The Korean wave that started to get noticed in the late 1990 was hardly an accidental trend. In 1994 the South Korean minister for Culture set out to encourage a cultural expansion, shifting emphasis away from the manufacturing industry that was no longer as successful as hoped. Part of the reason for encouraging cultural development was simply a desire for financial success and commercial expansion; but removing the restriction on Japanese culture imports (which occurred in 1998) led some to fear that Korean culture would be overcome with this foreign influence. No wanting to be lost beneath the culture of their former rulers the South Korean Cultural Minister asked for substantial budget increases to further cultural development.
South Korea’s cultural development consisted of seeking out and training any young individuals who appeared to have talent. Teenagers, or sometimes even children aged nine to ten, thought to have potential were housed together and given singing, performance and chorography classes. Attention was paid to specifically grooming them for success in foreign markets. Estimates have 10% of these individuals obtaining a record deal and career in the music/entertainment industry.
It was in the year 2000 that the Korean boy band H.O.T. performed outside of their own country. Already highly successful back home this was the first of many successful South Korean Music acts. The influx of music and TV was so extreme that countries such as China deliberatly restricted the amount of Korean media shown to Chinese audiences.
Though H.O.T. disbanded soon after this a number of Korean Pop music acts (K-POP) quickly grew popular overseas. Some countries responded by restricting or ban music and TV programmes outright. But by the year 2011 K-pop videos on YouTube had surpassed the one billion mark. Even this figure seemed small a year later when PSY’s Gangnum style song passed the one billion mark and because the most viewed YouTube clip in history.