For South Koreans, K-Pop World Festival, the first of its kind, was confirmation of how widely their country’s latest export has spread, first to Asia and more recently to Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, mainly because of the broad use of social media.
K-pop is part of a broader trend known as the Korean Wave and called “hallyu” in Korean. The Taiwanese were among the first to notice the invasion of Korean soap operas in their television programming in the late 1990s and gave the phenomenon its name. Until then, the term had referred to the cold winds blowing down from the Korean Peninsula.
The Korean Wave has long conquered Asia, but before the proliferation of global social networks, attempts by K-pop stars to break into Western markets, including the United States, had largely failed.
But now YouTube, Facebook and Twitter make it easier for K-pop bands to reach a wider audience in the West, and those fans are turning to the same social networking tools to proclaim their devotion.
When bands like 2NE1, Super Junior and SHINee hold concerts in Europe and the United States, tickets sell out within minutes, and fans have used Facebook and Twitter to organize flash mobs demanding more shows, as they did in Paris in May.
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