Taming AI to explore global phenomena

Machine Learning for Prediction Cultural Analytics

Various factors may contribute to the rise of global movements, like Hallyu or the Korean Wave. These could include support from the Korean government for its creative industries or be associated with the opportunities presented by social media platforms. Yet, global movements’ rapid and wild development will always hold an element of mystery. While we can’t fully explain the “human factor” and the magic behind the birth of a global movement, can we harness data on their spread, impact, and intensity across different regions in recent decades to anticipate their future trajectory? By leveraging machine learning capabilities of the Data to Power mapping application, the project will utilise a wealth of three decades of Hallyu data to formulate a predictive model of the Korean Wave scope and its trajectory across various geo-locations, transforming data analysis into a robust data intelligence system.

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About the project

Since the late 1990s, South Korean creative sector emerged as a speedily developing industry of transnational popular culture production. It first populated the Asian markets such as Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and Singaporean with its media products including music and films. In the past decades, due to a rapid development of new media technologies and social media channels the Korean Wave or Hallyu spread all over the world beyond Asia and the Middle East, and currently has a significant presence in Europe, North and Latin America. Such a global attraction of the Korean Wave culture has incited a significant academic attention that resulted in multiple research projects, questioning: “Why has it taken off so dramatically at this point? Why popular (or not)? Why now? What does it mean socially, culturally, economically, and politically in global contexts?” Drawing on this scholarship, this project aims to advance the studies on the Korean Wave phenomenon even further by interrogating if new data-driven and machine learning approaches combined with traditional qualitative research insights could provide a more comprehensive account of the global impacts of Hallyu. It questions:

If and how could we interpret, understand, measure, and even predict the Korean Wave presence, impacts, and implications in different geolocations around the world, depending on local challenges and opportunities?

The project aims to explore Hallyu as a highly complex global phenomenon that has different layers of manifestations across multiple stages of its existence from production to consumption and reproduction in transnational contexts. It employs data-driven interdisciplinary approaches and innovative methodologies, such as geo-visualisation and machine learning, to explore the Korean Wave by applying more holistic and comprehensive research design in order to capture its global dimension while paying attention to “translocal” and “glocal” contexts and impacts.

Goals and Objectives

The project is the first of its kind to aggregate, put on the timeline and map massive data sets pertaining to various dimensions of Hallyu physical and digital “traces,” including but not limited to media and social viewership and analytics, consumer trends related to Korean cultural exports, tourist arrivals and spending patterns, combined with social demographics from each country, to name but a few. It aims to employ geo-visualization to create a dynamic platform for inductive exploration of the Korean Wave influence and impacts in different parts of the world, exposing important variables that affect the spread, scope, reach and impact, either cultural, economic, social, or even political, of the Korean Wave across time and space. The project intends to design a dynamic mapping system to reveal new patterns of Hallyu expansion in the past decades as well as highlight “grey areas” or “black holes” of knowledge gaps, allowing to pose further research questions to better understand this global phenomenon.

Interdisciplinary Forum

Bringing together academics and scholars from different disciplines (Global Media Communication, International Relations, Cultural Studies, Arts Management) to generate new knowledge on Hallyu

Novel Methodologies

Exploring how data-driven and computational approaches, such as geo-visualization and machine learning, could be employed to better understand the phenomena of global cultural movements and creative industries' exports, impacts and spillovers

Visualizing Dataverse

Experimenting and playing with massive data sets from institutional to Open Access in order to comprehensively analyze the phenomenon of Hallyu

Research Creation

Advancing research on Hallyu through Beta Testing of the mapping application Data To Power that can measure, map, predict and visualize global impacts

Research Methodology

This project draws on the most research developments of developing a Data To Power Prototype, a geo-visualization application or a dynamic mapping software that allows to measure, map and predict soft power impacts on the global scale. The application was created in collaboration with the Digital Diplomacy Research Group from the University of Oxford through multiple online research creation datathons and public forums that brought over 600 participants together in 2022. Read more.

