|Vietnamese||韓流 Hàn lưu|
The Korean Wave (Hangul: 한류; Hanja: 韓流; RR: Hallyu; MR: Hallyu, listen (help·info), a neologism (literally meaning "flow of Korea") is the increase in global popularity of South Korean culture since the 1990s. First driven by the spread of K-dramas and K-pop across East, South and Southeast Asia during its initial stages, the Korean Wave evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon, carried by the Internet and social media and the proliferation of K-pop music videos on YouTube. The term Hallyu was first used by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Korea in 1999, when it produced a music CD titled in Chinese "Hallyu—Song From Korea." The term was adopted by Chinese media to describe the success of Korean popular culture in China. 
Since the turn of the 21st century, South Korea has emerged as a major exporter of popular culture and tourism, aspects which have become a significant part of its burgeoning economy. The growing popularity of Korean pop culture in many parts of the world has prompted the South Korean government to support its creative industries through subsidies and funding for start-ups, as a form of soft power and in its aim of becoming one of the world's leading exporters of culture along with Japanese and British culture, a niche that the United States has dominated for nearly a century. During this time, Korean society began to be recognized as developed on par with the Western world.
The success of the Korean Wave owes in part to the development of social networking services and online video sharing platforms, which have allowed the Korean entertainment industry to reach a sizeable overseas audience. Use of these media in facilitating promotion, distribution, and consumption of various forms of Korean entertainment (and K-pop in particular) has contributed to their surge in worldwide popularity since the mid-2000s.
The Korean Wave has become an influential global phenomenon since the start of the 21st century, heavily impacting the contemporary cultures, music industry, film industry, television industry, and behavioural aspects of various people throughout the world.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Hallyu 2.0
- 4 Hallyu Index
- 5 Fan clubs
- 6 Foreign relations
- 6.1 East Asia
- 6.2 Middle East & North Africa
- 6.3 Oceania
- 6.4 Europe
- 6.5 United States
- 6.6 United Nations
- 7 Impact
- 8 Criticism
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The Korean term for the phenomenon of the Korean Wave is Hanryu (Hangul: 한류), more commonly romanized as Hallyu. The term is made of two root words; han (한/韓) meaning "Korean", and ryu (류/流) meaning "flow" or "wave", and referring to the diffusion of Korean culture.
This term is sometimes applied differently outside of Korea; for example, overseas, Hallyu drama is used to describe Korean drama in general, but in Korea, Hallyu drama and Korean drama are taken to mean slightly different things. According to researcher Jeongmee Kim, the term Hallyu is used to refer only to dramas that have gained success overseas, or feature actors that are internationally recognised.
The Korean Wave encompasses the global awareness of different aspects of South Korean culture including film and television (particularly "K-dramas"), K-pop, manhwa, the Korean language, and Korean cuisine. Some commentators also consider traditional Korean culture in its entirety to be part of the Korean Wave. American political scientist Joseph Nye interprets the Korean Wave as "the growing popularity of all things Korean, from fashion and film to music and cuisine."
An early mention of Korean culture as a form of soft power can be found in the writings of Kim Gu, leader of the Korean independence movement and president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Towards the end of his autobiography, he writes:
...I want our nation to be the most beautiful in the world. By this I do not mean the most powerful nation. Because I have felt the pain of being invaded by another nation, I do not want my nation to invade others. It is sufficient that our wealth makes our lives abundant; it is sufficient that our strength is able to prevent foreign invasions. The only thing that I desire in infinite quantity is the power of a noble culture. This is because the power of culture both makes us happy and gives happiness to others...— Kim Gu, Excerpt from Baekbeomilji, March 1st, 1948
1950–1995: Foundations of cultural industry
In the film industry, screen quotas were introduced in South Korea during Park Chung-hee's presidency to restrict the number of foreign films shown in cinemas. These were intended to prevent competition between domestic films and foreign blockbuster movies. However, in 1986, the Motion Pictures Exporters Association of America filed a complaint to the United States Senate regarding the regulations imposed by the South Korean government, which was compelled to lift the restrictions. In 1988, Twentieth Century Fox became the first American film studio to set up a distribution office in South Korea, followed by Warner Brothers (1989), Columbia (1990), and Walt Disney (1993).
By 1994, Hollywood's share of the South Korean movie market had reached a peak of around 80 percent, and the local film industry's share fell to a low of 15.9 percent. That year, president Kim Young-sam was advised to provide support and subsidies to Korean media production, as part of the country's export strategy. According to South Korean media, the former President was urged to take note of how total revenues generated by Hollywood's Jurassic Park had surpassed the sale of 1.5 million Hyundai automobiles; with the latter a source of national pride, this comparison reportedly influenced the government's shift of focus towards culture as an exportable industry. At this time, the South Korean Ministry of Culture set up a cultural industry bureau to develop its media sector, and many investors were encouraged to expand into film and media. Thus, by the end of 1995 the foundation was laid for the rise of Korean culture.
1995–1999: Development of cultural industry
According to The New York Times, South Korea began to lift restrictions on cultural imports from its former colonial ruler Japan in 1998. With an aim of tackling an impending "onslaught" of Japanese movies, anime, manga, and J-pop, the South Korean Ministry of Culture made a request for a substantial budget increase, which allowed the creation of 300 cultural industry departments in colleges and universities nationwide.
1999–2010: Korean Wave in Asia
Around this time, several Korean television dramas were broadcast in China. On November 19, 1999, one of China's state-controlled daily newspapers, the Beijing Youth Daily, published an article acknowledging the "zeal of Chinese audiences for Korean TV dramas and pop songs". In February 2000, S.M. Entertainment's boy-band H.O.T. became the first modern K-pop artist to give an overseas performance, with a sold-out concert in Beijing. As the volume of Korean cultural imports rapidly increased, China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television responded with a decision to restrict and limit the number of Korean TV dramas shown to Chinese audiences.
