Hallayu On The South Korean Economy

Did you also read the news about BTS’ world tour? Well, the biggest boyband in the world BTS has announced its world tour. They are known for their choreography, lyrics, aesthetic music video, and, outfits. Their tickets were sold out in a matter of a few minutes. This is a matter of great pride for the band and also a great financial income. But BTS’ band members and BangTan aren’t the only people profiting off their fame. Experts have pointed out that the sale of their tickets acts as an inflow of foreign exchange for South Korea, which improves the economy as well. In the past, Sowell Korea has used its entertainment industry as imports and improved its economy.


The first time the term Hallyu Wave was coined was in the late 1990s. During the 1990s the world experienced a rise in global popularity and interest in Korean culture and pop culture.  The term Hallyu Wave (a Chinese word) refers to the increased interest in Korean pop (K-pop), Korean dramas (K-dramas), and the rising number of Korean brands, like Samsung, which are becoming players in the global arena.


In the 1990s, the most popular music in East was the Japanese pop (J-pop) or Hong Kong’s Cantopop. The mainstream success of pop music in Asia reached its peak in the 90s. But these markets seemingly lost their traction in the next millennial.

In the 2000s, South Korean culture thus found its way into wider Asian entertainment markets through films, fashion, and the increasingly popular Korean dramas (K-dramas). At the end of the 90s, the Asian financial crisis forced South Korea to limit its cultural imports from Japan. It started promoting its own culture. The big breakthrough of Korean culture-based imports happened with K-dramas like Winter Sonata and Autumn In My Heart gaining major followings in markets such as China and South-East Asia.

K-pop became popular in the boyband market, with super-groups such as TVXQ, SS501, and Super Junior debuting in the early 2000s. This helped in forming a cult-like fan following of K-pop.

In early 1999, Hallyu became one of the biggest cultural phenomena in Asia. The Hallyu effect was tremendous and contributed to 0.2% of Korea’s GDP in 2004. It amounted to approximately

USD 1.87 billion. In 2019, Hallyu boosted the Korean economy with an estimated USD 12.3 billion.

South Korea has a dedicated goal to become the world’s leading exporter of popular culture while achieving that, it also developed “soft power”. Soft power is a popular term coined in 1990 by Joseph Nye. It refers to the power a country wields through its image, rather than through hard force, this power is intangible.


Hallyu has been a blessing for Korea, in terms of its businesses, culture, and country image.

In the past two decades, South Korea has become very rich and very futuristic. In today’s time, South Korea has been ranked as the world’s 12th largest economy.

The most important factor that made way for Hallyu, was the Korean Government’s decision to lift the ban on foreign travel for Koreans. During the same time, the ban on foreign travel for Koreans was lifted. Asia (and South Korea) was facing a severe financial crisis in 1997-98.

The Asian financial crisis was a phase of bad debt, panic among lenders, and regional economic challenges. In 1997, the Korean government took a loan of USD 97 billion from the IMF (International Monetary Fund).

Only USD 19.5 billion was used, and the loan was paid back the loan three years before scheduled in 2001. Before the Asian financial crisis, South Korea had been a poor country. Therefore, defeating poverty was something it learned the hard way. Therefore, measures were taken by South Korea to pay back the loan and get back on track in record time.

The Asian Financial Crisis left Korea with a stain. Many global stakeholders started believing that Korea was in bad shape, so the country faced a loss in its foreign direct investments and tourism.

One of the consequences of the crisis was its effect on the Korean chaebols. Korean chaebols were highly diversified conglomerates that operated in all the sectors of the economy. The crisis forced these chaebols to restructure their business models by stripping away many of their business units. This step opened up the market and gave smaller players opportunities to explore other businesses.

Korea realized its dependence on its chaebols. Failing with chaebols would mean failing the country. President Kim Dae-Jung decided that information technology and popular culture would be the two key drivers for the future of Korea. The technology would help them create new industries apart from traditional manufacturing. On the other hand, popular culture would become an important export and it would be worth billions of dollars, while it would also rebrand Korea.


Managing Hallyu requires a careful study of its target audience. Most people who are interested in Korean culture belong to Asian countries. The Korean government studies these Asian countries, their economies, and their cultures closely to understand the best possible Korean Wave in different countries’ markets. No one understands different markets better than the Koreans.

The Korean government also actively manages Hallyu outside of Korea. They keep conducting different cultural festivals displaying Korean offerings. They also organize PR campaigns to publicize Korean culture and indirectly creates a conducive environment in the entertainment industry.

The Hallyu wave was a much-needed blessing for Korea to rise above the aftermath of the Korean War. With the current international attention on Korea and its creative economy, it is crucial for the Korean government to take advantage of all its entertainment and cultural products.

The growth of the Korean economy over the past 2 decades has been a fascinating one. Seeing how Korea continues to innovate and maintain the potential and popularity of the Korean Wave. This could further contribute to the continued success of Korean society, economy, and culture.





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