It’s official: the Korean Wave has taken over the world.
But what, exactly, is Hallyu/Korean Wave?
Who started it?
Without further ado, here are the answers to these and the rest of 13 most asked questions about Hallyu.
1. What is “Hallyu”?
“Hallyu” is the exact term for the “wave” — specifically, “Korean wave” — that’s been sending us all drooling and hyperventilating for the past decade or so.
The Korean Wave or Hallyu refers to the global fame of South Korea’s cultural economy exporting pop culture and entertainment — from music to online games to comics/cartoons, to TV dramas and movies.
Hallyu also encompasses Korean beauty products (“K-Beauty”) and Korean cuisine.
Well, basically almost everything Korean.
“Hallyu” is actually a Chinese term which literally translates to “Korean Wave.” It is a way for South Korea to develop its “soft power,” or what you call the ability to entice and co-opt, rather than use force.
2. How did Hallyu/Korean Wave start? Who did it?
The Hallyu that we know of today is actually “Hallyu 2.0” — the “New Korean Wave.”
Hallyu 2.0 started around 2007, supposedly as a result of South Korea taking advantage of digital technologies and social media. The term, however, wasn’t used until August of 2010.
Japanese media coined it after the Korean girl band Girl’s Generation’s successful concert at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
Some analysts have agreed that this trend — Hallyu/Korean Wave — began in Taiwan in the late 1990s. It took place when the surprise popularity of Clon, a South Korean dance music duo, ignited an interest in Korean pop, followed by Korean TV shows.
Soon Korean TV shows’ popularity began to spread not only in Japan but China as well, with other countries jumping on the bandwagon. In the early 2000s, the trend has reached India and America.
And the rest is history.
3. Why are K-Dramas so addictive?
K-Dramas have unique connected storylines, predictable and yet catchy plots, and ooh — the eye-candy cast! And the soundtrack they come with are just as mouth-watering. Another huge plus is the number of episodes that’s a lot shorter than most American TV series.
4. Do Korean actors and actresses really kiss in K-Dramas?
Normally, what you see is a simple lip press, no actual puckering.
When you watch the scene from a different angle, you will notice that the actors just barely press lips, if at all. Sometimes you can tell they don’t actually kiss at all.
This is not always the case, however. There are steamy kissing scenes from K-Dramas that make us blush to the roots of our hair.
5. How do Korean actors cry so easily?
Some actresses have revealed their “secret” to feeling weepy for successful water works when acting. All they do is recall moments of despair — and voila! Open sesame, tear ducts.
Well, that sounds easy.
6. Why do Hallyu stars hide their relationships?
We can only speculate. But here’s an overview of these speculations:
Hallyu stars hide their personal/romantic affairs [allegedly] due to stern contracts with their entertainment company.
Entertainment companies in South Korea have extensive contract provisions for managing their talents. This may include an agreement that the celebrity cannot be involved in a romantic relationship — or at least not blatantly flaunt it.
7. Why is there an entertainment agency behind every Korean star?
These agencies hire actors/idols from the time they pass the audition. The agency provides everything the stars need — from basic necessities to education and training.
These expenses are charged to the actors/idols, which they will pay from their earnings until all debts are cleared.
8. Who is the richest Hallyu actor?
Kim Soo-Hyun, with a whooping net worth of around $1.2 billion.
He is the highest paid Korean actor.
9. Why do Hallyu celebrities go to military?
All male South Korean citizens between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to serve in the military.
It is the law and not even the biggest Hallyu supernovas are above it.
10. Why are K-Pop stars so skinny?
Strict nutritionist-approved diet. K-Pop idols are very meticulous with their lifestyle and diet.
11. How do Hallyu celebrities get such white skin?
Decades before Hallyu was even a zygote, Koreans have already had white skin. It has always been fashionable to have it.
Many, if not all, Hallyu celebrities pay wads of cash to achieve the desired skin color (and texture).
12. Why do they say “fighting” in K-Dramas?
What you actually hear is “Hwaiting!” It’s a Korean word of encouragement or support, derived from a Konglish (Korean English) adoption of the English word “fighting.”
“Hwaiting!” is popularly translated in English as “Come on!” or “Let’s go!”
This expression is commonly paired with a fist pump.
13. What does “oppa” mean?
This term is used by a girl to address an older guy, blood relation or not.
Directly translated, oppa means “older brother.”