However, several other countries in Asia were also experiencing a growth in the popularity of Korean dramas and pop songs. In 2000 in the Indian state of Manipur, where Bollywood movies were banned by separatists, consumers gradually turned their attention to Korean entertainment. According to Agence France-Presse, Korean phrases were commonly heard in the schoolyards and street markets of Manipur. Many Korean dramas and films were smuggled into Manipur from neighbouring Burma, in the form of CDs and DVDs. Popularity in Korean products subsequently spread to other parts of Northeast India including Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland.
In 2002, following the reversal of a decades-long embargo on media between the two countries, BoA's album Listen to My Heart became the first album by a Korean musician to sell a million copies in Japan. Following this success, other K-pop artists also ventured into the Japanese music industry as well.
At the same time that Hallyu was experiencing early success, there was an equally noticeable growth in cultural imports from Taiwan, also one of the Four Asian Tigers. The 2001 Taiwanese drama Meteor Garden (an adaptation of the Japanese shōjo manga series Boys Over Flowers) was popular over the continent: it became the most-watched drama series in Philippine television history, garnered over 10 million daily viewers in Manila alone, and catapulted the male protagonists from Taiwanese boyband F4 to overnight fame, spawning a sequel and later adaptations by other networks (including Korean channel KBS in 2009.)
In 2002, Winter Sonata (produced by Korean channel KBS2) became the first drama to equal the success of Meteor Garden, attracting a cult following in Asia. Sales of merchandise, including DVD sets and novels, surpassed US$3.5 million in Japan. This drama marked the initial entrance of the Korean Wave in Japan. In 2004, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi noted that the male protagonist of the drama was "more popular than I am in Japan". Other Korean dramas released in subsequent years such as Dae Jang Geum (2003) and Full House (2004) saw comparable levels of success.
The breakthrough for K-pop came with the debuts of TVXQ (2003), SS501 (2005), Super Junior (2005), and other artists hailed by a BBC reporter as "household names in much of Asia". In 2003, South Korean girl group Baby V.O.X. released a Chinese single entitled "I'm Still Loving You" and topped various music charts in China, making a huge fanbase there. Both "I'm Still Loving You" and their subsequent Korean single "What Should I Do" also charted in Thailand.
Meanwhile, the popularity of Korean television continued to spread across the continent. Reports about Asian women travelling to South Korea to find love, inspired by Korean romance dramas, began to appear in the media, including in the Washington Post.
In Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, Korean dramas began to increasingly take up airtime on TV channels in these countries with Winter Sonata and Full House credited to igniting the interest in Korean pop culture in these countries. Korean fashion and hairstyles became trendy amongst youth in Nepal and led to a Korean language course boom in the country which has persisted to today. Korean cuisine experienced a surge of popularity in Nepal with more Korean eateries opening in the country throughout the early to mid 2000s. Similarly, Korean cuisine also became popular in Sri Lanka and Bhutan with Korean restaurants opening to satisfy the demand in these countries.
2010–present: Korean Wave globally
In the United States, Korean culture and K-pop has spread outwards from Korean American immigrant communities such as those in Los Angeles and New York City. However, even a few years ago there was little response from American music producers; according to the chief operating officer of Mnet Media, its employees' attempt to pitch over 300 K-pop music videos to American producers and record labels was met with a lukewarm response, there being "relationships so they would be courteous, but it was not a serious conversation". Similarly, attempted US debuts by artists such as BoA and Se7en failed to gain traction. They were labeled by a CNN reporter as "complete flops".
Despite this, K-pop itself and Korean television (with shows such as Jumong being particularly well received by audiences in the Muslim world) have seen increasing popularity throughout the US and elsewhere, with a dedicated and growing global fanbase, particularly after Psy's video for "Gangnam Style" went viral in 2012-13 and was the first YouTube video to reach over a billion views. The platform of YouTube was vital in the increasing international popularity of K-pop, overriding the reluctance of radio DJs to air foreign-language songs in reaching a global audience. A CNN reporter attending KCON 2012 (a popular US K-pop convention) in Irvine, California said, "If you stop anyone here and ask them how they found out about K-pop, they found it out on YouTube."
In 2012, the Korean Wave was officially mentioned by both US President Barack Obama at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies on March 26 (Full transcript at ) and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the National Assembly of South Korea on October 30 (Full transcript at un.org).
In February 2013, Peru's vice president Marisol Espinoza was interviewed by South Korea's Yonhap News Agency and welcomed the Korean Wave to Peru. That month, White House officials managing First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama's Twitter account revealed that they had gathered Napa cabbage from the South Lawn to make kimchi, a traditional Korean pickled cabbage dish. As an editor of Esquire magazine pointed out, this was considered perplexing because it "skews so far from the White House's usual fare". This news came shortly after it was reported that sales of Korean cuisine at the British supermarket chain Tesco more than doubled, and there were further mainstream reports of the Korean Wave in Germany and France.
That year, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi made her first visit to South Korea and attended a dinner with several actors including Ahn Jae-wook, whom Suu Kyi reportedly invited because of his resemblance to her assassinated father Aung San.
On February 25, 2013, South Korea's newly elected president Park Geun-hye delivered her inauguration speech, where she promised to build a nation that "becomes happier through culture," and to foster a "new cultural renaissance" that will transcend ethnicity and overcome ideologies because of its "ability to share happiness". According to The Korea Times, one of Park Geun-hye's main priorities as president will be to allocate at least 2 percent of the national budget to further develop South Korea's cultural industry and to seek more cultural exchanges with North Korea.
South Korea has experienced recent growth in the tourism sector, welcoming over 12 million visitors in 2013, with 6 million tourists from China alone. However, that year, a state survey of 3,600 respondents from over the world found that over 66% of respondents believed that the popularity of Korean culture would "subside in the next four years".
