The Hallyu Wave and Its Impact in Australia
This East Asian country has exerted its influence in a way that has taken the entire world by storm.
This is the word used to describe the popularisation of Korean culture around the globe. The ‘Hallyu Wave’, or ‘Korean Wave’, refers to the popularity increase of Korean entertainment and pop culture.
If you visit South Korea’s CBD areas, you’d likely hear Korean pop music (K-pop) played at every corner and Korean celebrity cardboard cutouts promoting products on the streets.
Pop culture is a very important aspect of Korean culture and this has expanded beyond the country’s borders.
Alongside Korean TV dramas, movies and cuisine, K-pop is a key feature of the Hallyu Wave. According to Korea.net, K-pop started gaining international attention with Chinese teenagers in 1997 through a radio program named Seoul Music Room that was broadcasted in Beijing.
The worldwide success of K-pop acts such as PSY and BTS in recent years has further consolidated K-pop as having a major influence on the international music and pop culture scene.
Following its popularisation, we have started to see the influence of K-pop on other pop music in Asia. We can even ask the question, is it now setting an example for other Asian pop?
The hit survival show, Produce 101 aired its 1st season in South Korea in 2016. The show’s format featured 101 trainees who battled it out to become a member of a temporary K-pop group.
The unique structure of the show made it a success. This led to not only 3 more Korean seasons, but also China and Japan adopting the concept for their own versions of the show.
In the Philippines, where the Hallyu Wave has hit hard, a Filipino boy group named SB19 releases Pinoy pop (P-pop) music inspired by K-pop. They were even trained by a Korean entertainment company!
Why exactly has K-pop achieved such astounding international success? Compared to other pop music, what makes it different?
High Production Values
If you’ve ever watched a K-pop music videos, you’d immediately notice its high quality. Korean entertainment companies are well-known for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their artists’ MVs and the result is a video of top notch quality.
Just take a look at top girl group, BLACKPINK’s Kill This Love MV.
Compared to Western pop artists, K-pop artists, idols as they are called, are trained in singing, dancing, rap and acting among many other things. If accepted into an entertainment company, idol trainees undergo vigorous training until they are deemed ready for debut.
They are even trained on how to appeal to the public on TV variety shows, a major part of the Korean entertainment industry.
K-Pop Fan Culture
The experience of being a fan of a K-pop artist has many differences to being a Western artist fan. The ways fans can engage with and support their artists may be a contributor to K-pop’s immense popularity.
Many K-pop idols use a platform called V Live to connect with their fans through livestream chat sessions.
Besides concerts and world tours, fans can see their idols perform on weekly music shows. At these shows, idols have the chance to win the show for that week in a way that fans can contribute to through voting or buying their physical albums.
The albums in themselves are packed with goodies such as photocards and photobooks which sets them apart from Western artist albums.
Hallyu Wave In Australia
From Australian-born K-pop idols to K-pop merchandise stores, the influence of the Korean Wave in Australia is evident.
With the rapid growth of K-pop in the mid-2000s with groups like SNSD, Big Bang and Super Junior, Australia began to welcome the Hallyu Wave.
In more recent years, Australia has made itself known on the map for K-pop artists to include in their world tour locations. In 2017, the major Korean wave convention, KCON, was held for the first time in Australia.
Famous K-pop idols such as BLACKPINK’s Rosé and Stray Kids’ Bang Chan and Felix were all raised in Australia and they’re not the only ones!
In many CBD areas, colourful K-pop merchandise stores lined with posters can be found blasting the latest K-pop hits.
If you visit Sydney’s International Convention Centre, you’ll also likely find members of Sydney’s K-pop fan community practising cover dances.
We had a behind-the-scenes look at how a local dance crew, HORIZON, films their cover videos.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that K-pop has become a global phenomenon. With its influence only growing every year, would you ride the Hallyu Wave?
Bio: Catherine Li is a proud Chinese-Australian currently studying a Journalism and International Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. Being of hybrid Asian background, she has strong interests in Asian culture which she hopes to use to bridge the distance between Asia and Australia.