The Republic of Korea has become more known to the international community in the late 20th and 21st centuries. The majority of people in Canada have personal connections to Korea’s electronic and/or automotive industries. But there’s another major export of Korea, one that only grows as time goes on.
This ‘export’ is Korea’s Culture Wave, called Hallyu. Coined in the 1990’s by the Chinese, Hallyu is a name for the collection of Korean film, music, and cuisine industries blended together to create a captivating pop culture ready to enchant the masses.
K-Pop: Pop genre originating from the 1990’s. This style of music was introduced to mainstream North American media via Psy’s now trademark Gangnam Style, although South Korea’s neighbors have been enjoying the genre since it’s inception. Groups are categorized be generations. First Generation idol groups such as H.O.T., Seo Taiji and Boys, G.O.D., S.E.S., Fin.K.L., Fly to the Sky are some of the more revered groups, a lot of today’s Kpop idols were inspired by these titans of early K-pop history. Most of these groups were in their prime during the 1990’s to early 2000’s, and the majority of the groups from this generation have disbanded or have seen their members go solo. Second Generation idol groups include SNSD, Super Junior, Big Bang, 2NE1, 2PM, KARA, Infinite, SHINee, MBLAQ, Brown Eyed Girls, most of which are still active today and have helped spread the Hallyu wave to extreme lengths across the globe. The current generation of idols includes BTS, EXO, GOT7, Twice, Red Velvet, Seventeen, Gfriend, VIXX -to name a few- which are admired for their performances across the globe, even here in Canada.
I attended a K-pop fan meet for idol group GOT7 this past November, and there is definitely no exaggeration to the charms of K-pop and its idols. The fan meet was so de-stressing, I felt so serene after the event, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the group at the time. Having people come to your country to sing to you and make sure you’re having fun, even if for a short time, was such a great experience. That’s what K-pop seems to do so well.
Below: Girl group Brown Eyed Girls performing on stage, 2013
K-Drama: Sing a bar of the now infamous “almost paradise~” and you’ll be able to find a K-drama fan almost anywhere. K-dramas are tv shows produced in South Korea. They originated in the 1960’s but changed the format to become the way they are made today. These shows are normally one season, ranging from 8-24 episodes depending on the drama. There are different types of dramas, ranging from rom-com to action to historical dramas, ones that are based/inspired by Korean history. Cliche and full of plot twists, Kdramas have a way of capturing the attention of the viewers from a single episode and holding that attention even after the end of the show. Classic Kdramas include Boys over Flowers, Coffee Prince, My love from Another Star, Doctor Stranger, some of which are accessible via Netflix. 2016 was an excellent year for well written, well-cast dramas such as Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, and Scarlet Heart Ryeo. 2017 has had a great kickoff to the year with shows such as Hwarang, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, and Lovely Love Lie.
Below: Cast of Hwarang at Hwarang press conference, 2017
K-Cuisine: Korean food has seen an increase in popularity overseas in the 21st century. Dishes like Bibimbap (비빔밥), Bulgogi (불고기), Kimchi Stew (김치찌개), are just a couple of dishes created in the Korea that has become favourites of people all over the world. Larger cities, and/or cities with a high Korean population are more likely to hold ingredients commonly used in K-cuisine but don’t worry if you can’t find kimchi in your local grocery. There are now sites that will send you ingredients for some dishes for you to make at home. With the usage of the internet, discovering recipes to create Korean cuisine at home has never been easier. Cities in Canada like Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Ottawa have restaurants that serve Korean food if you’re hesitant to make it yourself, or if you’re having a night out with the gang. After all, nothing says K-Cuisine like Pork Belly (삼겹살) and Soju with your friends after a long day at work.
When friends want to go out to eat, the first thing that pops into my head is Korean Cuisine. Simple, yet delicious dishes that fill the stomach to its brim. One of the restaurants I go to in Ottawa is MuGoongHwa Garden, I actually went with some of the other bloggers recently. I enjoyed every second of it, my taste buds were treated to a feast.
Below: Bossam (보쌈) with appropriate side dishes
These three aspects are just a portion of Korea’s Cultural wave. From songs with catchy lyrics to tear-jerking tv scenes to perfectly marinated meat, the Hallyu wave is sure to make you feel satisfied.