With capabilities to create maps, timelines, and data cuts for a comparative analysis of data across geographies, time periods and subdivisions or programs, Data To Power data visualization system opens new horizons for mapping global impacts of Korean Wave on cultural, political, economic and social levels. Furthermore, employing a prediction model of linear regression, the mapping app draws on the supervised machine learning algorithm to analyze multiple data sets as numeric input values to forecast outputs to enable a predictive analysis. In this way, beyond the traditional qualitative research methodologies, the project will employ multiple quantitative and mixed research methods enabled by the mapping application.

Traditional Methodologies

  • Immersive observations
  • Interviews and focused groups
  • Content analysis
  • Surveys
  • Statistical data analysis
Digital Methodologies

  • Data-visualization
  • Mapping
  • Chronology building
  • Digital storytelling
  • Predictive data analysis

Research Design

The project employs complex research design that draws on interdisciplinary interventions of academics working on Hallyu studies from various perspectives of their respective areas of academic expertise. Each of these scholars will work on their individual Hallyu mapping and research-intensive tasks, pertaining to their own narrow research interests. Together their mapping exercises will create multiple layers of the Korean Wave geo-visualization through Data To Power platform to co-generate knew knowledge on Hally in a highly collaborative, open, and engaging manner converging research insights and views from various disciplines.

Media Communications

  • Hallyu media consumption, circulation, and reproduction
  • Hallyu cultural media flows and contra flows
  • Hallyu digital aesthetics and cultural hybridity
International Relations

  • Contribution of Hallyu to National Branding and Tourism
  • Diplomatic implications of the Korean Wave
  • Hallyu as a non-state soft power resource
Cultural studies and Cultural Management

  • Cultural impact of Hallyu on global/local cultures
  • Cultural policy environment and its influence on Hallyu cultural production
  • Hallyu global fandom and subcultures
Political and Cultural Economy

  • Transnational Hallyu spread, reach, exports and economic impacts
  • Global creative business strategies, networks, markets, and value chains
  • Hallyu economic value



Stage 1: Conceptualization

September 2023 - December 2023

  • Developing conceptual research frameworks for each mapping project
  • Building mini research teams, including key researchers, PhD associates and Research Assistants
  • Identifying and finalising mapping tasks
  • Identifying data sources, exploring access, provenance, and validity of data
  • Conducting tutorials and demos with mini research teams to properly use Data To Power online application functionality
  • Customizing Data To Power interface design and capabilities to meet new demands and expectations of involved researchers to help with their individual mapping tasks
Data aggregation

Stage 2: Data aggregation and mapping

January 2024 - May 2024

  • Collecting data for individual mapping tasks and research projects
  • Automatic aggregation of data from Open Access repositories and social media
  • Conducting tutorials and demos with mini research teams to share Data To Power online application upgrades and new functionality
Predictive analysis

Stage 3: Predictive analysis and data synthesis

June 2024 - October 2024

  • Conducting internal online research sessions for sharing and bringing all mapping layers and results together
  • Comparing/correlating data sets across layers to inform each other research
  • Brainstorming new research trajectories and utilising machine learning for predictive analysis
  • Conducting tutorials and demos with mini research teams to share Data To Power online application upgrades and new functionality
  • Experimenting with upgraded Data To Power machine learning functionality and predictive analysis capabilities
Research Outputs

Stage 4: Research Outputs

November 2024 – December 2024

  • Organising International Symposium in Singapore
  • Sharing the project results, achievements, and deliverables
  • Preparing drafts for academic publications
  • Building an extended international community of Hallyu scholars

Research team

Natalia Grincheva Natalia Grincheva

Lead Project Investigator
Hallyu Data Visualisation

Dr Natalia Grincheva is a Programme Leader in Arts Management at University of the Arts Singapore and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Digital Studio at the University of Melbourne. She is an internationally recognized expert in innovative forms and global trends in contemporary museology, digital diplomacy, and international cultural relations. Her most recent publications are two monographs: Museum Diplomacy in the Digital Age (Routledge: 2020) and Global Trends in Museum Diplomacy (Routledge: 2019). Currently she is working on a new co-authored monograph, Geopolitics of Digital Heritage, forthcoming in 2023 with Cambridge University Press. Dr Grincheva's professional engagements include her dedicated work for the International Fund for Cultural Diversity at UNESCO (2011), International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (2011–2015) as well as service for the international Cultural Research Network (CRN) (2018–2020).

