Manike Mage Hithe & K-Pop

By Prasanna Liyanage | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 22 2021
Columns Manike Mage Hithe & K-Pop

By Prasanna Liyanage

In the last few days I have seen some mixed remarks about the song “Manike Mage Hithe” done by the young singing sensation Yohani & the team. Some are very reluctant to accept the success of the song and still don’t believe it has gone viral. As a Nation we have to be very happy and positive about it rather than criticising the raaga, thaala, bhaawa & so on. 

I don’t know much about music, but after hearing the song my two and a half-year-old daughter is singing the song repeatedly. This shows it has something irrespective of all the critics to capture her mind. At the same time the attitude, appearance and the tone of Yohani’s voice added the glamour and the attraction to it. I think we have to look in to the door Yohani and the team has opened to us as a Nation. 

Many song reviewers on YouTube have already started looking at our Sinhala songs and artistes and many more viewers from all over the world look at our creations. If we can exploit this opportunity we can create a world popular culture like K-Pop (Korean Pop Culture), which is not only music, Fashion, TV soap operas and so on. You may remember how popular the Korean characters of “ Boys over flowers” was in Sri Lanka. Those days Gujumpiyo was the dream of our young girls and how influential it has become even tuition class tutors used them as cover picture of their notes. 


“I used to think that Korea was a feudalistic, male-centered society”. Hsieh said. ‘’Now I don’t have the same image as I had before. It seems like an open society, democratic”. Which shows how influential it has become to change the perspective of the Nation by this creative culture. The Korean wave refers to the significantly increased popularity of South Korean culture around the world; it is also referred to as hallyu, in the Korean language. 

The term was coined in China in mid-1999 by Beijing journalists surprised by the fast growing popularity of Korean entertainment and culture in China. Broadly speaking, it can be said that the popularity of Korean pop music and television soap operas in China and Taiwan sparked the Korean wave abroad. Over the past decade, Korean popular culture has spread infectiously throughout the world. The term, “Korean wave” or “K-POP” has been used to describe this rising popularity of Korean popular culture. The Korean wave exploded in the media across the world generating a ripple effect. 

The Korean Government took full advantage of this national phenomenon and began aiding Korean media industries in exporting Korean pop culture. This global expansion has contributed to enhancing South Korea’s national image and its economy and has been seen as a tool for public diplomacy. The first Korean global hit was ‘Gangnam Style’ which wased release in 2012 which went viral all over the world with his action video. 

Overall, ‘Gangnam Style’ was said to have made $8 million in YouTube revenue alone. My question is can anyone comment on the raaga , thaala and the bhaava of this video? Since then K-Pop is making a major contribution to the South Korean economy. According to the Korea Foundation for International Cultural Exchange, the Korean Wave of K-Pop, TV dramas, and games contributed USD 9.5 billion to the Korean economy in 2018. 

As scholars, we are discussing and debating over the creative economy and going global. We were looking for an opportunity. We can take many lessons from Korean Pop Culture and how policy makers have used the situation to boost the country image to make it a positive contribution to the economy. One such single case we can mention is BTS are a seven-member K-Pop boy band who have taken the world by storm with their music and have gained the South Korean economy $4.9 billion which is around 5.6 trillion South Korean won. 

Some call this the ‘BTS Effect’ highlighting just how much of a contribution to the country BTS make with their remarkable work. BTS has released a single which peaked Billboard Global Chart and stayed for 18 weeks has generated 1.43 Billion USD and according to the study conducted by Ministry of culture, Sports & Tourism found out that estimated revenue from the hit song would be able to provide 7,928 jobs during the Coronavirus pandemic which suffered greatly due to the lack of tourism.


Looking at other creative mediums, ‘Parasite’ became the highest-grossing South Korean film in 2019, gaining $258 million worldwide and win four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Furthermore, at least 80 K-Dramas ready to watch over Netflix making revenue daily. K-Pop merchandise in particular made a significant addition to the evergrowing number while endorsements of these artists are very influential. 

K-pop groups promote products including cars, drinks, electronics (LG, Lemona Hyundai and many more brands) making attractions all over the world including China mainland. SuperM a popular band made a futuristic safety video ‘Let’s Go Everywhere’, for the South Korean airline, alongside an original song choreographed especially for video. As of 2020, Korean Air’s revenue stands at $11.2 billion with an operating income of $228 million. 

Same as Sri Lanka Tourism is a key area of focus within the South Korean economy. The “I SEOUL U” brand and the slogan created along with K-Pop idols created a buzz with many brand and business and excitement to explore the capital city of South Korea. This made music and tourism to work together to bring money in to the south Korean economy. 

Are we ready to do something with Yohani or any pop sensation is a doubt? A collaboration between Seoul & BTS made a two mins advertisement filled with information; K-Cosmetics (South Korean makeup), walking tours such as the Seoul City Wall, and examples of Seoul’s nightlife are shown to intrigue people and make them want to visit Seoul. 

As of 2019, South Korea brought in a record number of around 17.5 million visitors. Travel into South Korea for leisure and tourism in 2017 earned the economy 59.83 trillion South Korean won. Apart from this concerts all over the world, franchises and many more to add associate with this culture. Even during the pandemic, BTS have held online concerts and these have generated quite a serious sum of money as well. ‘Map of the Soul: ON:E’ was watched by 993,000 people across 191 countries creating a revenue of more than 50 billion South Korean won across the two days of the live broadcast. This shows the focus of K-Pop industry and for us to learn from them and add our spices to innovate around. 

However, South Korean economy is not solely depending on this, they have bigger industries like electronics & automobile etc. (Samsung, Kia & Hyundai). All in all, automobile industry is 5th largest producer of passenger cars in the world with overall export value of 43 Billion (2019) from automobile industry itself. We need to figure out how we can add value to our existing creations and techniques and taking it to the world. 

For example, our pottery works, our handloom, some traditional artistic works and blend with this new music culture to promote Sri Lanka and its products. We have missed many exposures in the past including the cricket world cup win where we could have scored a lot to promote our country in the world. So are we going to miss this bus as well while arguing over minor matters? 

The Writer is an engineer from the University of Moratuwa and a visiting lecturer in leading state universities. [email protected] 

By Prasanna Liyanage | Published: 2:00 AM Sep 22 2021

More News