Watch me Whi…GANGNAM STYLE

The Korean wave (literally means “flow of Korea”) refers to the increase in the popularity of South Korean culture since the later 1990s. As the globalised phenomenon of Korean pop culture has increasingly become popular in many parts of the world, South Korea has developed economically, socially and gained global attention.

With the emergence of communication technologies and media networks, national cultural structures have become subjective, thus impacting traditional forms and the outcome of one’s identity. Through faster, more extensive, interdependent forms of worldwide exchange, travel, and interaction this process has accelerated along the Asian region.

Intensification of foreign direct investment, trade, cross-national corporate alliances and mergers, cultural exchanges and university tie-ups have fortified worldwide links between people, organizations, cities and governments of various nation-states (Lynn, 2005).

Alongside the development and increase of worldwide links, through the development of media production, distribution and consumption, Asia has shown the signs of increasing diversity of nationalities. This meaning that the increase of worldwide consumption of new media forms has created spaces for new cultural transformations due to the adjustment of westernisation and globalisation.

In the midst of this new trend, the rise of South Korean television drama and cinema, following the popularization of South Korean music in many Asian markets, has created an interesting phenomenon which requires closer analysis of the transnational circulation and consumption of media products (Culture Industry and Cultural Capital, 2005).

As a result of the increasing production and performances, South Korea is now the twelfth largest economy in the world. These global effects of culture and media have given South Korea a chance to claim a presence in the film industry, music industry, and theatre, hence the major success of various films globally, for example: In 1999, the blockbuster action film, “Shiri”, attracted 5.78 million viewers and sold for US$1.3 million. The movie accomplished topping the Hong Kong box office for three consecutive weeks and is still a well-known film throughout Asia. This increasing popularity of South Korean entertainment has further developed and is now well known globally for its music “K-pop”

From well-packaged television dramas to slick movies, from pop music to online games, the South Korean media industry and its stars are increasingly defining what the people of East Asia see, listen to and play (Onishi, 2005).

Below is a mix of popular Kpop groups, one of which is the worldwide phenomenon PSY “Gangnam Style”. The mega-hit became the first video in history to surpass two billion views on YouTube. The track’s success has led a huge surge in K-pop’s popularity on the video platform, as Billboard.com shows, the video spent 5 weeks at no.1, spent 31 weeks on the U.S based Hot 100, and placed no.47 on the 2012’s year-end hot 100 chart.

Although Korean entertainment has a major language barrier, millions of K-pop fans around the world aren’t letting that stand in the way. CNBC reported that According to a report by YouTube, K-Pop video clips were viewed nearly 2.3 billion times in 235 countries in 2011. The views have jumped three-fold since 2010.

So with the major influence of Westernisation and globalisation, South Korea has significantly developed in more aspects than simply the entertainment industry, which has brought upon new relationships with the country.


  1. http://www.thestar.com.my/Lifestyle/Entertainment/Music/News/2014/01/02/The-rising-tides-of-Kpop/
  2. https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/456047/mod_resource/content/1/Week%205_Ryoo.pdf
  3. http://www.millwardbrown.com/global-navigation/blogs/post/mb-blog/2012/11/21/10-reasons-why-Gangnam-Style-became-a-global-hit.aspx
  4. http://www.cnbc.com/id/48157880
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