In October 2014, it was announced that CL, leader of the girl group 2NE1, would debut as a solo artist in the United States with Scooter Braun as her manager. CL would eventually collaborate with popular DJ's Diplo and Skrillex, and made a surprise guest appearance at Ultra Music Festival 2015.
In 2016, Forbes posted featuring articles on economic impact of global K-pop stars. The top act in its niche of kpop stars, BIGBANG took home $44 million in pretax earnings over the past year, easily more than the $33.5 million collected by today's highest-paid American all-male arena pop group, Maroon 5.
Korean skincare products have gained widespread popularity in Asia. Amorepacific and LG Household & Health Care have become the top two beauty companies in the Asia-Pacific region. China has become the largest market for Korean cosmetics and account for 25% of China's cosmetic imports. In Sri Lanka, European beauty products have largely been replaced in favour of Korean cosmetic and skincare products which have become popular because of their cheaper prices and their suitability for Asian skin. Similarly, Korean products have become popular in Singapore because they meet the concerns of Asians and that they have been designed for Asian people. The popularity of Kpop in Cambodia has also led to the influx of Korean beauty products into the Cambodian market. Korean cosmetic and skincare products have also become popular in Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan among other countries. Recent political issues between South Korea and China have led Amorepacific to look elsewhere and revamp its products in order to specifically target Muslim and darker-skinned women in Southeast Asia. In 2017, Innisfree released a range of darker-toned cushions in order to match skin tones of Southeast Asian women.
In November 2017, BTS performed their hit song "DNA" at the American Music Awards, becoming the first K-pop boy band to perform at an American awards show. Afterwards, they collaborated with Steve Aoki and rapper Desiigner to make two remixes of their song MIC Drop, aimed at the American audience.
In 2018, South Korean entertainment platform, Z-POP Dream Project announced that it will use blockchain technology in order to find new Kpop idols from around Asia. The company will collaborate with local partners in setting up academies and auditions in order to find new Kpop idols from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.
Hallyu 2.0 is a term used to describe the "New Korean wave" that began around 2007 as a result of South Korea taking advantage of 21st century digital technologies and social media. The term "Hallyu 2.0" was first used in August 2010 by Japanese media after Girl's Generation's successful showcase at Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo. Hallyu 2.0, appropriately, rose in tandem with Web 2.0, which emphasizes user generated content and usability. Hallyu 2.0 is larger in scope than the first Korean wave, and is also differentiated by the increased role and popularity of Korean pop music and other Korean exports like video games and animation. This in contrast to the importance of the Korean television drama during the first wave that was more geographically focused in East Asia. However, at the center of Hallyu 2.0 are the social networking sites (SNS) and user-generated content (UGC) sites such as YouTube that enable fans across the world to interact with South Korean pop culture. Overall, Hallyu 2.0 refers to different means (technology) to reach far beyond the Korean Peninsula and the continent of Asia.
Government Policy In Hallyu 2.0
The success of South Korean cultural products throughout the beginning of the 21st century has led some governments in Asia passing measures to protect their own cultural industries. Japan, China, and Taiwan made specific efforts to stem the flow of Korean films and dramas into their countries, which caused those films and dramas to suffer in sales. This necessitated Korea's finding new markets in which to export their cultural products. K-pop and Korean idols have been a core part of Hallyu 2.0 finding these new markets.
Much Korean investment in arts and culture prior to 1993 focused on traditional forms of Korean culture that were essential to hold on to given the turbulence of the 20th century in Korean history. After 1993, cultural commercialization became government policy as leaders saw the necessity of integrating culture and economy. In 1999, the "Basic Law for Promoting Cultural Industries" was passed by the Korean government, establishing government support for "coproduction with foreign countries, marketing and advertising of Korean pop culture through broadcasting and the Internet, and the dissemination of domestic cultural products to foreign markets". Establishing their clear and public support for cultural industries, however, caused antagonism in other Asian countries, which were, at the time, the primary market for Korea's cultural exports. Therefore, indirect support had to be practiced. In 2008, the budget for the cultural industries sector increased, and the government introduced the "creative content industry", emphasizing K-pop and video games as important foreign exports.
Sun Lee, the head of music partnerships for Korea at YouTube, said, "It might have been impossible for K-pop to have worldwide popularity without YouTube's global platform" Since 2012, views of the top 200 K-pop artists on YouTube have tripled. In 2016, 80% of the 24 billion views of videos by the top 200 K-pop artists came from outside of South Korea. YouTube is essential to Hallyu 2.0, as it allows labels to deliver music videos and other K-pop related content to audiences abroad without going through television or other traditional media outlets.
K-pop's relationship with YouTube began in 2009, when the "big three" record labels (SM, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment) partnered with the user-generated content site, after several failed attempts to break the American market between 2006 and 2008. This partnership proved itself effective in 2011, when YouTube metrics showed that the United States accounted for the heaviest concentration of K-pop views outside of Asia.
YouTube has enabled fans to connect with K-pop through their own content, such as dance covers and reaction videos/channels. Such channels include JREKML, a channel that has amassed over 1 million subscribers and consists mainly of K-pop reactions, skits, and vlogs. The creation of remakes helped "Gangnam Style" rise to world popularity. YouTube, and other social media platforms were instrumental as it allowed remakes to be created that adapted to the locality. This worked because it allowed the consumer to also become the producer, unlike before where adaptations to the local or regional culture would cost the original producer money.
State-funded trade promotion organisation KOTRA publishes an annual index measuring the reach of the Korean Wave in major countries around the world. The index is calculated by a combination of export data and public surveys. In 2015, public surveys were conducted across 8,130 people in 29 countries. The results shown below indicate the greatest popularity in Asian countries, with Indonesia and Thailand experiencing the fastest growth of those.
|Minority interest stage||Diffusion stage||Mainstream stage|
|Rapid growth||—||Rapid growth||Kyrgyzstan||Rapid growth||Indonesia|
|Medium growth||Germany||Medium growth||Medium growth||Philippines|
According to a 2011 survey conducted by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the total number of active members of Hallyu fan clubs worldwide was estimated at 3.3 million, based on statistics published by official fan clubs in regions where there are Korean Cultural Centers. In the same year, the Korea Tourism Organization surveyed 12,085 fans of Hallyu and concluded that most fans were young adults, over 90% were female, and most were fans of K-pop.
