There's a new product raising hopes of peace in the Middle East, it seems: South Korean pop music.
While Israeli and Palestinian negotiators make renewed efforts to find common ground for a lasting peace, youngsters in the region are reportedly taking their minds off the conflict with "K-pop". Researchers at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, reckon the Hallyu phenomenon - interest in South Korean popular culture - is taking off in Israel and beginning to have an impact in the Palestinian territories, reports Calcalist newspaper. It quotes Dr Nissim Atmazgin as saying that young people see K-pop as "cultural capital" - something that makes them stand out from the crowd.
One annual K-pop convention in Israel has reportedly seen attendance increase tenfold in three years, while Korean soap operas are seemingly trumping US dramas because they show how to preserve traditional culture while modernising, and their leading characters remain positive despite adversity. Researchers estimate there are around 5,000 K-pop followers in Israel and 3,000 in the Palestinian territories. They hope to bring together fans from across the divide, it's reported. Calcalist quotes Arab student Alaa Abid saying: "It's something that gives you hope, and in Jerusalem it is sometimes hard to find hope."
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