Korea has started to emerge as a cultural powerhouse in asia, in a trend called Hanlyu (Korean Wave) which threatens to overshadow even Hollywood and American pop culture. Korean movies, music, and games are increasingly taking the top spots in popularity charts in china, japan, and south eastern asia countries and it's TV programs are starting to sweep TV primetime slots in those countries. For example, Jewel in the Palace (google), a Korean drama about an apprentice in the royal kitchen who became the nation's first female royal physician, was watched by more than 40% of the TV audiences in Hong Kong last month.
As a Korean-American, all this is amazing because I still find most Korean movies and dramas not very interesting. My guess is that Korean cultural goods are popular because they:
- are more familiar to eastern countries than western culture.
- are not burdened by animosity against Japan
- are of relatively high quality
- offer more bang for the buck
While greedy copycat producers are still busy churning out trash in Korea, overall quality seems to be improving at a fast pace still so I think the trend will continue for a while.