yongzheng's concubine in ancient China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and her survival in a palace full of cunning plots and deceit.
The 76-episode TV series was broadcast in S. Korea and Japan. It was also condensed into a six-episode mini-series for Netflix in 2015.
A Thai Wave is also sweeping across Asia. Thai horror flicks have been gaining popularity in Southeast Asian countries, and in recent years, the Thai cinema industry has been trying to conquer more territory, especially in China, the world's second-largest cinema market, with its movies.
Take the Thai movie Bad Genius (2017) – the distributor grossed over 42.6 million U.S. dollars in China.
 According to a report by Nikkei Asian Review, the First Secretary at the Thai Embassy in Beijing Sa-ngopkarn Moungthong attributed the rise of the Thai Wave in China to the Belt and Road Initiative, which deepened cultural exchanges between China and Southeast Asia.