The Korean Wave Washes onto Shore


Nahya Pelito, Staff Writer

Millions of fans chanting across the globe. Sounds of a catchy pop song in a foreign tongue. Eye-popping music videos skyrocketing millions of views overnight. Binge watching K-Drama.

The Korean Wave has hit.

The Korean Wave is based on “the phenomenon of Korean entertainment and popular culture rolling all over the world with pop music, TV dramas, and movies,” according to Ranging from the latest K-Drama episode of, “Scarlet Heart: Ryeo” to EXO’s hit single, “Monster”, South Korean entertainment has it all.

“I think the growing popularity of K-pop is a more positive thing,” said junior Michelle Wang. “It exposes Westerners to cultures different from their own. However, it can become negative as a very small minority start to sort of fetish-ize Asian culture.”

There are some crazed fans out there who go overboard as they invade artists’ privacy by stalking and purposely stirring up fan wars on social media. These fans are termed as “sasaeng” fans.

Fortunately, there are supportive, positive fans out there who are mature enough to have the respect for artists.

Wang is also a fan of the South Korean boy band, BTS. The number of fandoms joining in on the phenomenon of Korean entertainment has increased over the years. Carrie Jackson, adviser of Vista’s Model United Nations Club and World Cultures Club, has witnessed this growth in her own classes as well.

“I find that a lot of younger people are addicted to K-pop. It’s funny. I hear a lot of kids in my classes talking about the new K-pop albums coming out. It’s common conversation now, whereas before it was like ‘Oh, what are you into? That’s unusual’,” said Jackson.

So, what makes K-pop and Korean dramas so addicting?

Popular groups like BIGBANG, BTS and SEVENTEEN are known to give their audiences powerful beats and dedicated productions in their performances. BIGBANG’s 뱅뱅뱅 (BANG BANG BANG)’ and BTS’ ‘불타오르네 (Fire)’ show worldwide popularity with up to 192 million views on YouTube.

On a larger scale, BLACKPINK is the first K-pop girl group ever to earn a spot on Canadian Hot 100 in November of 2016. The four-membered rookie group’s new single, “Playing With Fire”, placed 92nd on the charts.

A lot of younger people tend to gravitate towards music that makes them want to dance. Especially with the rising of electronic dance music, K-pop is kind of more light and fun,” said Jackson. “As much as K-pop is also made fun of at the same time, it’s a guilty pleasure for a lot of people.”

This gravitation can be seen with BTS’ full-length album titled, ‘Wings’ which placed twenty-sixth on Top 200 Albums in October, as stated by Billboard. Who knows what else South Korean entertainment has to offer to the public if one K-pop boy group has the capability to reach such achievements.

Korean dramas hold a high popularity rank in many parts of the world. It is the bridge that connects oversea fans to the Korean style of television romance, comedy, history, action, thriller; you name it.

“Occasionally, I watch some Korean dramas like ‘I Hear Your Voice’ or ‘Cheese in the Trap’. I really like Korean variety shows, like Running Man,” said Wang. “I think they are very different from American TV shows, as Korean TV dramas are a lot more cheesy and dramatic.”

There are broadcasted channels that range from reality shows, crime, drama, cooking, documentaries, animation series, and much more in the United States. However, Korean dramas are mostly known for their storylines of romance.

Shows like “Pinnochio”, “High School – Love On” and “My Love From Another Star” are three of the top twenty most popular Asian dramas of all time.

The classical love story of two high school students of different social classes catches the hearts of millions of viewers abroad. Ranked as the number one all-time favorite, “The Heirs” premiered its first episode internationally in 2013; gaining views from Canada to Latin America, to the United States.

As foreign and unusual this worldwide phenomenon may seem, some people may develop a special connection to the music or a soft spot in their hearts for the drama. Still, there is a possibility of a greater global connection that could unify music and television lovers all around the world.