South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has been responsible for international advocacy of Korean culture. The South Korean government is involved in the organisation of concerts such as the annual K-Pop World Festival.
In the past decade or so, many Chinese officials have expressed positivity towards Korean media and entertainment, including former President Hu Jintao and former Premier Wen Jiabao, who was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying: "Regarding the Hallyu phenomenon, the Chinese people, especially the youth, are particularly attracted to it and the Chinese government considers the Hallyu phenomenon to be a vital contribution towards mutual cultural exchanges flowing between China and South Korea." The Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a report that states that China is South Korea's biggest export at $121 billion a year. Tourism between the two countries has increased as a result of the Korean Wave, with South Korea receiving a 27% increase of tourists from China (3.8 million people) in 2016.
A four-member research study led by Kang Myung-koo of Seoul National University published a controversial report in 2013 suggesting that Chinese viewers of Korean dramas were generally within the lower end of the education and income spectrum. This led to an angry response from Chinese fans of Korean television, with one group purchasing a full-page advertisement in the Chosun Ilbo to request an apology from the authors of the study.
Since 2016, China virtually banned Korean Wave because South Korea agreed to establish Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) with the U.S.A. Chinese government regarded THAAD in South Korea as a potential risk to Chinese national security. In order to defend its national security and achieve political purposes, Chinese government restricted the spread of Korean Wave and prevented South Korea from generating economic benefits from K-Wave. On August 4, 2016, the fan meeting of a popular Korean drama, Uncontrollably Fond, including the leading actor and actress, Kim Woobin and Bae Suzy, was cancelled without any notified reasons in Beijing. In March 2017, Beijing issued an suspension of group tours to South Korea for Chinese travel agencies. Many Korean entertainers and music bands, such as Lee Kwang Soo, BTS, EXO, and Girls Generation, faced difficulty performing in China. On December 7, 2017, Yonhap reported that EXO Planet #3 concert which scheduled at Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on December 17 has been abruptly cancelled by Chinese agency. Despite of performances, Chinese people have a limited access to Korean music and drama on Chinese online sharing platforms. Korean media such as television shows and K-pop music videos were blocked from streaming in China. This ban resulted in significant financial losses for the Korean entertainment industry with SM Entertainment down 18% since July 2016, a total of $150 million loss in market value. YG Entertainment was down 32%, representing a $230 million loss. Many Chinese-Korean television shows were put on hold as a result ofTHAAD.
In November 2016, Chung Sye-kyun, then-Speaker of the Korean National Assembly was still positive about the spread of Korean Wave in China by announcing at the China Forum,“China has been and is the largest stage for hallyu, from the beginning of its popularity. The meaning of hallyu is to grow, even though the relationship between two countries has wavered due to THAAD.” In late 2017, the ban of Korean Wave appeared to be ending. Many large Chinese online video platforms, including iQiyi and Youku, restarted import of Korean dramas. Chinese travel agencies also restarted group tours to South Korea. Dr. Pang Zhongying, an international and global affairs professor at the Ocean University of China said, “I think that relations are improving since President Moon’s visit to China, and travel is one example of that."
In 2017, China started to lift their ban on the Korean Wave with bands such as Mamamoo making appearances on Chinese TV shows after the South Korean and Chinese governments announced an agreement regarding the THAAD dispute.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges that the Korean Wave in Japan has led to discussion and mutual cultural exchange between the two countries, with high-profile fans of Korean television including former First Lady Miyuki Hatoyama and current First Lady Akie Abe. However, remaining tension between Japan and Korea has led to instances of street protests involving hundreds of people, demonstrating against the popularity of Korean entertainment exports. These protests were mostly organized by critics of Korean pop culture with the support of right-wing nationalists.
In early 1990s, Korean TV dramas first entered Taiwanese market but they didn't gain wide popularity. Local broadcasting channel GTV began to broadcast Korean television dramas in the late 1990s. The shows were dubbed into Mandarin and were not marketed as foreign, which may have helped them to become widely popular during this time. Since 2000, Korean pop culture was so popular that it even replaced the positions of long-lasting, favourable Japanese TV operas and Hong Kong pop music in Taiwan. It was a reverse in the Taiwanese entertainment market because Japan and Hong Kong maintained stable relationships with Taiwan for exchanging culture for hundreds of years, whereas South Korea was regarded negatively by Taiwanese, especially after South Korea readjusted the relationship with Taiwan and established a new relationship with mainland China since 1992. The boom of Korean Wave changed Taiwanese perspectives on South Korea and promoted the relationship between Taiwan and South Korea. Taiwanese TV stations gradually imported Korean TV series, such as DaeJang Geum, one of the most famous series. The production of Taiwanese TV dramas has been influenced by Korean dramas. Besides Korean dramas, Korean pop music has also gained public attention in Taiwan. In July, 2018, Taiwan News reported that Korean pop music was getting even more popular in Taiwan by holding seven K-Pop concerts within two months in Taipei, including live concerts by Zion.T, and Wanna One.
Middle East & North Africa
Since the mid-2000s, Israel, Iran, Morocco and Egypt have become major consumers of Korean culture. Following the success of Korean dramas in the Middle East & North Africa, the Korean Overseas Information Service made Winter Sonata available with Arabic subtitles on several state-run Egyptian television networks. According to Youna Kim (2007), “The broadcast was part of the government’s efforts to improve the image of South Korea in the Middle East, where there is little understanding and exposure towards Korean culture” (p. 31). The New York Times reported that the intent behind this was to contribute towards positive relations between Arab & Berber audiences and South Korean soldiers stationed in northern Iraq.
