There’s no denying that the Hallyu wave has brought global attention to South Korea. South Korea’s films, television series, food, music, skincare, and the like have all become international sensations.
The term Hallyu (Korean wave), which was coined by the Chinese media in 2000 to describe the onslaught of Korean dramas and pop songs there, was quickly adopted by Korea too to refer to Korean entertainment content. Today, it is used to describe the gamut of content and products of Korean origin.
— The Korea Herald
With the spread of the Hallyu wave, K-Pop groups, Korean films, and K-Dramas are continually breaking records, making themselves household names.
But although the Oscar-winning film Parasite, which grossed approximately 263M USD, or the Emmy-winning K-Drama Squid Game may be the entertainment media that comes to mind when one thinks of the Hallyu wave, the origin of the movement can be traced back to a 1993 classic film.
Steven Spielberg‘s 1993 film Jurassic Park is preserved in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film was the highest-grossing film ever at the time of its release, and the mix of computer-generated imagery with animatronics garnered immense praise from critics.
In Steven Spielberg’s massive blockbuster, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are among a select group chosen to tour an island theme park populated by dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA. While the park’s mastermind, billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), assures everyone that the facility is safe, they find out otherwise when various ferocious predators break free and go on the hunt.
— Rotten Tomatoes’ synopsis of Jurassic Park
Along with its over twenty awards and critical acclaim, Jurassic Park is also largely credited with starting the Hallyu wave. Because of Jurassic Park‘s impressive financial success, which was higher than Hyundai‘s earnings at the time, the South Korean government realized the potential economic impact of a thriving entertainment industry. This led to a new emphasis on South Korean culture, with the government investing in developing the country’s entertainment industry.
 was the year the Korean government observed that the Steven Spielberg dinosaur blockbuster had made more money than Hyundai, the car behemoth that is a wellspring of national pride. So it began to pour investment into cinema, music, and theatre, building giant auditoriums and even regulating Seoul’s famous noreaebangs (karaoke bars) to protect K-Pop’s intellectual property.
— The Times
Since the beginning of the Hallyu wave, South Korean culture has spread across the globe, with Korean barbecue restaurants and Korean skincare becoming staples of Western culture. South Korea is even introducing a new type of travel visa, inspired mainly by the K-Pop and K-Drama fans flocking to the country.
Although Jurassic Park may have warned against dinosaurs’ release into the modern world, the global impact of a K-Drama like Squid Game or a K-Pop group like BTS proves that the Hallyu wave is not going extinct any time soon.
You can read about a possible new law that would impact the global consumption of South Korean media here.
You can read about a very different combination of K-Pop and Jurassic Park here.