“Korean Wave” or “Hallyu” is the term invented by Chinese journalist in the late 1990s. It refers to the swift spread of South Korean culture around the world by the popularity of Korean romantic songs, TV series, and movies. Although the Korean popularity first took place in Japan and China, it has swiftly crept through Southeast and Central Asia and is now moving into the Middle East and South America.
“Korean Wave” was the shocked phenomenon of cross-border culture which eventually has had a strong impact on Korean economy, politics, and society. Even in the US, the Korean wave has existed for more than 10 years and still has a strong influence nowadays.
In general, you might hear that the Korean Wave has accidentally taken place and is fortunately successful around the world. In fact, however, the Korean Government has developed some policy guidelines and funded a huge budget to encourage all related private sectors to drive the boom of Korean Wave.
Alright, it is time to look back to the Korean History! From 1945, Korean Government started to plan a policy guideline on Korean Culture to protect itself from Westernization, especially Americanization. The Korean cultural policy has focused on finding the Korean uniqueness and cultural heritage. In the 1980s, the government strongly supported and spent a huge budget on the Arts and cultural education. In the late 1990s, the Korean Government implemented the significant policy on “cultural industries”, including movies, songs, publishing, broadcasting, design, digital animations, edutainment, and cultural content. The key success factors include creativity, cultural drives, cultural technology, sufficient infrastructure, and cultural contents. The ultimate goal of this plan is that, Korea will be the top world exporter of cultural industry by 2030.
Another key success factor is the 1997 Asian Crisis, which created a great opportunity for Korean Movie industry. The extreme depreciation of Korean currency (won) helped drop the amount of imported Hollywood movies. Moreover, the IMF policy made the Koreans to work only 5 days a week, so people seemed to have more free time and the movie theatres were expanded all around Korea to support the recreation need. Therefore, the movie theatres needed cheaper movies to gain more profit and the made-in-Korea movies are the absolutely right answer! Then, the dramatically evolution of Korean movie industry has started from that time.
In brief, nowadays the Korean wave has been a source of national pride for many Koreans. Korean celebrities are now among the highest-paid actors/actresses outside of Hollywood. Tourism to South Korea has reported drastic increases for a decade. In 2008, Korea’s biggest K-Pop (Korean Pop music band) export, TVXQ, made it in the Guinness World Records for having the World’s largest official fan club. These are the examples of huge impacts of Korean Wave around the world. And, believe it or not, even in NORTH KOREA, the (South) Korean Wave has been spread over its popularity surprisingly!