|Japanese fans cheer during MAMA in Japan, the global Korean pop music awards ceremony, held at Saitama Japan Saitama Super Arena in this Dec. 12 file photo. Courtesy of CJ ENM|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
The number of global fans of "hallyu," or the Korean Wave, has exceeded 89 million in 113 countries, a government-affiliated foundation said Thursday.
The Korea Foundation's global hallyu data from 2018 revealed that there are an estimated 89.19 million fans of Korean culture around the world, a 22 percent increase from 2017's estimated 73.12 million fans.
The foundation said that last year's jump was largely in part due to the popularity of Korean boy group BTS.
BTS has risen to unprecedented stardom in the U.S., reigniting hallyu and toppling Asian stereotypes. The group topped the Billboard 200 albums chart last year and becoming the first Korean group to receive a Grammy nomination.
The increase in the number of fans also comes as a result of rising accessibility of various genres of Korean pop culture, including K-pop, K-beauty and K-food.
It also reported that there were 1,843 hallyu fan clubs in 113 countries worldwide, excluding Korea, as of December 2018.
The foundation said it regards organizations of global devotees of Korean singers, actors, culture and food, as well as taekwondo clubs and Korean culture societies at universities as hallyu fan clubs.
The largest number of K-pop fans live in Asia and Oceania (70.59 million members at 457 fan clubs), followed by the Americas (11.8 million members at 712 clubs), then Europe (6.57 million members at 534 clubs). Africa and the Middle East (230,000 members at 140 clubs) have the least reported fans.
In Japan, the number of hallyu fans tripled to exceed 300,000, while robust growth was still maintained in other parts of Asia.
Activities by hallyu fan clubs persisted in Europe and Latin America, while the number of hallyu fans grew steadily in Africa and the Middle East, according to the report.
It then proposed giving more policy considerations to female hallyu fans, as they have emerged as the main consumers of cosmetics, tourism and other fields, and predicted the figure to top 100 million in 2020.
Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, was a term coined in 1999 by China's Beijing Youth Daily meant to describe the growing popularity of Korean pop culture content. Korea's government has funded numerous hallyu entities to promote Korean culture, food, traditional arts and many others overseas.
The findings were based on a series of polls that were conducted around the world with the assistance of the Korean Foreign Ministry and embassies overseas.
The Korea Foundation is government-affiliated, and closely linked with the Korean Foreign Ministry. Since being founded in 1991, the goal of the Korean Foundation has been promoting Korean culture throughout the globe and building goodwill between Korea and the international community.