Welcome to Korea Day: From Diasporic to Hallyu “Fan-Nationalism”
With the increasing appeal of Korean popular culture known as the Korean Wave or hallyu, fans in Israel among Korean studies students have joined—and even replaced—ethnic Koreans in performing nationalism beyond South Korea’s borders, creating what I call hallyu fan-nationalism. As an unintended consequence of hallyu, such nationalism enables non-Korean hallyu fans to take on the empowering roles of cultural experts, educators, and even cultural ambassadors to promote Korea abroad. The symbolic shift from diasporic to hallyu nationalism brings to the fore nonnationalist, nonessentialist, and transcultural perspectives in fandom studies. In tracing the history of Korea Day from the 2000s to the 2010s, I found that hallyu fan-students are mobilized both by the macro mission to promote a positive image of Korea in their home societies and by the micro motivation to repair their own, often stigmatized, self-image.