MBC4 (Middle East Broadcasting Channel) played a major role in increasing the Korean wave’s popularity in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). This broadcasting channel hosted a series of Korean drama starting 2013 such as "Boys Over Flowers” (أيام الزهور), “You're Beautiful" (أنت جميلة) , “Dream High" (حلم الشباب ), “Coffee Prince" ( مقهى الأمير). Some Arab countries opposed Korean shows (dramas and reality TV shows) because of the fear they would lead to Islam youth to abandon their traditions wholesale in order to adopt Western modernity wholesale. However, this did not stop the Korean industries from exporting more Korean Dramas to the Arab world in the following years such as “The Heirs” ( الورثة).
The popularity of Korean dramas in the MENA region-and its continuous growth- originates from the content of these dramas. As the majority of the plots of Korean dramas focuse on social issues (love between different social classes or family problems for instance), the Arab audiences fit themselves and could relate to the Korean socio-cultural values as they seem appealing to them. So Korean dramas play the role of an equilibrium point where two, somehow, different cultures could create a new cultural space where these two different cultures could meet.
In 2006, the Korean drama My Lovely Sam Soon was aired on Israeli cable channel Viva. Despite a lukewarm response, there followed a surge in interest in Korean television shows, and a further thirty Korean dramas were broadcast on the same channel.
It is hoped by some commentators that the surging popularity of Korean culture across Israel and Palestine may serve as a bridge over the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported that some Israeli and Palestinian K-pop fans see themselves as "cultural missionaries" and actively introduce K-pop to their friends and relatives, further spreading the Korean Wave within their communities.
Autumn in My Heart, one of the earliest Korean dramas brought over to the Middle East, was made available for viewing after five months of "persistent negotiations" between the South Korean embassy and an Egyptian state-run broadcasting company. Shortly after the series ended, the embassy reported that it had received over 400 phone calls and love letters from fans from all over the country. According to the secretary of the South Korean embassy in Cairo Lee Ki-seok, Korea's involvement in the Iraq War had significantly undermined its reputation among Egyptians, but the screening of Autumn in My Heart proved "extremely effective" in reversing negative attitudes.
Iran's state broadcaster, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), aired several Korean dramas during prime time slots in recent years, with this decision attributed by some to their Confucian values of respect for others, which are "closely aligned to Islamic culture", while in contrast, Western productions often fail to satisfy the criteria set by Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. In October 2012, the Tehran Times reported that IRIB representatives visited South Korea to visit filming locations in an effort to strengthen "cultural affinities" between the two countries and to seek avenues for further cooperation between KBS and IRIB.
According to Reuters, until recently audiences in Iran have had little choice in broadcast material and thus programs that are aired by IRIB often attain higher viewership ratings in Iran than in South Korea; for example, the most popular episodes of Jumong attracted over 90% of Iranian audience (compared to 40% in South Korea), propelling the its lead actor Song Il-gook to superstar status in Iran.
Researchers from both countries have recently studied the cultural exchanges between Silla (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) and the Persian Empire. The Korea Times reported that the two cultures may have been similar 1,200 years ago.
|TV series||TV channel||Episodes||Television
|2006–07||Dae Jang Geum||Channel 2||54||86%|||
|2007–08||Emperor of the Sea||Channel 3||51|
|2008||Thank You||Channel 5||16|
|2009||Behind the White Tower||Channel 5||20|
|2010||Yi San||Eshragh TV||77|
|2010-11||The Kingdom of the Winds||Channel 3||36|
|2011||The Return of Iljimae||Channel 3||24|
|2012||Dong Yi||Channel 3||60|||
|2014||Hong Gil-dong||Namasyesh TV||24|
|2014||Kim Su-ro, The Iron King||Channel 3||32|
|2015||Moon Embracing the Sun||Channel 3||22|
|2015||Fermentation Family||Namasyesh TV||24|
|2015||Good Doctor||Channel 2||20|
|2016||The King's Daughter, Soo Baek-Hyang||Channel Tehran||20|
|2016||The Fugitive of Joseon||IRIB TV3||20|
|2016||The King's Dream||Namasyesh TV||75|
In the early 2000s, Korean dramas were aired for South Korean troops stationed in northern Iraq as part of coalition forces led by the United States during the Iraq War. With the end of the war and the subsequent withdrawal of South Korean military personnel from the country, efforts were made to expand availability of K-dramas to the ordinary citizens of Iraq.
In 2012, the Korean drama Hur Jun reportedly attained a viewership of over 90% in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Its lead actor Jun Kwang-ryul was invited by the federal government of Iraq to visit the city of Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan, at the special request of the country's First Lady, Hero Ibrahim Ahmed.
In February 2012, JYJ member Jaejoong was invited by the South Korean Embassy in Ankara to hold an autograph session at Ankara University. Before departing for concerts in South America, Jaejoong also attended a state dinner with the presidents of South Korea (Lee Myung-bak) and Turkey (Abdullah Gül).
In December 2013, Morocco’s Marrakech International Film Festival, the largest film event in the Middle East and Africa, opened with Korean percussion music samulnori performance and screened more than 40 Korean movies, including “Painted Fire” (취화선) by director Im Kwon-Taek,. The same festival’s top prize, the Golden Star, went to the Korean movie Hang Gong-Ju by Lee Su-Jin.
On August 31, 2014, the "Moroccan fans of Korea" association invited the Korean-American K-pop singer Eric Nam to Rabat, Morocco to take part in the finals for the regional competition for KBS’s K-pop world festival, where participants competed in dancing and singing.
In March 2012, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited South Korea's Yonsei University, where she acknowledged that her country has "caught" the Korean Wave that is "reaching all the way to our shores."
