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Contemporary Culture


One area that is growing more rapidly than any other is 21st century K-Pop, or Korean pop music, which spans dance-pop, pop ballads, techno, rock, hip-hop, R&B, and so on. First gaining popularity in East Asia, K-Pop entered the Japanese music market towards the turn of the 21st century and grew from a musical genre into a subculture among teenagers and young adults of East and Southeast Asia. Currently, the spread of K-Pop to other regions of the world, via the Korean Wave, is seen in parts of Latin America, Northeast India, North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and immigrant enclaves of the Western world.
The rise of K-Pop on the global stage is probably best represented by Psy’s Gangnam Style, which swept the world as soon as it was released in late 2012. The song was the first K-Pop title reach No. 1 on the British Official Singles Chart, took 2nd place on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the US, and also topped the charts in more than 30 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Canada, and Australia. The YouTube video of the song has been watched by more than any other, with over 3 billion since music video was released on July 15, 2012.
The worldwide success of “Gangnam Style” was preceded by a surge of K-Pop idol groups. Currently, there are more than 150 idol groups in South Korea, such as Big Bang, Girls’ Generation, 2PM, EXO, Wanna One, and BTS. TVXQ, who has countless loyal fans in Japan and Hong Kong, finally reunited in 2017, after the members completed their mandatory military service. In 2009, the five-member girl group, Wonder Girls, made inroads into the US market and became the first Korean idols ever to crack the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the song “Nobody”; unfortunately, the group disbanded in 2017.
Over the recent years, K-Pop acts have experienced a change of generations, from second-generation idols, namely Girls’ Generation and Big Bang, to third-generation idols, like BTS and TWICE, who actively utilize social media. The K-Pop genre has also diversified with the emergence of the indie scene.
In May 2018, BTS topped the Billboard 200 albums chart and won the Top Social Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards for two years in a row. BTS is rewriting the history of K-Pop with the fervor of their dedicated fans, who are collectively known as ARMY.
The popularity of K-Pop singers is largely based on their excellent vocal abilities, dazzling stage presence, and well-choreographed, impeccable dance performances, among other things. While they may look comfortable and charismatic on stage, their performance is the result of many years of hard work rather than any inborn talent.
Le Monde, the world-renowned French daily newspaper, ran a headline story titled, “K-Pop Arrives in France,” with high praise for BTS’s performances.
The Great Escape, a music festival held in Brighton, England, on May 18, 2017, staged “K-Pop Night Out,” which featured diverse genres of K-Pop music, not just limited to idol groups. It was an opportunity for a wide variety of Korean artists to garner attention from international media and audience. The Great Escape, one of the major music festivals in Europe, has showcased star musicians including Adele, Ellie Goulding, and Ed Sheeran.
BTS created a K-Pop sensation that had never before been witnessed in the US market. In the US, where K-Pop is still far from the mainstream, scenes of American fans singing along in Korean and waving placards with Korean writing were enough to surprise the world. Their appearances not only at the Billboard Music Awards but also on three major US talk shows, such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, received a lot of attention from Americans and Koreans alike. Just four years since their debut, BTS has become the most successful K-Pop act in the world.
In May 2018, the 2018 Dream Concert brought leading K-Pop stars together, much to the excitement of their global audience. An all-star lineup, including SHINee’s Taemin, Red Velvet, NCT, GFriend, Mamamoo, and Astro, heated up the stage of the biggest K-Pop concert in Korea.
This year’s star-studded lineup and special performances did not fail to capture the eyes and ears of K-Pop fans in Korea and abroad.
Living up to its 20-year reputation, many international fans flock to Korea for the Dream Concert every year.

