Korean media deserves to be pushed to forefront


The first time I heard about South Korea was one night during study prep in middle school. I remember all my classmates talking about a Korean show called “Boys Over Flowers.” I thought it couldn’t be very interesting since it’s not even in English. Well, I was wrong.

 Korean media’s ability to represent real social issues through an entertaining piece of art is part of what makes it so popular today. 

Movies and shows like “Parasite” and “Squid Game” are not only excellent films to watch but they shed light on complex social issues that transcend geographic barriers, like the socioeconomic divide and poverty. 

This is what makes Korean films refreshing and keeps them at the top of your Netflix feed. 

For years, Korean entertainment has been doing what others have only scratched the surface of. “Squid Game,” “Parasite,” and the even lesser-known “Train to Busan” and “Veteran” don’t hesitate to critique the dark sides of society to create a disturbing story you can’t stop thinking about. 

This Korean wave is called “Hallyu.” Since 1999, Hallyu has become one of the biggest cultural phenomena—contributing approximately 1.87 billion USD to Korea’s economy, according to MartinRoll. 

The global popularity of South Korea’s cultural economy is very intentional.

According to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, South Korea dedicates resources to being the world’s leading exporter of popular culture as a way to develop its “soft power.” 

Soft power refers to the power a country wields through its image rather than through hard force. Due to South Korea’s small size as a country, they use their influence through Hallyu to be one of the most influential countries in the world.  

According to MartinRoll, Korea is one of the only countries to have a Ministry of Culture. Its budget is a staggering $5.5 billion, with the aim to boost economic growth particularly through growing the country’s cultural export industry. 

The Korean government also sponsors 20-30% of a $1 billion investment fund earmarked to nurture and export popular culture.  

South Korea simply knows how to cater to an audience. The country and their creative industry knows what the people want and need to see.  

K-pop bands like BTS, Twice and Blackpink have become common names around the world. They are paving the way for younger K-pop groups to become a force in the western world. With the massive popularity of “Squid Game,” people that have never watched Korean dramas are now starting to become engrossed in Hallyu. 

South Korea has something amazing and they know it. With the Ministry of Culture on its side, Hallyu will continue to captivate audiences and spread messages of hope around the world.