In November 2012, New Zealand's Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andrea Smith, delivered a key note address to South Korean diplomats at the University of Auckland, where she asserted that the Korean Wave is becoming "part of the Kiwi lifestyle" and added that "there is now a 4,000 strong association of K-pop followers in New Zealand."
The first Korean drama in Romania was aired on TVR in August 2009, and in the following month it became the third most popular television program in the country. Since then, Korean dramas have seen high ratings and further success.
In November 2012, the British Minister of State for the Foreign Office, Hugo Swire, held a meeting with South Korean diplomats at the House of Lords, where he affirmed that Korean music had gone "global".
During a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the White House in May 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama cited "Gangnam Style" as an example of how people around the world are being "swept up by Korean culture – the Korean Wave." In August 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also affirmed that the Korean Wave "spreads Korean culture to countries near and far."
On October 30, 2012, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a speech in front of the National Assembly of South Korea where he noted how Korean culture and the Hallyu-wave is "making its mark on the world".
In China, many broadcasters have taken influences from Korean entertainment programs such as Running Man; in 2014 SBS announced the Chinese version of this program, Hurry Up, Brother, which was a major hit as an example of a unique category of programs known as 'urban action varieties'.
Korean media has also been influential throughout Asia in terms of beauty standards. In Taiwan, where the drama Dae Jang Geum was extremely popular, some fans reportedly underwent cosmetic surgery to look similar to lead actress Lee Young-ae.
Political and economic
In 2012, a poll conducted by the BBC revealed that public opinion of South Korea had been improving every year since data began to be collected in 2009. In countries such as Russia, India, China and France, public opinion of South Korea turned from "slightly negative" to "generally positive". This increase in 'soft power' corresponded with a surge in exports of US$4.3 billion in 2011.
Korean producers have capitalised on high demand in Asia due to the popularity of Korean media, which enabled KBS to sell its 2006 drama Spring Waltz to eight Asian countries during its pre-production stage in 2004.
The following data is based on government statistics:
|Total value of cultural
exports (in USD billions)
The following data is from the Korea Creative Contents Agency (part of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism) for the first quarter of the 2012 fiscal year:
|Creative Industry Sector||Total revenue (KRW)||Exports (KRW)|
|Animation||₩135.5 billion||₩35.2 billion|
|Broadcasting||₩213.5 billion||₩2.2 billion|
|Cartoon||₩183.2 billion||₩4.7 billion|
|Character||882.9 billion₩1||₩111.6 billion|
|Gaming||412.5 billion₩2||₩662.5 billion|
|Knowledge/Information||123.1 billion₩2||₩105.2 billion|
|Motion Picture||₩903.8 billion||₩15.6 billion|
|Music||₩997.3 billion||₩48.5 billion|
|Publishing||284.6 billion₩5||₩65 billion|
Relations with North Korea
The ninth President of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, acknowledged the possible use of Hallyu as a tool to help to reunify the Korean Peninsula. In May 2007 the television series Hwang Jini, adapted from a novel by a North Korean author, became the first South Korean production to be made available for public viewing in North Korea.
With the end of the Roh Moo-hyun administration's Sunshine Policy towards North Korea and a deterioration of North-South relations, however, Hallyu media was quickly restrained by North Korean authorities, although a report published by Radio Free Asia (a non-profit radio network funded by the U.S. federal government) suggested that the Korean Wave "may already have taken a strong hold in the isolated Stalinist state".
In 2010, researchers from the Korea Institute for National Unification surveyed 33 North Korean defectors and found that the impact of shows such as Winter Sonata had played a significant role in shaping the decision of the defectors to flee to the South. It was further revealed that a small number of people living close to the Korean Demilitarized Zone have been tampering with their televisions sets in order to receive signals from South Korean broadcast stations in the vicinity, while CDs and DVDs smuggled across the border with China also increased the reach of South Korean popular culture in the North. In 2012, the Institute surveyed a larger group of 100 North Korean defectors. According to this research, South Korean media was prevalent within the North Korean elite. It also affirmed that North Koreans living close to the border with China had the highest degree of access to South Korean entertainment, as opposed to other areas of the country. Notels, Chinese-made portable media players that have been popular in North Korea since 2005, have been credited with contributing to the spread of the Hallyu wave in the Northern country.
In October 2012, the Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, gave a speech to the Korean People's Army in which he vowed to "extend the fight against the enemy's ideological and cultural infiltration". A study conducted earlier that year by an international group commissioned by the U.S. State Department came to the conclusion that North Korea was "increasingly anxious" to keep the flow of information at bay, but had little ability to control it, as there was "substantial demand" for movies and television programs from the South as well as many "intensely entrepreneurial" smugglers from the Chinese side of the border willing to fulfill the demand.
In February 2013, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Psy's 2012 single "Gangnam Style" had "deeply permeated North Korea", after a mission group had disseminated K-pop CDs and other cultural goods across the China–North Korea border.
On May 15, 2013, the NGO Human Rights Watch confirmed that "entertainment shows from South Korea are particularly popular and have served to undermine the North Korean government's negative portrayals of South Korea".
South Korea's tourism industry has been greatly influenced by the increasing popularity of its media. According to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), monthly tourist numbers have increased from 311,883 in March 1996 to 1,389,399 in March 2016.
The Korean Tourism Organisation recognises K-pop and other aspects of the Korean Wave as pull factors for tourists, and launched a campaign in 2014 entitled "Imagine your Korea", which highlighted Korean entertainment as an important part of tourism. According to a KTO survey of 3,775 K-pop fans in France, 9 in 10 said they wished to visit Korea, while more than 75 percent answered that they were actually planning to go. In 2012, Korean entertainment agency S.M. Entertainment expanded into the travel sector, providing travel packages for those wanting to travel to Korea to attend concerts of artists signed under its label.
Many fans of Korean television dramas are also motivated to travel to Korea, sometimes to visit filming locations such as Nami Island, where Winter Sonata was shot and where there were over 270,000 visitors in 2005, or Dae Jang Geum Theme Park. The majority of these tourists are female. K-drama actors such as Kim Soo-hyun have appeared in KTO promotional materials.