TV Dramas

The great overseas success of What Is Love? (MBC) and Winter Sonata (KBS) in China and Japan played an important role in boosting the craze for Korean TV dramas across Asia and beyond. These hits were followed by Dae Jang Geum (MBC), an epic TV series about an orphaned kitchen cook who went on to become the King’s first female physician. Originally aired between 2003 and 2004, the drama became one of the highest-rated TV dramas in Korea before being exported to 91 countries around the world—including the Islamic states like Iran, where it received as much as 80% of the viewers—to fascinate viewers with its portrayal of traditional Korean culture such as Korean Royal Court cuisine and traditional costumes and medicinal knowledge.
The drama was particularly popular in the Middle East, most notably in Iran, where it received an average viewership rating of 57% and a peak of 90%. Dae Jang Geum was exported to countries around the world, including Asia, North America, Europe, and the Middle East—from Japan and Egypt to Mexico and Poland—earning around KRW 13 billion.
The significance of Dae Jang Geum goes beyond the show itself as it is believed to have contributed to expanding the scope of Hallyu to Korean cuisine, fashion, and medicine. The drama’s production inducement effect is estimated to have reached KRW 111,9 billion.
In 2013, dramas, like My Love from the Star and That Winter, the Wind Blows, were loved by international fans, while in 2016, Dokkaebi (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God), Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, and Descendants of the Sun revived the Hallyu craze.
In 2014, the success of the SBS drama, My Love from the Star, which was sold at USD 40,000 per episode to China, led to the increased popularity of Korean dramas. Subsequently, the price for the distribution rights of Korean dramas skyrocketed in China.
The 2016 TV drama, Descendants of the Sun, was dubbed “Taehu (an acronym from the show’s Korean title) Syndrome” and was sold to 27 countries including the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Japan, and China, posting a profit of over KRW 10 billion.
In September 2017, Korea was invited as the honorary guest country (Invitée d’honneur) to Festival de la Fiction TV, a French drama festival attended by directors and producers of popular Korean drama series. A total of three Korean dramas were invited—MBC’s W, tvN’s Signal, and JTBC’s The Package.


The worldwide popularity of Korean pop culture resulted in the reemergence of Hallyu (Korean Wave) movie stars such as Bae Yong-joon (better known as Yon Sama in Japan), Jang Dong-gun, Lee Seo-jin, Kwon Sang-woo, Won Bin, Jang Keun-suk, Lee Byung-hun, Rain, Jun Ji-hyun and Bae Doona. Of these, the last four have appeared as main characters in Hollywood movies.
The outstanding international reputation that certain K-movie directors and stars enjoy today is in part due to the international film festivals held in Korea, including the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF), and the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan).
Train to Busan, which received international recognition as the essential of Korean movie owing to its interesting subject matter and solid narrative structure, was sold to more than 160 countries in North America and South America, Europe, and other regions, raking in a profit of over USD 52 million.
International film communities have recently begun to show a keen interest in Korean films and film directors. The Korean directors who have attracted the attention of Western critics include Im Kwon-taek, Lee Changdong, Park Chan-wook, Hong Sang-soo, Kim Jee-woon, and Bong Joon-ho, all of whom have produced masterpieces as if to reward their support and the expectations surrounding them, such as Strokes of Fire (2002) by Im Kwontaek, Poetry by Lee Chang-dong (2007), Thirst (2009) by Park Chan-wook and The Taste of Money (2012) by Im Sang-soo.
In the 2000s, the status of Korean films has grown, with more Korean movies attracting over 10 million viewers. The Admiral: Roaring Currents, the biggest hit of 2014, amassed 17.61 million viewers. In the following years, Korean films, including Ode to My Father (2014), Assassination (2015), Veteran (2015), Train to Busan (2016), A Taxi Driver (2017), and Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days (2017), hit the 10 million audience mark.
Meanwhile, the Guanajuato International Film Festival designated Korea as the guest of honor in July 2011 and showed a total of 76 Korean films, including Whispering Corridors and Bedeviled under programs focused on Korean Horror Films and two film directors, Bong Joon-ho and Kim Dongwon.
At the International Film Festival of India, Goa, which was held in November 2016, South Korea was chosen as the focus country for the first time, and Director Im Kwon-taek was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Throne directed by Lee Joon-ik was also screened in the International Competition category, while The Age of Shadows by director Kim Jee-woon was selected as the closing film.

Source: Korean Culture and Information Service 'Facts about Korea'

ReplyPlease leave a comment about any information you wanted to add!
2 years ago

❣❣❣❣❣🇰🇷🇰🇷⛩⛩Was It Love? (Korean: 우리, 사랑했을까; RR: Uri, Saranghaesseulkka; lit. Did We Love) is a South Korean television series starring Song Ji-hyo, Son Ho-jun, Song Jong-ho, Kim Min-joon, Koo Ja-sung and Kim Da-som. It aired on JTBC from July 8 to September 2, 2020 and is streaming worldwide on Netflix💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

2 years ago

🇰🇷🇰🇷🇰🇷🇰🇷🇰🇷My Love From The Star. The most beloved Korean Alien is brought to life by Kim Soo Hyun as he played Do Min-Joon in the drama, My Love From the Star. i love korean k pop k drama Coffee Prince.⛩⛩⛩⛩

