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The Korean Wave

South Korea

The term “Korean Wave” was first coined in mid 1999 by Beijing journalists, who were surprised by the growing popularity of Korean entertainment and culture in China and the rest of Asia. The main “wave” contributors are the nation’s soap operas and K-pop (short for Korean pop), that have reached huge audiences across Asia, and on a much smaller scale, North America and Europe.

Korean culture and influence has gone beyond Samsung, LG and the refrigerator market, as it’s become more holistic and international. Today, the Korean Wave encompasses everything from cosmetics, fashion, plastic surgery and computer games. The recent dynamic has boosted South Korea’s image worldwide and the nation’s tourism figures, which have multiplied over the last few years.

The Korean Wave and K-pop in particular, do however have their limitations. Few music insiders believe K-pop will ever be able to crack the US or Europe because of its predominant commercial aspirations and lack of creativity – all bands are manufactured by entertainment agencies through regimented grooming schemes. The Al Jazeera reportage below details the excesses of K-pop and the Korean Wave.

Images: cover: Carmela Nava via photopin cc, 1: Protocol Snow via photopin cc, 2: PureBlackLove via photopin cc, 3: hallyu.fr, 4: media.onsugar.com

Video: Al Jazeera, 101 East, South Korea’s Pop Wave