At the beginning of the new millennium, the news about a new trend called hanryu (the Korean wave) caught many South Koreans by surprise. The term refers to the growing popularity of South Korean popular culture, especially music, TV dramas, movies, and fashion styles, in East/Southeast Asia, including China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. It began in the late 1990s and, by the early twenty-first century, it had become a widely visible phenomenon in the region. Shaken national pride and confidence caused by the economic crisis in the late 1990s were alleviated by the surprising yet delightful story, and many heated discussions about the meaning and significance of popular culture as well as the phenomenon itself were inculcated. Since then, munwha (culture), represented by popular culture, has become a key word in South Korean social discourse.1