By now enough people have seen the "Gangnam Style" music video or at least heard the song, so that even those people that were not aware of the proliferation of Korean pop culture around the world are now also aware of South Korea's entertainment industry. (If you still don't know what I'm talking about, you must have been kidnapped by aliens or something. Read a synopsis the "Gangnam Style" phenomenon at The Telegraph, and see the music video here.)
I have traveled to a number of Asian countries and have always been surprised to see Korean pop: while sitting in a restaurant in Hong Kong I'd suddenly hear a K-pop song; while walking the streets of Bangkok (Thailand) there would be advertisements with an attractive Korean star; even while reclining in a hotel bed in Vientiane (communist Laos) I watched a Korean television broadcast (Arirang TV). Certain neighborhoods in Seoul are crawling with Japanese and Chinese tourists coming to buy fashionable clothes and memorabilia of Korean actors from Korean soap-operas (known as Korean dramas). Myeongdong in particular is such a touristy hot spot, and then, of course, for those who can afford it, there is Gangnam.
|K-pop queen BoA |
|Rain: Singer / Actor / Model|
South Korea's extremely popular and boarder-hopping pop-culture is known as "Korean Wave" or "Hanlyu" (pronounced: hah-lyoo). You can download a small booklet on Korean Wave here. For anybody that is intrigued with Korean pop culture, I highly recommend it. I believe, as I suggested before, that Korean Wave is doing more towards destabilizing North Korea than all the political strategies, posturing and international sanctioning combined.