Diana Gabaldon
2 years ago

This year, Netflix has been activated worldwide due to home isolation caused by Covid, helping to attract sensational popularity of several Korean dramas armed with outstanding content. Kim Soo-hyun leading actor in "Psycho But It's Okay" is being shown in 190 countries through Netflix, ranking first in "Most Seen Content" in seven Asian countries, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, ranking second and third in Japan and 10th in South America, including Brazil and Peru. It has risen to sixth place in the global overall ranking of Netflix. The U.S. weekly observer reported in an article on March 30 that three Korean contents were uploaded to "Top 10 TV programs and movies that Americans watched the most on Netflix" (3.21-27). "Train to Busan" ranked 10th in the movie, while "Crash Landing on Love" and "Kingdom" ranked 6th and 9th in the drama, respectively.

Diana Gabaldon
2 years ago

Before the online K-drama boom like Netflix, it was "Autumn Fairy Tale" and "Winter Sonata" (2002) which started the fire on TV. In particular, Bae Yong-joon, the male lead in "Winter Sonata," became the first Korean celebrity to be featured in Taiwanese and Japanese textbooks, and the highly respected nickname "Yonsama" remains strong in people's minds until now. The popularity of Korean romance can be seen just by watching the remake of "Autumn Fairy Tale" aired in China more than 10 years later in 2011. "I'm Sorry, I Love You" was remade into a movie in China and a drama in Japan. "Good Doctor" is the first Korean drama to be remade in the U.S. The drama was so popular that it ranked first in viewer ratings at the same time when it aired on ABC in 2017, and has now confirmed its production of season 4. ABC has also decided to remake "My Love from the Star (2014), which has become a sensation in Korea.

mango banana
2 years ago

Bong Joon-ho, a director of the Academy Award-winning black comedy social thriller Parasite (2019), mentioned that his influence is nowhere near that of K-pop idols BTS. "I think BTS has 3000 times the power and influence I have. I think Korea produces a lot of great artists because we are a very emotionally dynamic people," he told reporters outside the Oscars.

Carl Ivan Setias
2 years ago

A crucial part of the Korean Wave is certainly also the Korean cuisine. While the Western palates have been accustomed to (westernized) Chinese and Japanese food for quite some time, a lot of Korean restaurants are starting to bloom. The same holds for Korean snacks and beverages, particularly soju which can now be bought in most Asian markets around the worlds. Even the American grocery chain Whole Foods Market now reportedly has Kimchi in their stores.

Carl Ivan Setias
2 years ago

With the soaring popularity of Korean entertainment follows the popularity of Korean cosmetics and fashion. By using popular stars in their commercials, Korean firms have successfully managed to ride the Korean wave as well. Actually, it often happens that the road to stardom begins with a modelling carreer, as it has happened for Daniel Henney, Kim Tae Hee, Song Seung Heon, So Ji Sub, and Won Bin.

Carl Ivan Setias
2 years ago

Korea has continued to make high-quality drama series centered around topics such as first love, historical characters, family, revenge, schools, and recently there has been an increase in medical dramas as well with titles such as “Good Doctor”, “Time slip Dr. Jin”, “Doctor Stranger”. Since explicit content such as kissing and bed scenes used to be a rare sight in Korean dramas, more conservative nations embraced them as a safe alternative to more explicit Western content. Historical dramas are also an excellent way for Korea to depict its rich culture. 사극 as they are called in Korean, are extremely popular due to their captivating story lines, their beautiful hanbok costumes, and their fairytale-like universes with kings and queens. Most recently, Korean reality shows such as “Running Man” and “We got Married” have also attracted a lot of foreign interest.

Carl Ivan Setias
2 years ago

Suddenly the world’s eyes were on Korea, and Korean culture soon gained a huge number of followers, making Korea a significant exporter of popular culture. Classic TV drama series such as “Autumn in my Heart” (가을동화) from 2000 and “Winter Sonata” (겨울연가) from 2002 are from the early generation of Korean dramas gaining a huge fanbase overseas.

Willy Liman
2 years ago

#Fact5 Kpop The cost of training can be seen as an investment by the entertainment agencies. The trainees (what idols are called while they were still training) do not have to pay for it. Training includes dance, vocal, language lessons and many others. If a trainee decides to quit, he/she will then have to pay back a sum of money to the company. When an idol first debut, they will have to distribute their earnings with the company. For example, JYP Entertainment splits the money equally (50-50) among the company and the artiste, and this varies across the industry.