The Influence of the Korean Wave
The term Korean wave is used to describe the increase in the popularity of South Korean entertainment and culture starting in the 199s, in Asia, which has more recently spread to the rest of the world. This trend represents a rise in the international perceptibility of Korean culture. The origin of the term dates back to 1999 and it was created by Beijing journalists who noticed the fast growing popularity of Korean entertainment and culture in China.
The wave has had considerable economic impact in the country, as well as on the political and cultural influence on South Korea. Namely, in 2001, based on international activity the Korean wave added approximately USD$3.8bn of revenue to the South Korean economy. The impact was such that an American journalist described the wave as a “pop culture tsunami” flowing from South Korea to the United States and to the rest of the world.
Indeed, the Korean wave has reached every corner of the planet as it has spread to Central Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and even Eastern Europe. A popular Korean soap opera produced in 2003 called “Stairway to Heaven” was watched in countries like Venezuela and people there could relate to human emotions which are universal.
The Korean wave, also known as Hallyu, is made up by many different aspects of South Korean culture, such as: popular music or K-pop (songs are usually released on YouTube onto the global audience), dramas or k-dramas (translated into English by fans usually within 24 hours of release), language (there has been a rising interest in Korean language classes in the past few years, and it is believed this trend is due to the popularity of K-pop songs and K-dramas), animated comics and films, and cuisine.
In recent years, K-pop has become the predominant Korean export. While it has helped to maximize the influence of the wave, it has also opened the doors of the Korean culture to the world.