Dal Yong Jin Dal Yong Jin

Senior Project Investigator
Digital Hallyu Mapping

Dal Yong Jin is a Distinguished Simon Fraser University Professor. He completed his Ph.D. in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois in 2005. Jin's major research and teaching interests are digital platforms and digital games, globalization and media, transnational cultural studies, and the political economy of media and culture. Jin has published numerous books, journal articles, and book chapters. His books include Korea's Online Gaming Empire (2010), Digital Platforms, Imperialism and Political Culture (2015), New Korean Wave: transnational cultural power in the age of social media (2016), Smartland Korea: mobile communication, culture and society (2017), and Artificial Intelligence in Cultural Production: Critical Perspectives on Digital Platforms (2021). Jin has also published articles in scholarly journals, such as New Media and Society, The Information Society, Media, Culture and Society, and Information Communication and Society. In May 2022, Jin was inducted as an International Communication Association (ICA) fellow—the highest recognition of distinguished scholarly contributions to the field of communication. He is the founding book series editor of Routledge Research in Digital Media and Culture in Asia. He has been directing The Transnational Culture and Digital Technology Lab since the summer of 2021.

HwaJung Kim HwaJung Kim

Project Investigator
Mapping Anti-Hallyu Movements

Dr HwaJung Kim serves as Research Professor, having been selected in track-A by the National Research Foundation of the Ministry of Education, Republic of Korea, in mid-2021, at the Institute for International Area Studies, Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha Womans University, where she had joined as Invited Professor (2020–2021) after completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Seoul National University awarded by the National Research Foundation (2017–2019). Her research interests focus on culture in world politics, international cultural relations, and diplomacy. She has published academic articles on the topics in The Journal of Cultural Policy (in Korean, 2021), Korea Observer (2020), Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia (2018, 2022), and Korean Journal of International Studies (2017) and also has contributed book chapters, such as Hallyu, Daum[Next Step] (in Korean, 2022), Exploring Cities and Countries of the World (Volume 4, 2023), The Palgrave Handbook of Diplomatic Reform and Innovation (2023), and The Routledge Handbook of Soft Power (2nd edition, 2023).

Youngaah Koh Youngaah Koh

Project Investigator
Mapping Cultural Policy Impacts

Dr Youngaah Koh is an Assistant Professor of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship at Miami University. She currently teaches undergraduate courses, Cultural Equity in the Arts; Policy & Advocacy in the Arts; and Introduction to Arts Management. Her research encompasses arts policy and advocacy; undergraduate arts management education; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the arts; and community-based arts. Youngaah earned her doctorate in Arts Administration, Education, and Policy from the Ohio State University and her master's degree in Arts Administration from Columbia University during which she was a Fulbright Fellow. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ewha Womans University in South Korea. Prior to her career in higher education, Youngaah worked with the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization), where she engaged in the design and implementation of international cultural policy. She coordinated multiple international cooperation projects with countries in the Asia-Pacific region to help safeguard, revitalize their traditional arts and culture. Youngaah began her professional career as an arts journalist for The Korea Herald, a national English-language newspaper in Korea.

PhD Research Associates

So Yoon Lee So Yoon Lee

Research Associate
Mapping K-Pop Entertainment Infrastructures

So Yoon Lee is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Chicago with a broad interest in the sociocultural and political implications of the developmental state in Asia. Having received her B.A. in Political Science and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies from Duke University and her M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago, So Yoon’s empirical research covers a wide spectrum, ranging from the rise of populist leaders in Asia to the rise of South Korean popular culture. Her previous work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, and she is currently working on several research projects that qualitatively examine the production and consumption of K-pop in South Korea and the United States.

