South Korea: Pop Prominence
How did Seoul become Asia’s capital of cool?
Even in the Philippines, once an undisputed bastion of American pop and Hollywood movies, South Korean pop music, soap operas and fashion are now all the rage.
The phenomenon, known as “Hallyu” in Korean, took off around the start of the millennium with TV soap operas that became huge hits with Asians of all ages. Then came K-pop music, with its flashy choreographed dance moves, now imitated by teenagers from Beijing to Bangkok.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak ranks the overseas success of K-pop among his country’s top achievements, and the government operates a “Korean Wave” index to gauge the fever for its cultural exports.
Taiwan took the top spot in 2010, nudging out Japan. China, Thailand and Vietnam are also on the list, and the state-funded Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange says Malaysia will be added this year and the Philippines as early as 2012.
“The Republic of Korea is making young people all around the world wild with K-pop,” Lee said in an August 2011 speech marking Korea’s liberation from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule. The Associated Press