Forget Mexican, Embrace the Korean Wave: The Impact of K-Pop on Koreas Global Image

The Korean Wave (which literally means flow of Korea) has seen the rapid increase of interest within Korea’s culture in both neighbouring countries and many more across the globe, including Australia.

“This new cultural trend also has a significant impact on the Korean economy through exports of its product and increased tourism. The number of foreign tourists visiting Korea…increased steadily and … increased purchase of the related product such as cosmetics, fashion, and Korean cuisine by foreign customers”. (Lee, 2015 p.1)


K-Pop (Korean pop music), is an aspect of the Korean Wave that has changed the face of music for many teens but also the image of Korea and has helped increase the economy of the once elusive country, in more ways than one as, South Korea is now the seventh largest film maker!

K-Pop stars have reached a broad audience and created “mania groups” (Joang-Hae C, 2011) of fans across the globe, this new style music is popular due to the connections of love and family that are so vital within the Korean culture. Many teens found it much easier to connect then with the Western style music.

Korea has often struggled against the “Hollywood” stars and the ‘Americanisation’ of the world, so the recent exposures of Korean music and films is significantly different from past experiences for most of society. This cultural shift has become possible due to the globalising nature of our modern world and the acceptance of multiculturalism amongst society.

“Korean wave is an indication of new global, as well as local, transformations in the cultural and the economic arena…It has found a niche and reposition itself as a cultural mediator in the midst of global cultural transformation” (Ryoo, 2008)


The impact of the K-Pop stars has been so widely noticed that when it entered the Chinese market, it was likened to when the Beatles ‘took over the world’, Asia’s version of British Invasion.

“Korean cultural products have become a catalyst for curiosity about Korean culture and Korea itself” (Joang-Hae C, 2011) Many people are now wanting to learn the language-  the request to bring Korean into universities and high schools has now been noticed by many staff members.

The extreme lengths gone to by their audiences include:

Beyond listening to Korean pop songs and watching Korea TV dramas, the new generation of consumers classified as the “Korea tribes” are aggressively adopting and emulating Korean lifestyles ranging from fashion, food and even plastic surgery. (Joang-Hae C, 2011)


Korea’s image has now been moved away from ‘North Korea and the Nuclear Bombs’ theories and is related strongly to the upbeat, inspiring music of K-Pop that has influenced so many teenagers from small towns in Korea and neighbouring countries that they can achieved their dreams. Even Australian teenagers are being inspired by this music, with many now learning the language and exploring the culture with fashion, food and films being among the top three favourite aspects of Korean culture seen within Australia today.

Reference List:

Kim, J.Y, 2007, University of Warwick, Rethinking Media Flow under Globalisation,

W.-J. Lee, “Korean Stars on the TV Drama and Their Influence to Foreign Fan’s Behavior”, Advanced Science and Technology Letters, vol. 102, (2015), pp. 79-82.

W-J Lee, “The Effects of the Korean Wave (Hallyu) Star and Receiver Characteristics on T.V Drama Satisfaction and Intention to Revisit”, Vol. 8, No.11, (2015), pp.1

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