Hallyu… what? Let’s start by talking about what Hallyu (한류) is and what does it have to do with the Korean film industry.
A more detailed explanation deserves a separate post, but let’s just say that hallyu means “Korean wave”, which refers to the tremendous cultural expansion of Korea around the globe.
Where it has been most evident is in television series, known as k-dramas or doramas and in music, mainly k-pop.
The rising “Korean wave”
The main audience for hallyu is in South Korea itself, being more than 50% of the consumers.
But in the past two or three decades it has been gaining such popularity in Western countries that streaming platforms like Netflix have specific categories for Korean films and series.
However, despite television and musical achievements, it was the Korean film industry what turned South Korea into a major producer in the world of entertainment.
When at the 2020 Oscars, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasites won the Best Picture award, the Korean film industry received an additional historical recognition: it was the first non-English language film to get the coveted statuette.
The “young” Korean film industry
After decades of a military dictatorship, South Korea became a democracy not too long ago, between 1987 and 1998.
With democracy, the South Korean film industry began to get more opportunities and to obtain more funding and distribution, while less censorship.
Filmmakers who grew up during the military dictatorship had long consumed American cinema and more artistic Korean films. And that mix of influences led them to create many blockbusters.
Their success was in creating films with actual Korean themes and plots. The result was that they garnered rave reviews and top grossing.
Many people believe that hallyu began with the film Shiri, a thriller about North Korean spies working in South Korea. For others, it was Park Chan-wook’s JSA: Joint Security Area, which is also about the relationship between South and North Korea.
In the 1990s, the Korean film industry began to expand rapidly, and genres other than thrillers, dramas, and horror films began to be explored. Romantic and comedy films emerged, such as 2001’s My Sassy Girl, which had its Hollywood remake.
Busan, the home of Hallyuwood
The port city of Busan (부산), pronounced “pu: san”, is the second largest in South Korea. It is also home to the Busan International Film Festival, which is one of the most important in Asia.
Since 2011, this film festival has its own permanent venue, the Busan Cinema Center, which includes an open-air theater with 4000 seats, four indoor screens under a ceiling covered with LED lights, archive, conference rooms…
There is no doubt that the Korean film industry has come to stay. Busan is the capital of Hallyuwood and, along with Hollywood and Bollywood, it has become one of the main film producers in the world.
With South Korea’s growing influence in the show business, more and more people of all ages are drawn to its culture and language.
The reach of the Korean wave, however, doesn’t end iin the show business. Korean beauty routines, or k-beauty, also confirm that Korean is trending.
Now is the time to learn Korean, as it opens the doors to many and fascinating opportunities.
At our school of Asian languages, Hanyu Chinese School, we offer you personalized Korean classes with native teachers. With our online courses, so you can study from the comfort of your home, at the time that suits you best.
You can contact your teacher after classes to clear any doubts. And lessons can be recorded if you want, so you can re-watch them as many times as you need.
Contact us and ask for a free lesson!