Rise of the Digital Age in Asia

The Film Industry Transitions

In my previous blog post, I reflected on digital Asia and the film industry, specifically India. I mentioned that due to the rise of technology in recent years Asia is now expanding their media for audiences to access across the globe. The film industry has since experienced a transition due to online streaming services. Streaming movies online is an extremely popular and convenient way for audiences to engage with the film industry. Platforms such as Netflix have forever changed the way audiences stream movies and TV shows. It has also meant that Western audiences now have an opportunity to engage with films produced in other countries like Asia. 

Image of a Korean Film Available on Netflix

The age of transactions reveals how media content from Asia has expanded to new audiences. Anthique (2019) mentions that “the expanding flow of media content had a transformative effect upon popular culture across the region, not only from ‘Western’ material but also from Asian content producers such as South Korea”. Much like the Indian film industry, South Korea is also quite well known around the globe. Shim (2008) highlights that “In 2004 a total of 193 Korean films were exported to 62 countries earning about $52 million USD”. Overall, the rise of the Korean film industry began when the government required all Korean cinemas to screen Korean films for at least 146 days of the year (Byrnes, 2016), which eventually translated across the world.

As I mentioned above, online streaming platforms have forever changed the film industry. Audiences are now able to stream movies from the comfort of their own home. In the past 2 years, people worldwide have been reliant on these streaming platforms due to ongoing COVID restrictions. For instance, “India’s streaming market is expected to grow 31% from 2019 to 2024” (Krishnan, 2021). As a result, this technology has enabled everyone to stay connected with the film industry without having to enter a cinema. 

The Korean Wave (Hallyu)

An example of media content transferring outside of Asia is in the Korean Wave (Hallyu). This refers to the global popularity of South Korea’s economy exporting their creative industries to the world. This includes Korean pop culture, music, TV dramas, movies and entertainment. For example, K-pop is short for Korean popular music. Genres similar to K-pop are “popular culture products tailored to appeal to the widest possible audience beyond the national and regional boundaries” (Kuwahara, 2014). This explains why Korean pop culture has successfully reached an audience outside of South Korea. Antique (2019) also highlights that “it was the role of the Internet as an apparatus of distribution that came to the fore”, without the internet, there would be no flow of content across the region and audiences would only be able to engage with media from their own country. 


Athique, Adrian (2019). Digital Transactions in Asia. Digital Transactions in Asia: Social , Economic and Informational Processes. (pp. 1-22) edited by Adrian Athique and Emma Baulch. New York, NY United States: Routledge.

Shim, D., 2008. The growth of Korean cultural industries and the Korean wave. East Asian pop culture: Analysing the Korean wave, 1, pp.15-32. 

Byrnes, P., 2016. Korea’s booming film industry and what it means for Australian cinema. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/koreas-booming-film-industry-and-what-it-means-for-australian-cinema-20160802-gqj3u7.html 

Krishnan, M., 2021. Covid-19 crisis hits India’s booming film industry hard. [online] RFI. Available at: https://www.rfi.fr/en/culture/20210801-covid-19-crisis-hits-india-s-booming-film-industry-hard-bollywood-culture-television-economy 

Kuwahara, Y. ed., 2014. The Korean wave: Korean popular culture in global context. Springer. Palgrave Macmillan. 

4 thoughts on “Rise of the Digital Age in Asia

  1. Reading your post, I couldn’t help but reflect on the effect these expanding media flows have had on the global film scape. There is something I’ve noticed diminishing in recent years. Big budget Hollywood Adaptions of Foreign Films. Think of the classic adaptions of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) into The Magnificent Seven (1960, 2016). Or more modern instances with Lau’s Internal Affairs(2003) into Scorsese’s’ The Departed(2006) Park Chan-wooks Oldboy (2003) to Spike Lee’s 2016 version of the same name. Ringu (1998) becomes The Ring (2002) and so on.

    With the advent of streaming platforms, we’ve continued to see the gate-keeping power of traditional studios wane (Netflix scored the most nominations of any studio last Oscars). And since, we’ve seen directors granted the opportunity to produce movies in their native markets with a global platform and massive success (e.g., Cuaron with Roma (2018)) or directors like Bong Joon-ho who’ve never had to transition to fully American produced movies for success in the ‘west’. With his Best Picture winner Parasite (2020) being entirely a South Korean Production.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s impossible to talk about the Koran Wave and the role of the Internet as an apparatus of distribution without discussing BTS. Quite frankly, the fact that I am stating this is a statement within itself because I don’t actually know anything about BTS other than the fact that they are everywhere. I have seen them in Buzzfeed videos, I have heard endless talk of them from a Minecraft streamer/Sims YouTuber that I follow, and now I can identify them on merchandise in boba shops.

    Even without me doing any work on my part whatsoever the internet did its thing as “the major conduit for the circulation of intangible goods” and brought me BTS. This is utterly impressive, and perhaps I should embrace this subject, embrace cross-cultural media and finally go and listen to some BTS.


  3. Hi Michaela,

    This was a thorough in-depth reflection and I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this topic. You discussed the Age of Transactions (Athique and Baulch, 2019) and how media is now so easily transferrable between nations due to the emergence of streaming services, and I think that’s a really important topic to touch on.

    India having the largest film industry in the world means that a lot of the films they make fail at the box office, in fact, 85 per cent fail at the box office (Hughes India, 2021). The introduction of streaming services in both India and elsewhere gives these films a second chance of survival.

    If you’d like to have a read of my posts on this topic, they are here for you 🙂 – https://emilykatemurphy.wordpress.com/2021/08/27/new-wave-of-cinema/ and https://emilykatemurphy.wordpress.com/2021/09/17/reflecting-on-the-new-wave-of-cinema/

    Athique, A. and Baulch, E., 2019. Digital transactions in Asia. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
    Hughes. 2021. Digital Cinema | Hughes India. [online] Available at: <https://www.hughes.in/services/network-services/satellite/digital-cinema


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