The Hallyu Wave: What Is It Exactly?

The Hallyu Wave: What Is It Exactly?

When talking about Korean culture in articles, television, etc., the most commonly used word to describe this cultural expansion is the “Korean Wave,” also called the Hallyu Wave. This “wave” is used to describe the globalization of South Korea and its cultural bridge into other countries.

It is suggested that the term Hallyu was coined first by Chinese reporters in the 1990s as 韩流 (hán liú) when Korean music and film first spread to other countries (Ravina 4).

First, it is important to understand what “globalization” is so that it is easier to understand the Korean Wave. The term “globalization” refers to the way in which the world has become, theoretically, smaller and has brought awareness to the abundance of differing cultures. It involves the creation of new social networks and the multiplication of existing connections that cut across traditional political, economic, cultural, and geographical boundaries. Basically, it is the integration of one culture into another, through various formats. Ironically, the term globalization cannot be translated into other languages.

The globalization of Korean culture goes by another name in the mainstream system: the Korean Wave or Hallyu Wave. This “wave” classifies different aspects of South Korean popular culture such as music, food, beauty, television dramas, movies, fashion, etc. There is no specific year as to when South Korea’s culture began to have influences on Western countries such as America, but it can be assumed to have begun as early as the 1990s. Since then, the South Korean economy has grown and receives funding from tourism and exports due in part to the Korean Wave.

The Korean Wave encompasses many aspects of culture, but the two topics at the forefront are music and television. After that, there are things such as clothing, food, beauty, and history that follow. Events such as K-Cons hosted all over the world, social media, integration of Korean dramas onto large, streaming platforms, and television appearances are major factors into the growth of the Korean Wave.

In the coming articles, we will be exploring certain media that have increased the rapidly growing sensation around the Korean Wave, K-con, and marketing by the music companies. In addition, looking at the more aspects of the music, television, clothing, food, and beauty and their significance in the Korean and Western cultures.

Let us know if you found this article helpful and add any comment on certain aspects of the Korean Wave you would like to learn more about? How did you first hear about Korean culture?

Written by Avery Souders

Ravina, Mark. "Introduction: conceptualizing the Korean Wave." Southeast Review of Asian Studies, vol. 31, 2009, p. 3+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.

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