In this first in a series on the Korean Wave, or hallyu, The Diplomat investigates the history behind the phenomenon.
What are the roots of the Korean Wave—the remarkable global rise in popularity of South Korean pop culture over the past decade? Analysts I’ve spoken to agree the trend began in the late 1990s in Taiwan, where the unexpected popularity of a politically endorsed hit dance music group called Clon sparked an interest in Korean pop and then Korean TV shows. The interest and fanfare surrounding the latter soon spread to China and Japan, among other places, and through the early 2000s fanned out as far as India and the United States (and even Iran—I’ll be talking about this more on Monday.)
So why did it take off in the first place? Jong-Bong Choi, assistant professor of Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, told me that the Korean Wave was likely given a boost by economic circumstances. In the mid-1990s, South Korea’s rhetoric and foreign policy shifted from being somewhat isolationist to pro-globalization—Korea was opening up to the world.
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Source: Ulara Nakagawa @ The Diplomat
Following parts of the series: 2, 3, 4, 5