The term Americanization has appeared for decades now, since the early 1900s, which refers to the influence of American culture on other countries’ culture, such as in popular culture, media, cuisine, and technology or business practices. However, recently, since the beginning of 21st century, there has been a new wave starting from Asia, known as “Korean Wave” or “Hallyu”. In this particular research project for BCM210, I will examine the popularity of Korean Wave all around the world, as well as the factors that contributes to the success of Korean Wave.

Some people may say the Korean Wave is over since there is no Korean entertainment product is hot enough to get over the big shadow of “The Heirs” (2013). However, the recent series “The Descendant of the Sun” (2/2016) breaks the record of all K-dramas before as it has already earned the profit of more than 10 million USD when there only a half of the series is broadcasted. “The descendant of the Sun” has really become a fever in not only Asia. According to South Korean’s Yonhap News Agency, the series is already exported to 27 countries, including England, France, Italy, Finland, Spain, Turkey and Saudi Arab.


Poster “The descendant of the Sun” (Image: Kormore)

Single “Gangnam Style” of Korean rapper/ producer Psy debuted at number one on South Korean’s Gaon chart and has shortly beaten MV “Baby” of Justin Bieber to become the most viewed music video on Youtube since November 2012. By the end of 2012, his music video for “Gangnam Style” exceeded 1 billion views, became the most viewed song not only in the history of K-pop but also in Youtube’s history. The song’s refrain “Oppa Gangnam Style” was entered into “The Yale Book of Quotations” as one of the most famous quotations of 2012. At the time, the song had topped the music chart of more than 30 countries all over the world, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and Spain. On May 2013, at a bilateral meeting with South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye at the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama named the the success of “Gangnam Style” as an example of how strong the Korean Wave is.


Psy in Gangnam Style (Image: Fanpop)

It can be seen that the Korean Wave (Hallyu) does not stop inside the community of Asia, but has become a global phenomenon. Its coverage has reached every corner of the world. Some people may like it, some people do not, but they all heard of it.

But Korean Wave is not just about K-pop. The term Korean Wave (Hallyu in Korean), which literally means “flow of Korea”, refers to a phenomenon of the spread of Korean culture outside its frontier that started in the late 1990s. Despite the fact that K-pop is almost everything people know about Korean Wave, and also the most exported product, K-dramas is the thing that leaded. “Winter sonata” and “Daejanggeum” are the two examples. And this I will explain further in the research.

In this project, I will mainly focus on the figures and analysis from newspapers and online published journals researching on Korean Wave from universities, including “The new Korean Wave in the Creative Industry: Hallyu 2.0” by Dal Yong Jin, “Who stands behind the success of Hallyu” by William Tuk and “Enjoyment factors of Korean dramas in the US” by Lisa Chuang and Hye Eun Lee. According to what is found in the readings, I will collect the salient points and gather them in my research. There are some particular cases that I will analyze to help clarify the point, comprising “Gangnam Style” and “The descendant of the Sun”. Then I will analyze the elements that leads to such a success, link it with Korean’s soft power ambition. An online survey will also be carried out to examine how popular Korean Wave is at the University of Wollongong.


  • Dal, J 2012, “Hallyu 2.0: The new Korean Wave in the Creative industry”, II Journal, vol.2, no.1, pp 3-7.

  • Jaeyeon 2016, “Descendants of the Sun”, Yonhap News Agency, 23rd March



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