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Synonyms: Hallyru, Korean Wave
See also: K-pop, Kdrama, Manhwa
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"Hallyu" or "Hallyru," also known as the "Korean wave," refers to the increased global popularity of South Korean media and culture, including K-pop, Kdramas, and Manhwa[1][2]

The term Hallyu was first coined in the 1990s in response to the growing popularly of South Korean culture across Asia, and especially within the large media markets of Japan and China. In the 2010, Hallyu became a global phenomenon and a huge source of fic and fanworks, thanks to the popularity of K-pop artists like BTS, EXO, NCT (band) and SEVENTEEN.[2]

Hallyu in Asia

Korean popular culture exploded in popularity across Asia starting in the late 1990s/Early 2000s with K-Pop artists such as BoA, Shinwha, and Big Bang (Band), the film My Sassy Girl and TV shows such as Winter Sonata and Full House (Korean Drama) becoming popular with audiences across Asia, particularly in China, India, and Japan.[2][3]

Hallyu in North America

The 2000s

First held in 2003, The Korea Times Music Festival (formerly the Korean Music Festival) is an annual event held at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California.

The festival introduced some of South Korea's most popular artists to North American audiences. Some of these bands would go on to moderate popularity within North American media fandom, including DBSK (2004, 2008),[4] Super Junior (2007),[5] Girls' Generation (2008, 2009)[6] and SHINee. (2009, 2016).[7][8]

A number of Korean entertainers tried to break into the American market in the mid-2000s, with varied success. They include:

  • Singer/actor Rain first made headlines in North America when he made Time magazine's 2006 list of "100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World",[9] and entered into a mock-rivalry with Stephen Colbert.[10] In 2006, he performed sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York and at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and in 2007 he appeared on People magazine's list of the "Most Beautiful People." He then attempted to break into the North American movie business with much less success. He appeared in the 2008 move Speed Racer, before starring in Ninja Assassins in 2009.[11] Despite his continued stardom in Korea and throughout Asia, Rain's last North American movie was the critically-panned action thriller The Prince in 2014.
  • Actor Lee Byung-hun was cast as Storm Shadow in the first live-action G.I. Joe movie in 2009.[12] He went on to play the character in two more films, as well as co-starring in RED 2 and Terminator Genisys. He continues to balance successful acting careers in both Hollywood and South Korea.[13]
  • Singer BoA released her American debut single, "Eat You Up," in 2008, followed by an English-language album in 2009. However she was never able to gain success in the North America and by 2012 she had returned to focusing her career on Korea and Japan.[14]
  • Singer Se7en released several English-language singles between 2007 and 2009, but despite collaborations with star producers and a collaboration with Lil' Kim, he never broke into the US music market, and returned to a focus on Korea in 2010.[15][16]
  • Girl group Wonder Girls released an English version of their hit song, "Nobody." in 2009. It was the first track by a Korean group to enter the Billboard Hot 100.[17] They were the opening act for the Jonas Brothers on their 2009 World Tour.[18] However, injuries, line-up changes and hiatuses prevented them from capitalizing on this burgeoning North American success.

The 2010s

Fanfiction about K-Pop groups became popular among English-language fans beginning in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Some of the first big K-Pop fandoms on AO3 included DBSK, Super Junior, SHINee and Big Bang.

K-Pop fandom exploded into popularity between 2014 and 2016 with the bands NCT, EXO, and, of course BTS. As of July 22, 2021 the most popular K-Pop fandoms on AO3 were BTS (158,435 works), NCT (46,200 works), EXO (42,337 works), and SEVENTEEN (25,473 works)

While many K-dramas have become popular in English-speaking fandom, especially among vidders, none have really become breakout fandoms.

The 2020s

In the 2020s, K-pop groups have become even more popular with promotions in America becoming more common. Groups commonly promote on:

  • Magazines: Seventeen, WIRED, Seventeen, Elle, Cosmopolitan, People, GQ, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, Vogue
  • Media Companies: Buzzfeed Celeb, MTV, BUILD Series, Billboard, BBC, Good Morning America
  • Late Night Shows: Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Kelly Clarkson, Ellen Degeneres (show is no longer running)
  • YouTubers: FO Squad Kpop, REACT, Korean Englishmen
  • Radio Shows: Zach Sang, iHeart

In 2021, the world renowned K-drama Squid Game was released to critical acclaim for its criticism of the capitalist economic system and South Korean work culture. It gained many fans who found its strong characters and unique concept. The drama has become a worldwide phenomenon.


Outside Perceptions

Where the Fandom Lives

Twitter and Tumblr




Streaming Video Sites

  • Vlive, a video streaming platform used by celebrities in the Korean entertainment industry to live stream and connect with fans. Fans can send hearts, live chat, and pay for special content on this platform.
  • CaveTube is a Japanese video site. It is commonly used by videogame streamers.

Fan Activities

Fan Translations





  1. ^ mod post~ (Accessed August 8, 2009)
  2. ^ a b c Korean Wave. (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  3. ^ [<https://martinroll.com/resources/articles/asia/korean-wave-hallyu-the-rise-of-koreas-cultural-economy-pop-culture/ MartinRoll.com Korean Wave (Hallyu) – The Rise of Korea’s Cultural Economy & Pop Culture]. (Accessed July 22, 2021)
  4. ^ DBSK|Tohoshinki|TVfXQ|TVXQ on AO3 (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  5. ^ Super Junior on AO3 (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  6. ^ Girls' Generation on AO3 (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  7. ^ SHINee on AO3 (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  8. ^ Korea Times Music Festival on Wikipedia. (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  9. ^ Rain (Entertainer) on Wikipedia (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  10. ^ Rain and Colbert: The dance(Dance Revolution)-off.(Accessed August 8, 2009)
  11. ^ Ninja Assassin poster and trailer. (Accessed August 8, 2009)
  12. ^ Lee Byung-heon stills from GI Joe. (Accessed August 8, 2009)
  13. ^ Lee Byung-hun on Wikipedia (Accessed June 20, 2021)
  14. ^ BoA on Wikipedia Accessed June 20, 2021)
  15. ^ What happened to SE7EN returning to the US shortly? (Accessed August 28, 2009)
  16. ^ Seven on Wikipedia, (Accessed July 22, 2021)
  17. ^ Wonder Girls on Wikipedia, (Accessed July 22, 2021).
  18. ^ Wonder Girls are ready to make mexicans dance to nobody (Accessed August 28, 2009)