For those that have been part of the Hallyu wave phenomenon ever since the early 2000s, we have seen the different types of entertainment media that was roped in. Arguably, the wave truly started with the release of the all-too-popular Boys Over Flowers series and several other dramas, along with the breakthrough in western media with Wondergirl’s hit Nobody. Now, the Hallyu wave has combined Korean movies into the mix, with the critically acclaimed Train to Busan (2016) and Snowpiercer (2013) into the mix.
It’s been two decades since the Hallyu Wave started and we’ll delve into some of the reasons why you should consider being part of the wave too.
1. The Unconventional
When it came to Korean entertainment, a certain image was often perpetuated. Especially when it came to music, the image that K-pop is expected to portray is often bubblegum pop-esque. Yet, nowadays, such a misconception no longer exists. Psy’s ubiquitous 2012 hit, Gangnam Style, solidified how multifaceted Korean entertainment is.
Korean cinema has no qualms in venturing out of that image. In fact, amongst film lovers, Korean cinema is well known for its action-packed scenes with compelling storylines. For those yearning to watch something as electrifying as Train to Busan, you may want to check out Oldboy. Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy (2003) is a neo-noir action thriller film about a man seeking vengeance after having been kidnapped. While it may seem like any typical film, this cult-favourite has won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, listed as one of the best 2000s movies to watch.
Another film that may take you by surprise is Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019), a much more recent film. This black comedy thriller film was the first Korean film to have won the Palme d’Or, receiving the honour at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Delving further into Korean media will give you the realization that it has more to offer than a mere bubblegum image of pretty faces. Be prepared to be surprised.
2. Breathtaking Visuals
If the story does not reel you in, their breathtaking visuals will. Korean entertainment companies understand how compelling visuals are great to pull an audience in. They spend a lot of time, effort and money in the production and we can see this just by looking at Korean music videos. The sets are, sometimes, worthy of a short feature film. Check out BTS’s Blood Sweat Tears to see an amazing production or IU’s Twenty-three for some quirky yet quality animation and visual effects.
If not, their faces and fashion are more than enough to capture your interest. The industry hires some of the most stunning stars who also have the talent to back them up. Korea has also put itself at the frontier of the fashion industry. Do we need to say more?
3. Learn Korean
There was a time when Korean entertainment was mocked for its English usage, especially when there were awkward English one-liners in every K-pop song. Well, not anymore!
If anything, with how big the Hallyu wave has gotten, it might be in your best interests to pick up the Korean language. You cannot undermine the influence that Korea and its entertainment scene have on other countries. The very fact that Hollywood has shown interest in remaking movies such as Train to Busan, and Simon Cowell’s desire to create UK-pop to rival K-pop, shows that Korea’s media is not to be taken lightly.
If you want to learn the Korean language casually, you can start by enjoying what their entertainment scene has to offer. Listen to a few of the top Korean songs or watch a few of their dramas. However, if you are seriously looking into learning the language, it’d be best to enrol in a Korean class. You can consider Sejong Korean Language School, Singapore’s leading Korean Language School with Korean lessons for beginners up to more advanced levels. More than just a ‘phase’, picking a language is always beneficial no matter the intention behind it.
Other than its prominent quality entertainment, Korean media has also led to racial diversification in mainstream media. This alone has garnered overwhelming support from audiences all over the world. It’s been two decades since the Hallyu wave started, and there are no signs of it stopping.