In Foreign Policy, Mark Russell notes what while Americans might be learning about K-pop for the first time, Korean pop culture has been a big deal in Asia and elsewhere for quite a while:
Korean pop culture may not (yet) turn heads in Los Angeles or London, but its impact — economic as well as cultural — across the developing world is startling. First taking off in China and Southeast Asia in the late 1990s, but really spiking after 2002, Korean TV dramas and pop music have since moved to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and now even parts of South America. “Gangnam Style,” a music video by the rapper/satirist PSY, has been viewed 292 million times since it was released in July. Since then he’s been welcomed with open arms, and has been spotted teaching several celebrities his iconic “horsey dance.”
Indeed, the rise of K-Pop is the bellwether of a variety of trends that are changing the global economy (and emerging markets in particular) in fundamental ways. Its success as a product – but, more importantly, as a cultural brand promoting Korean exports ranging from soft drinks to cosmetics to consumer electronics — suggests that Western countries aren’t likely to have a lock on the hearts and wallets of developing countries for long. More generally, it illustrates the new reality that the North-South pattern of trade and cultural exchange that has dominated the world since the ascendance of European colonialism is giving way and making room for unexpected soft power.
Read the rest on your own.