South Korea Introduces Hallyu Visa—Here’s What That Means

It’ll provide many great opportunities.

South Korea is introducing a new type of travel visa, and it’s largely due to Korean entertainment.

The Korean wave has become an influential global phenomenon since the start of the 21st century, heavily impacting the contemporary cultures, music industry, film industry, television industry, and behavioral aspects of various people throughout the world. As of the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, the Korean wave is led by K-pop with stand-out acts such as BTS and Blackpink followed by K-dramas.

— Wikipedia

From left: BTS’s Jimin, J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, Suga, V, and RM

The new visa program is set to be introduced by South Korea this year with the goal “to draw global cultural talents.” As a result, it’s been referred to as the Hallyu visa program, named in reference to the “Hallyu” or “Korean wave” of entertainment, such as K-Pop, K-Dramas, and movies that have grown increasingly popular worldwide.

The Korean wave or K wave, a neologism, literally meaning “wave/flow of Korea”) is the increase in global popularity of South Korean culture since the 1990s. First driven by the spread of K-dramas and K-pop across East, Southeast and South Asia during its initial stages, the Korean Wave evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon, carried by the Internet and social media and the proliferation of K-pop music videos on YouTube. While some sources attribute the term Hallyu, a variation of a Japanese expression using Ryu (流) as a postfix to refer ‘~way’, ‘~style’, ‘~group’,  to being first used by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in South Korea in 1999, when the ministry produced a music CD titled in Chinese 韓流—Song from Korea; other scholarly sources attribute the term’s ascendance from Korean television dramas first airing on Chinese television in 1997, naming the phenomenon hanliu (simplified Chinese: 韩流; traditional Chinese: 韓流; pinyin: Hánliú), meaning “Korean wave”.

— Wikipedia

“Squid Game” poster

The Hallyu visa program is specifically designed as a response to the Korean wave. So, it is meant “to support the entry of foreigners eager to learn about the Korean culture and entertainment industry.” 

Since the turn of the 21st century, South Korea has emerged as a major exporter of popular culture and tourism, aspects which have become a significant part of its burgeoning economy. The growing popularity of Korean pop culture in the world was at least partly driven by the South Korean government supporting its creative industries through subsidies and funding for start-ups, as a form of soft power with the goal of becoming a leading global exporter of culture in line with Japanese and British culture, a niche that the United States has dominated for nearly a century. In 2014, the South Korean government allocated 1% of its annual budget to cultural industries and raised a $1 billion fund to nurture popular culture

— Wikipedia

Incheon Airport

A senior Justice Ministry official explained the purpose behind the program, and it’s a response to not only the Korean Wave but also the pandemic.

The Justice Ministry has been pushing for the Hallyu visa program on the back of soaring demand for education on Korea’s cultural content, to add further momentum to the Korean Wave and support the pandemic-hit local culture and music industry…

—  Justice Ministry official to The Korea Herald

BTS at United Nations | @bts_bighit/Twitter

To be eligible for the program, you must plan to stay for longer than 90 days in South Korea and enroll in entertainment-related education. At this time, no further details have been provided regarding the Hallyu visa. According to the official, we will know in the first half of 2022 regarding the maximum duration of stay and any possible age requirements.

Netizens are already anticipating the Hallyu visa. It’s giving many a lot to look forward to.

The success of the Korean wave is also due to the development of social networking services and online video sharing platforms, which have allowed the Korean entertainment industry to reach a sizable overseas audience since the 2000s. Korean dramas enjoy widespread availability via streaming services which often offer subtitles in multiple languages. Many K-dramas have been adapted throughout the world, achieving notable popularity in some countries. K-dramas have attracted attention for their fashion, style and culture all over the world.

— Wikipedia

Kim Seon Ho (left) and Shin Min Ah (right) in “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”

English beauty YouTuber James Welsh shared, “It was refreshing to see men are well represented in Korea’s cosmetics industry and ingredients used in Korean beauty products have kept me interested for over 10 years.” So, he hopes to be granted one of the new visas to learn more about K-Beauty.

James | James Welsh/YouTube

Student and YouTuber Anna said that it will help even more foreigners visit Korea. Additionally, it’ll give them opportunities. Previously, she studied as an exchange student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Many go to Korea for working holidays or language exchange programs. And from what I have heard, an E-6 visa (a long-term work visa for the culture and entertainment sectors) is difficult to get due to its strict requirements. So (the Hallyu visa) will enable more foreigners interested in Korea to study and live there.

— Anna

Singh, an Indian student at Yonsei University’s graduate school of international studies, believes it’s another opportunity that will help to produce even greater content online.

The new scheme will excite foreign influencers on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube who produce contents about Korea … Before arriving here in 2019, I watched many videos of Korean language, food and beauty products on YouTube posted by foreign nationals here. They helped me understand many things about the country.

— Singh

Yue, a Chinese student at Kyung Hee University’s graduate school of Korean Language and Literature, hopes that the Hallyu visa will allow her to pursue a dream of working in the film industry. She believes that working in Korea will equip her, even more, to return to her home country for a successful career.

It’s been almost five years since I came here. Chinese students like me usually go back to China to find jobs after earning degrees in Korea.

— Yue

Behind-the-scenes of Oscar-winning film “Parasite.” | Neon

While many people are excited about this program, there’s still some hesitancy. An official at the South Korean Embassy in the Philippines shared how COVID-19 is continuing to impact it in many ways.

The Philippines has been designated by the Korean government as one of the countries subject to quarantine reinforcement since April 2020, so the issuance of visas for entering Korea is restricted. Demand for the Hallyu (visa) will depend on the virus situations.

— South Korean Embassy in the Philippines official

Stay tuned for more updates.

Source: The Korean Herald and Wikipedia

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