Hallyu - The Korean Wave

Hallyu, literally translated as "the flow of Korea," refers to the global increase in popularity of Korean culture. K-Pop and K-Dramas are broadcast throughout the world and have contributed to Korea's recently booming tourist industry. Songs like Psy's Gangnam Style helped make K-Pop well known in the West, but K-Pop has been on the rise since the early 90s. With TIME Magazine saying that K-Pop is Korea's greatest export it's no surprise that Korea's music industry hopes to become the number one producer of music in the world over the next few decades. A few other interesting facts about Korea you might not know featured here.

Below are a few more pictures from my time in Korea:

A portrait featured on many tourist maps - a perfect representation of old meets new discussed in my first Korea post

As many of you know, MERS hit Korea in mid May 2015 and the number of cases and deaths from the virus grew quickly. Though the outbreak is now under control, the MERS outbreak was devastating for Korea's tourism industry. Thousands of people canceled their summer trips and the government plans to inject 19 billion dollars into the economy after the outbreak. Signs like these were posted all over Seoul  accompanied with hand sanitizer and free face masks. All tourism activities were free for the month of July in order to encourage Korean tourists to come out and get back to normal life.  

These scooters with a carriage on the back were a popular mode of transportation in Seoul. 

The subway system was the most difficult I have ever seen. Each station has 5-12 exits that bring you to completely different streets. While challenging it was a cheap way to get around :)

A Hyundai truck in Itaewon filled with fruits for sale

Shelters and emergency gear were all over Korea in public places. In the cabinet to the right are gas masks, food and water and other supplies in the event you are stuck in the subway system during a true emergency. Korea holds semi-regular drills in the event of emergencies for all kinds of disasters. Though I could not get a clear answer on what specific emergencies they anticipate, one Korean told me that they hold drills in part because of the North Korean threat. Young South Korean men also have an obligatory two to three year service to the military.  

The neighborhood I stayed in was known as the area for the elderly. Sights like the one above were not uncommon. Older gentlemen huddled around to see a product being sold on the street or drinking at the street restaurants near my hotel. 

While in Korea I met a group of ladies at the top of Seoul Tower Park. Fika and Vannary (back left and right) live in the U.S. while Jane (front right) is Korean and currently lives in Seoul for studies. They invited me along for dinner and I gladly accepted as I was promised fried chicken and beer, a Korean go-to meal. 

Featured on the left is a ddeokbokki with muscles and french fries. On the right is pork cutlet and fried chicken. Meals in Korea are not individual but are shared by the group. 

Seoulites eating street food and Soju on a Friday night. 

Gangnam Train Station highlighting the very popular Gangnam Style Music Video. The Gangnam neighborhood is known to be a very wealthy area of the city. 

Makegeolli - Korean rice alcohol, a popular beverage when sharing a meal with friends.  

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Makegeolli is served in chilled "bowls"

On the far left, is a kimchi pancake. Jane is cutting it using knives but usually it is pealed apart using your chopsticks. In the middle is Tteokgalbi with balls of sticky rice. On the far right is fishcake soup which is served on a hotplate. All absolutely delicious! 

Shaved ice - a very popular Korean dessert traditionally served with ground nut powder (on the left) but it can also be served with fruit, cheesecake pieces, and anything else tasty and delicious!

I was so lucky to meet such lovely ladies in Seoul - they made the experience that much more fun! Also pictured here is Seonhye (far left) who joined us the second time around for delicious food! Thanks, ladies!