Over the last decade, the Hallyu Wave, or Korean wave, has been increasingly influential. The popularity of Korean dramas in East Asia in the 1990’s created a ripple effect, now spreading out and globally attracting people from all continents.
With its funky tune and easy but addictive horse dance, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” struck the world. Now with about 2.5 billion views and 1.8 million parodies, there are fewer people who do not remember the sensation the song caused.
While “Gangnam Style” has only been around for three and a half years now, the Hallyu Wave has been around for more than two decades, sweeping many nations. Although the music industry is in the lead, hallyu does not only refer to K-pop, but refers to Korean culture in general, including Korean dramas, movies, fashion, language, and even food.
“I like all Korean culture in general,” said Akhila Vemuri, a sophomore at Mission San Jose High School. “If I had to choose, my favorite would be Korean fashion and Korean food. Korean street fashion is unique; it is hip hop style, with Korean taste, which I really like. My favorite Korean food is kimbap; it’s so much fun to eat!”
Due to Korean culture’s unique qualities, many foreigners are drawn to it. For example, K-Pop is different from Western singers in its way of training future stars. The future idol-group-members go through rigorous training for many years, not only learning how to dance or sing, but how to speak foreign languages to communicate with global fans.
“K-pop is meaningful to me in so many ways. Not only do the songs brighten me up on an unfortunate day, but the choreography inspires me to dance,” said Minnie Luu, a sophomore at Mission San Jose school. “Also, something unique is that there are numerous shows starring K-pop groups, which demonstrate more personal sides to the artists and allows fans to connect on another level with them.”
As followers of the Hallyu Wave increase, unique communities have been formed. Online, there are websites like AllKpop (allkpop.com) or Kpopstarz (kpopstarz.com) that help international fans bond with another and learn about the newest Korean trends. Fans of Korean culture also meet offline, through Korean clubs in schools and regular fan meetings with their favorite idol star.
Despite the language barrier, many foreigners enjoy watching Korean dramas. Through websites that provide subtitles in many different languages, the viewers can enjoy shows in their native languages and even learn the Korean language.
“I love Korean dramas because they are different from others,” said Sharon Kung, a sophomore at Mission San Jose school. “It brings the things that I wish into real life, like the typical boy-girl plot you see in most Korean dramas. They are filmed so well that it’s amazing–the directors know how to attract the viewers.”
Although the Hallyu Wave originally started from drama, nowadays, many other aspects of Korean culture are famous in other countries. The global sensation that Korean culture has created is unlike any other.
“Through watching different genres of Korean dramas, I got to learn so much about Korean culture–even Korean history,” added Kung. “Not only that, the food in K-dramas got me interested in Korean dishes. Although I visited Korea once, I would love to visit again, now focusing more on the historical and cultural sights.”