Riding the Hallyu Wave

The first Korean song I heard was in 2007, Big Bang’s Haru Haru (Day by Day), which was simply due to the fact that my older sister kept playing it around the house. At the time, I didn’t even realise it was in Korean and knew nothing about the Korean music industry. It wasn’t until around 2010, that the song resurfaced and I became fascinated and slowly obsessed with the music style and everything else Hallyu.

Here, listen for yourself. You may get caught up in it like everyone else. Haru Haru (Day by Day)- Big Bang

Hallyu is basically the ‘Korean Wave’, referring to the global popularity of South Korean cultural products of film, television, popular music and fashion. K-pop has become a global phenomenon, not just within Asia but all over the world. When people think K-pop, Psy’s Gangnam Style may be the first thought for many; being the first YouTube video to reach a billion views and being a worldwide hit in 2012, but K-pop is much more than that. K-pop is characterised by their flashy, catchy audio visual elements, combined with good looks and presentation which reasons for Korean Pop Stars global fame and appeal. K-pop groups such as Big Bang, Girls Generation, TVXQ, 2NE1 and Super Junior are a small portion of the popular groups evident whom are loved and adored by dedicated fans; with TVXQ recorded to having the biggest fandom in the world in 2008 by the Guinness Book of Records.

North America’s exposure to K-pop has steadily increased with girl group Girls Generation performing their English version of ‘The Boys’ (which also featured Snoop Dog as a remix) on Late Show with David Lettermen and Live! With Kelly in 2012. Collaborations between American artists such as 2NE1 and Will.i.am, G-Dragon and Missy Elliot and JYJ and Kanye West have also brought awareness as American artists acknowledged and recognised the K-pop culture.

Niliria- G-Dragon featuring Missy Elliot performance at K-CON in LA 2013

Korean television dramas are extremely popular globally, with streaming services that offer multiple language subtitles. Winter Sonata gained widespread popularity in Japan which boosted tourism between Korean and Japan, which later on created a relationship that allowed several Korean drama remakes in Japan and vice versa. It soon spread outside of Asia and reached North America, with Netflix offering Korean dramas in there video selection in 2008. Korean drama hit, My Love From Another Star which aired early 2014 has been bought by (America’s) ABC to be adapted and remade. CBS and EnterMedia have also ‘teamed up to develop a media drama based on the South Korean series Good Doctor and NBC is also preparing to release a show based off Korean variety show, Grandpas Over Flowers’ (Hollywood Reporter)

The usual question I receive when I tell someone I listen to K-pop is generally, ‘how can you listen to music you don’t understand?’

Yes, I don’t know Korean but it’s the music, performance, passion, visual appeal and lack of profanity, sex and drugs that attracts my attention. From the Korean pop culture, I’ve become occupied with watching Korean TV shows, films and listening to K-pop to the extent where I can say I know plenty about Korean traditions, culture and even some Korean. I guess the power of the Hallyu wave has certainly affected me. The growing acceptance of South Korean pop culture in many parts of the world has allowed the use of the Korean Wave as a tool for soft power, being one of South Korea’s biggest exports. It also allows foreign countries to embrace Korean culture and encourage tourism, which has definitely worked, considering I’m going to South Korea next month to see it all first-hand.


Goldberg.L, 2014, ‘ABC Adapting Hot Korean Drama ‘My Love From Another Star’ in The Hollywood Reported- The Live Feed, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/my-love-star-abc-remake-733887 viewed 2/10/14.

Jung. EY, (2009), ‘Transnational Korea: A critical assessment of the Korea Wave in the US in Southeast Review of Asian Studies Volume 31, pp. 69- 80.

Images: http://www.mcmbuzz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/20110703_seoulbeats_samenamemix.jpg

YouTube Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzCbEdtNbJ0 – Haru Haru (Big Bang)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VjE4RHZAaI – Niliria- G-Dragon feat. Missy Elliot (Big Bang)


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