The Korean Wave has also been met with backlash and anti-Korean sentiment in countries such as China, Japan, and Taiwan. Existing negative attitudes towards Korean culture may be rooted in nationalism or historical conflicts.
In China, producer Zhang Kuo Li described the Korean Wave as a "cultural invasion" and advised Chinese people to reject Korean exports.
In Japan, an anti-Korean comic, Manga Kenkanryu ("Hating the Korean Wave") was published on July 26, 2005, and became a No. 1 bestseller on the Amazon Japan site. On August 8, 2011, Japanese actor Sousuke Takaoka openly showed his dislike for the Korean Wave on Twitter, which triggered an Internet movement to boycott Korean programs on Japanese television. Anti-Korean sentiment also surfaced when Kim Tae-hee, a Korean actress, was selected to be on a Japanese soap opera in 2011; since she had been an activist in the Liancourt Rocks dispute for the Dokdo movement in Korea, some Japanese people were enraged that she would be on the Japanese TV show. There was a protest against Kim Tae-hee in Japan, which later turned into a protest against the Korean Wave. According to a Korea Times article posted in February 2014, "Experts and observers in Korea and Japan say while attendance at the rallies is still small and such extreme actions are far from entering the mainstream of Japanese politics, the hostile demonstrations have grown in size and frequency in recent months."
In the West, some commentators noted similarities between the South Korean Ministry of Culture's support of the Korean Wave and the CIA's involvement in the Cultural Cold War with the former Soviet Union. According to The Quietus magazine, suspicion of hallyu as a venture sponsored by the South Korean government to strengthen its political influence bears "a whiff of the old Victorian fear of Yellow Peril".
The South Korean entertainment industry has been faced with claims of mistreatment towards its musical artists. This issue came to a head when popular boy group TVXQ brought their management company to court over allegations of mistreatment. The artists claimed they had not been paid what they were owed and that their 13-year contracts were far too long. While the court did rule in their favor, allegations of mistreatment of artists are still rampant.
- Cinema of Korea
- Korean cuisine
- Korean Cultural Center (KCC)
- Culture of Korea
- Culture of South Korea
- Dynamic Korea
- Korean animation
- Korean drama
- Korean rock
- Manhwa & Webtoon
- Presidential Council on Nation Branding, Korea
- List of K-Pop concerts held outside Asia
- Taiwanese Wave
- Cool Japan
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First taking off in China and Southeast Asia in the late 1990s, but really spiking after 2002, Korean TV dramas and pop music have since moved to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and now even parts of South America.
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The fan scene in America has been largely centered on major immigrant hubs like Los Angeles and New York, where Girls' Generation sold out Madison Square Garden with a crop of rising K-pop acts including BoA and Super Junior.
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Hallyu was derived from the two Korean words 'Han' for 'Korean' and 'Ryu' for 'wave,' bringing about the present-day name for Korean Wave, a global phenomena about the popularity of Korean dramas.
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Indeed, the late 1990s saw the rise of "Hallyu", or "the Korean Wave" — the growing popularity of all things Korean, from fashion and film to music and cuisine.
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What is more, South Korea, which long banned cultural imports from Japan, its former colonial ruler, was preparing to lift restrictions starting in 1998. Seoul was worried about the onslaught of Japanese music, videos and dramas, already popular on the black market. So in 1998 the Culture Ministry, armed with a substantial budget increase, carried out its first five-year plan to build up the domestic industry. The ministry encouraged colleges to open culture industry departments, providing equipment and scholarships. The number of such departments has risen from almost zero to more than 300.
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Technical quality improved steadily and genres multiplied. Shiri, released in 1999, was the breakthrough. Hollywood-style in its pacing and punch, it probed the still-sensitive issue of relations between the two Koreas through the story of a North Korean assassin who falls in love with a South Korean counterintelligence agent. The film sold 5.8 million tickets, shattering the previous record for a locally made movie of 1 million. Its $11 million box office grabbed the attention of investors, who are clamoring for new projects.
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The show's popularity in Japan was surprising to many, including the producer Yoon Suk-ho and then-Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who in 2004 famously said, "Bae Yong-joon is more popular than I am in Japan."
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There's only one more thing this single Japanese woman says she needs to find eternal bliss – a Korean man. She may just have to take a number and get in line. In recent years, the wild success of male celebrities from South Korea – sensitive men but totally ripped – has redefined what Asian women want, from Bangkok to Beijing, from Taipei to Tokyo. Gone are the martial arts movie heroes and the stereotypical macho men of mainstream Asian television. Today, South Korea's trend-setting screen stars and singers dictate everything from what hair gels people use in Vietnam to what jeans are bought in China. Yet for thousands of smitten Japanese women like Yoshimura, collecting the odd poster or DVD is no longer enough. They've set their sights far higher – settling for nothing less than a real Seoulmate.
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That's a long way from even a few years ago, when panel moderator Sang Cho, chief operating officer of Korean TV company Mnet, would start pitching music programming to U.S. executives. "We probably showed about 300 music videos to top producers and record labels. In the beginning there were relationships so they would be courteous, but it was not a serious conversation," he said. "It's a different dialogue now."
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Like BoA, Se7en also tried to find success in North America and worked alongside Mark Shimmel, Rich Harrison and Darkchild. The result? Complete flops.
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The hit Korean drama "Jumong" was broadcast in Romania earlier this year, attracting some 800,000 viewers to the small screen.
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The Korean wave, or hallyu, has also made significant forays into Iran. Korean period dramas, "Jumong" in particular, were smash hits. Jumong ― the founding monarch of Korea's ancient Goguryeo kingdom (37 B.C.-A.D. 668) ― has become the most popular TV drama representing Korea here, with its viewer ratings hovering around 80 to 90 percent.
