Hallyu Wave, Not Just An Ordinary Wave

‘Hallyu Wave’ may sound familiar to some people while others are probably wondering what kind of wave that is. No, it is not a kind of tidal wave that can be found daily at the sea. The term ‘Hallyu Wave’ refers to a sweeping phenomenon in which Korean cultural products (such as movies, popular songs, dramas, food and clothing) are enthusiastically hailed by people from countries all over the world. This unprecedented craze for Korean culture has been spreading in an astonishing speed for the last decade.

Hallyu Wave first took place in China and Southeast Asia around late 1990s, when a Korean pop group, H.O.T, released their album in China and became a hit. They are later credited as forerunners of the ‘idol group’ trend in South Korea. Short after, a Korean drama ‘Winter Sonata’ was broadcasted in 2002 and soon gained massive popularity throughout Asia as well as Europe and North America. The drama has been broadcasted in 13 different terrestrial and cable stations in Japan alone and viewed by over two-thirds of the nation’s television households.

One of the most important aspects of Hallyu Wave is music, which is widely known as ‘K-Pop’ (an abbreviation of Korean pop). ‘K-Pop’ is a musical genre consisting of pop, dance, electropop, hip hop, rock, R&B and electronic music. In the recent years, K-Pop has started to take domination over music industry, especially in Asia. In 2008, a famed Korean male group TVXQ made it in the Guinness World Record for having the world’s largest official fan club. They have more than 800,000 official members just in South Korea, more than 200,000 official members in Japan and more than 200,000 international fans. ‘Best Selection 2010’, which consists of their best-selling songs, was sold for more than 1.000.000 copies and got first place for world’s album selling, leaving popular names such as Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber and even Michael Jackson behind.

Other groups who also have important roles in spreading Hallyu Wave are Super Junior, KARA, SNSD and Wonder Girls. The last two female groups have even made their debut in the USA by releasing English version of their hit song and making appearances on major television network talk shows, slowly enlarging the number of their fan club there. On the male’s side, the ‘leader’ of Hallyu Wave, Super Junior, shows their superiority by constantly holds their annual concert which takes place in countries around the world titled ‘Super Show’. The enormous concert always succeeds to attract thousands audiences and scored amazing ticket-selling record for the last four years.

This phenomenon of Korean-addiction, however, also has implications on many aspects. K-Pop, for example, has grown into a popular subculture among teenagers and young adults around the world, resulting in widespread interest in the fashion and style of Korean idol groups and singers. The recognition of Korean boy and girl groups also brought a quite drastic change in music style in some countries, including Indonesia. It starts over the trend of idol groups that used to be popular around 10 years ago here in our country. Newly emerging Indonesian idol groups such as SM*SH and Cherry Belle also admitted that they are inspired by K-Pop idols.

Not only music, the Korean wave also reflects to the spread of other aspects of Korean culture, including food, clothing, video games, and the language. International fans who like listening to K-Pop songs or watching Korean dramas tend to get interested in learning Korean language as well. They also find Korean people’s lifestyle fascinating and slowly begin to imitate the subcultures, from the way they dress up to practicing ‘aegyo’, a cute action often done by Korean.

Just like the concept of Yin Yang, Hallyu Wave is not always accepted by people. Anti-Korean sentiments are also taking places all over the world in response of the swift spread of Korean culture. In Japan, for example, more than 2000 people are reported to hold a demonstration in front of Fuji TV broadcast station, asking them to stop airing Korean programs. They even sang their national song and brought Japan flag to show their strong nationalism for their country and rejected Hallyu Wave which they thought have weighed down Japanese culture.

Hallyu Wave has brought both positive and negative impact to world’s people. On one hand, it introduces something new and fresh for us to enjoy. On the other hand, people are often become too obsessed with it that they no longer care about their original culture. It is absolutely okay to be fond of other culture, but our keenness shouldn’t make us overlook our identity of who we are.


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