The Korean Wave

Since the early 1990’s K-Pop has really exploded and expanded becoming popular all over the world, this movement is also known as the Korean wave. Before this South Korea was far from “hip”, as everything was highly censored. (The Economist, 2014) It was mind blowing to find out that Korean pop culture wasn’t always glamorous, and was highly censored by the government.

K-pop started it’s take over in East Asia, it’s believed that other Asian countries found k-pop relatable through similar racial resemblance. They could connect with their morals and beliefs as they were similar to theirs. This filled the gap that American pop music left empty, as their music is all about sex, money, violence and tattoos. (Lie, 2012) This then led me to the question, Why is K-pop popular in other countries? I found a great article “What Is the K in K-pop? South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity” that explains that even though there is a language barrier this had been overcome by implementing aspects of Western pop culture such as beauty standards and choreographed dance moves into K-pop artists overall image. I found this quiet interesting that language isn’t a barrier anymore, we can always find was to connect with people from other cultures, through other aspects such as fashion.

Advancements in technology played a huge role in the Korean wave. With the introduction of social media sites such as YouTube and devices like the mp3 player took on huge roles in globalising K-pop. Since the introduction of YouTube in 2005, we have seen a shift in where we source our music from. This is due to the fact that people are able to access any genre of music they want and also have access to discover new genres such as K-pop. (Lie, 2012) YouTube allowed the possibility of exposing this genre of music to the world, which caught the attention of European, Middle eastern and American audiences. (Oh & Park, 2012) This then made K-Pop artist utilise the platform to attract the attention of these new audiences. When reading about this I found it interesting that YouTube was the main that K-pop broke into the western countries. It made me reflect on where music would be without the Internet, and how disconnected the world would be. I also found it quiet interesting that Mp3 players also played a huge role in delivering K-pop around the world. This was due to music becoming digitalised, making it much easier for us to purchase any music of our choice from all around the world.

Overall I feel like I learnt a lot this week about how K-pop migrated around the world and how we can relate to other cultures around the world. The most interesting thing I found out was that social media played a huge role in pushing K-pop into western countries.



Lie, J. 2012, “What Is the K in K-pop? South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity”, Korea Observer, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 339-363.

Oh, I. & Park, G. 2012, “From B2C to B2B: Selling Korean Pop Music in the Age of New Social Media*”, Korea Observer, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 365-397.

The Economist, (2014). Soap, sparkle and pop. [online] Available at:

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