Hallyu (Korean Wave)
A term now widely used to refer to the popularity of Korean entertainment and culture across Asia and other parts of the world, Hallyu or the “Korean Wave” first appeared during the mid-1990s after Korea entered into diplomatic relations with China in 1992 and Korean TV dramas and pop music gained great popularity in Chinese-speaking communities. When one of the first successful TV dramas, What Is Love?, was aired by CCTV in 1997, it had an audience rating of 4.2%, meaning that over 150 million Chinese viewers watched it.
Korean pop music, especially dance music, began to gain popularity among Chinese teenagers after it was introduced in earnest in 1997 by a radio program called Seoul Music Room broadcast from Beijing. The decisive moment in igniting Korean pop culture fever in China was the concert of Korean boy band HOT, held at the Beijing Workers’ Gymnasium in February 2000. Korean news reports used the term Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, in describing this concert. The Korean Wave acknowledged in an article published by Beijing Youth Daily as early as November 1999, began to finally be recognized by Koreans themselves from this point.
The Korean Wave landed in Japan in 2003 when the KBS TV drama series Winter Sonata was aired via NHK. The drama became an instant mega hit, making its male hero, Yon Sama, a household name, compelling his enthusiastic Japanese fans to visit various film locations, including Namiseom Island, in Korea.
The ‘Korean Wave’ craze has expanded to Korean traditional culture, food, literature, and language, creating more and more enthusiasts. A great majority of Hallyu-related organizations are K-Pop fan clubs, but there are also various communities of people who are interested in Korean dramas, food, tourism, and more. As of December 2017, a total of 73.12 million people in 92 countries joined these organizations across Asia, Oceania, the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Source: Korean Culture and Information Service 'Facts about Korea'