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On Thursday night she had a special dinner with a host of South Korean soap opera stars, one of whom she had personally invited because of his resemblance to her assassinated father. Ahn Jae-Wook, a popular singer and actor, starred in the 1997 TV drama "Star in My Heart," which was a big hit in Myanmar.
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The new administration will elevate the sanctity of our spiritual ethos so that they can permeate every facet of society and in so doing, enable all of our citizens to enjoy life enriched by culture. We will harness the innate value of culture in order to heal social conflicts and bridging cultural divides separating different regions, generations, and social strata. We will build a nation that becomes happier through culture, where culture becomes a fabric of daily life, and a welfare system that embodies cultural values. Creative activities across wide-ranging genres will be supported, while the contents industry which merges culture with advanced technology will be nurtured. In so doing, we will ignite the engine of a creative economy and create new jobs. Together with the Korean people we will foster a new cultural renaissance or a culture that transcends ethnicity and languages, overcomes ideologies and customs, contributes to the peaceful development of humanity, and is connected by the ability to share happiness.
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As a recent state survey indicates, there are many who believe that the popularity of hallyu faces an uncertain future. Around 66 percent of 3,600 respondents in nine countries (China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, U.S., Brazil, France, U.K. and Russia) said that the popularity of Korean culture will subside in the next four years
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The result, according to a survey conducted by the Korean Culture and Information Service, is that there are an estimated 460,000 Korean-wave fans across Europe, concentrated in Britain and France, with 182 hallyu fan clubs worldwide boasting a total of 3.3m members.
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It seems nothing can be done really to stem the new Korean Wave, with high-profile fans in Japan including current first lady Miyuki Hatoyama and previous first lady Akie Abe.
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Egypt and Iran has been the center of the "hallyu" phenomena in the Middle East for a few years now. While Egypt went crazy after the dramas "Autumn in my Heart" and "Winter Sonata," Iran went gaga when its state television aired "Emperor of the Sea" and "Jewel in the Palace".
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South Korea has also begun wielding the non-economic side of its new soft power. The official Korean Overseas Information Service last year gave "Winter Sonata" to Egyptian television, paying for the Arabic subtitles. The goal was to generate positive feelings in the Arab & Berber world toward the 3,200 South Korean soldiers stationed in northern Iraq.
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'This drama proved extremely effective in enhancing Korea's international image, which has been undermined by the troop deployment in Iraq ,' added Lee.
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Korean television dramas reinforce traditional values of Confucianism that Iranians find more closely aligned to Islamic culture, implying that cultural proximity contributes to the Islamic Korean wave. "Reflecting traditional family values, Korean culture is deemed 'a filter for Western values' in Iran," the article says.
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In Iran, the drama recorded 86 percent TV ratings.
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Australia has even caught the "Korean wave", the renaissance of your popular culture reaching all the way to our shores. We welcomed some of Korea's biggest reality television programs to our country last year – and tens of thousands of young Koreans and Australians watched your best known singing stars perform at a K-Pop concert in Sydney last year. Our friendship is strong and growing and when I return to Australia, I will do so enlivened and inspired by your Korean example.
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Korean food and music, both traditional and modern, are becoming well known in New Zealand. Indeed there is now a 4,000 strong association of K-Pop followers in New Zealand. So the 'Korean Wave' is now becoming part of the Kiwi lifestyle.
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La culture populaire coréenne connaît un succès grandissant à travers le monde. Ce phénomène porte le nom de " Hallyu ", ou " vague coréenne ".
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Koreanische Pop- und Unterhaltungskultur ("Hallyu", Telenovelas, K-Popbands etc.), verzeichnen in Asien und darüber hinaus große Publikumserfolge.
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. As "Gangnam Style" has demonstrated, your music is global too.
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It's no wonder so many people around the world have caught the Korean Wave, Hallyu.
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And of course, around the world, people are being swept up by Korean culture – the Korean Wave. And as I mentioned to President Park, my daughters have taught me a pretty good Gangnam Style.
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And people in every corner of the world can see it, as the "Korean Wave" spreads Korean culture to countries near and far.
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...the Hallyu-wave and Korean pop music, Korean culture is making its mark on the world.
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According to the Hallyu Future Strategy Forum's 2012 report, hallyu was worth 5.6 trillion won in economic value and 95 trillion won in asset value.
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In May 2007, Hwangjini became the first South Korean movie ever to be publicly previewed in North Korea. The main character, an artistic and learned woman of great beauty known as a kisaeng, is played by Song Hye Gyo, one of the most popular Korean Wave stars of the moment. The story is based on a novel by North Korean author Hong Seok Jung, and it was previewed at Mount Kumgang in North Korea.
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'There has definitely been a push to roll back the tide of the flow of information,' said Nat Kretchun, associate director of an international consulting group InterMedia, which released a report earlier this year about information flow into North Korea, based on surveys of hundreds of recent North Korean defectors. The study was commissioned by the U.S. State Department. His conclusion: North Korea is increasingly anxious to keep information at bay, but has less ability to control it. People are more willing to watch foreign movies and television programs, talk on illegal mobile phones and tell family and friends about what they are doing, he said. 'There is substantial demand' for things like South Korean movies and television programs, said Kretchun. 'And there are intensely entrepreneurial smugglers who are more than willing to fulfill that demand.'
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While suspicious talk of Hallyu as 'soft power' akin to the CIA's cultural Cold War bears a whiff of the old Victorian fear of yellow peril,
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- Critical article by Roald Maliangkay on the recent development of the Wave
- "'Korean Wave' Piracy Hits Music Industry", BBC, November 9, 2001.
- "A rising Korean wave: If Seoul sells it, China craves it", The International Herald Tribune, January 10, 2006.
- Korean Culture & Content Agency
- Shim Doo Bo, Hybridity and the rise of Korean pop culture in Asia, Media, Culture and Society, January 2006, Vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 25–44.