Hallyu – The Korean Wave Phenomenon

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Have you ever heard of Hallyu? If you've ever watched a Korean drama, heard some Korean band music or made a heart symbol with your fingers, it's all part of Hallyu. This expression is the name given to the “Korean wave”, that is, the increase in cultural visibility worldwide. Although we have noticed that the korean pop culture is more present in recent years, the term itself is already a few decades old. Let's see how Korean culture has conquered much of the world.

How did Hallyu come about?

Hallyu emerged in the 1990s, when in China and the US, when cultural aspects of South Korea began to become popular there. The term was first used by journalists in Beijing when they were surprised by the emergence of so many aspects of South Korea in China.

The first to expand outside of South Korea were the K-Dramas. Then they started with Korean pop songs, K-Pop, with the help of YouTube that breaks any cultural barriers. Currently, these aspects are already present in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, South Africa, North America and Europe.

The aspects of Korean culture came out of their personal life and started to be desired by the world beyond the songs and dramas are the way to dress (K-Fashion), steps to take care of the skin, (K-Beauty), Korean food (K -Food), cultural aspects and language (K-Culture), comics (Manhwas) and technology such as cars, smartphones and games.

Hallyu is also a variation on Soft Power which is basically the power of influence from one country to another. Soft Power in English is “soft power”, and the expression comes from Professor Joseph Nye Jr. This applies to several factors in addition to cultural and also financial aspects.

Interestingly, this kind of 'domination' is quite right because the rise of Korean culture and any other in a given country means money coming in and going out. To join a part of another culture, you need to invest in internet, streaming, accessories, internet ordering and others. So this factor is healthy for the economy, especially for the place that exports.

The world economy with Hallyu

How much do you imagine pop culture's turnover in recent years? Well, a specific value is kind of difficult to give because the value of the dollar changes always, each country has its consumption amount. But the certainty is that this market is worth billions of dollars. According to the portal Power 360, in 2021 the South Korean government invested more than 7 billion reais.

Big changes in the South Korean cultural sector interfered in the market as the demand for everything related to South Korea increased with the popularity. Just for tourism from 2003 to 2018 the increase was more than 40%, only for Brazilians who go to the country, now imagine the rest of the world?! Something also surprising was the movie Parasite , the first South Korean film to be nominated for an Oscar and even took 4 statuettes! The film received over 139 million dollars.

Hallyu - the Korean wave phenomenon
Korean k-pop group BTS 

BTS one of the most famous Korean bands are among the highest paid bands in the world. But the South Korean government did not always invest in culture, they started to support music to promote festivals. In 1998, after going through an economic crisis, the government started to invest in the creative industry.

The application of the power of Korean culture happens in a very strategic way, because as the growth in music markets and cinematic means that the artists involved are used to attract more people. For example, most people who visited South Korea in 2019 stated that it was because of the influence of the BTS group and not because of other aspects of the place.

Another example is that this same band was chosen because of its international relevance to represent South Korea at the UN (United Nations) to symbolize public diplomacy for future generations and culture. Actresses and other groups are also part of campaigns to promote culture, nature, charity and other things and all of this attracts more people to contribute to the worldwide phenomenon of the Korean wave.

Hallyu - the Korean wave phenomenon

Pandemic: a determining factor for the spread of Korean pop culture

The COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020 and with a quarantine mission that took many by surprise, most did not know what to do after being idle for so many days. It was during this period that the increase in streaming subscriptions increased, people started taking online courses and dancing at home as a form of exercise.

It didn't take long to see K-Dramas among the most watched series on Netflix, to increase demand for the language course to learn Korean without leaving home, to make Korean groups be the most listened to on music platforms and even learn the choreographies. The way of life of many changed during the pandemic and K-pop managed to keep up.

Hallyu - the Korean wave phenomenon
Korean dramas (k-drama)

During this period, Brazil ranked third among the largest consumers of K-Dramas in the world. In second place is Thailand and in first place is Malaysia. Probably these dramas grow so much because of the variety of plots he has, although they have long episodes they are few episodes. usually in the cast are well-known singers and actors and famous actresses, shows more details of the South Korean culture and among other factors.

In an interview with Suki Desu, 31-year-old Stephany Ribeiro said the reasons she loves Korean culture so much: “What strikes me the most is the respectful way Koreans behave, especially towards their elders. It is also a country that places great value on education”. She is among the people who came to follow Korean culture more closely during the pandemic.

The businesswoman believes that Hallyu is not a fad: “There is still a prejudice about K-pop that will pass once people recognize how talented they are. It's a growing culture”. Stephany is a lettering artist and works with custom designs and one of her first impressions was a mug that showed her love for pop culture.

Hallyu - the Korean wave phenomenon
Stephany Ribeiro businesswoman from My world with scratches and scribbles

What strikes you most about South Korean culture?

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