Yan (Anna) Liu Yan (Anna) Liu

Research Associate
Mapping Digital Audiences

Yan (Anna) Liu is a PhD student at Institute of Communication Research (ICR), College of Media, UIUC. Her research lies at the intersection of audience studies, critical data studies, cultural production, global flow of cultural products, and digital platforms. Specifically, Anna is interested in the social impact of quantification and datafication, focusing on how audience measurements shape audiences’ reactivity behaviors and cultural producers’ sense-making of the market and decision making. She examines the role of audience measurement in the context of global flow of East Asian music, with K-pop as a prominent case. Focusing on the role of digital platforms and Western audience measurement regimes (e.g., Billboard), Anna’s on-going research explores how platform metrics and datafication of fans shape K-pop fans’ data-driven behaviors, which contribute to the K-pop idols’ visibility among global audience bases. Anna adopts mixed methods in her research, including computational and qualitative methods.

Research Assistants

Jubin (Irene) Lee Jubin (Irene) Lee

Research Assistant
Mapping Cultural Policy

Jubin (Irene) Lee is a Ph.D student in Arts and Cultural Management at HongIk University, Seoul, and a project manager at a governmental institute by ministry of cultural affairs in Korea. Her studying field ranges from development of Hallyu and international cultural exchanges to analysis on related cultural policy, and government’s role within the field. Having received her M.A. in Arts MBA at the same University and advanced interpretation studies between Korean and English at ChungAng University, Seoul, her studies cover a wide range of fields in terms of mutual cultural exchanges on the international level. Studying currently on experiences of participant artists of cultural policy project using K-Pop, her major interest can be narrowed into analysis on the government policy related with Hallyu and its limits or implications.

Hyejin Jo Hyejin Jo

Research Assistant
Mapping Cultural Relations

Hyejin Jo is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, Canada. Her research draws on critical media studies, cultural studies, and feminist political economy of communication and queries the intersection of South Korean popular culture, digital platforms, and gender. She is interested in the relationship between audience labour and feelings as commodities in the K-pop scene. She is working on her doctoral dissertation investigating how K-pop idols' and fans' affective labour and feelings are platformized through K-pop fan platforms. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals like International Journal of Communication and Pacific Affairs.

Jeongwon Shin Jeongwon Shin

Research Assistant
Mapping Hallyu Digital Consumption

Jeongwon Shin is a research assistant at the Center for Hallyu Studies at the Asia Center of Seoul National University. Her research interests include K-pop, P-pop, Korean Wave (Hallyu), globalization, and Asian popular culture. She is particularly interested in the tensions between nationalism and globalization within the transnational fandoms and cultural industries. Having received her B.A. in Sociology and her M.A. in Communication from Seoul National University, her areas of study span from global media and postcolonialism to fan studies and media industries. Her master's thesis focused on the localization and indigenization of K-pop, with a case study on the Filipino boy group SB19. She is working on several research projects concerning the intersections of K-pop and Southeast Asian popular music.

Project Advisors

Seok-Kyeong Hong Seok-Kyeong Hong

Project Advisor
Global Media and Culture

Seok-Kyeong Hong is a Professor of Communication at Seoul National University, since 2013. She has worked at Korean Broadcasting Commission as Chief researcher (1996-1999) and was an Associate Professor of the Department of Information and Communication Sciences at University of Bordeaux 3 (2000-2013). Her major research and teaching interests include Cultural Studies, Visual Methods and Communication, Media Culture, and Transnational and Global Popular Culture. She has published books and articles on Korean television dramas, Hallyu as a cultural consequence of globalization and digital culture, and various digital cultural forms and practices as mukbang (foodbroadcasting). She’s also interested in visual methods and qualitative research design. She has been writing columns on Hallyu and cultural issues for national presses. Her recent research was on the phenomenon of BTS, and a book on the subject is under publication.

Taehwan Kim Taehwan Kim

Project Advisor
Foreign Policy and Soft Power

Dr Taehwan Kim is Professor of Public Diplomacy at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA), the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Before joining the KNDA in 2013, he had served as Director of Public Diplomacy at the Korea Foundation since 2008. He also taught as Research Professor at the Division of International Education of Yonsei University during 2002 and 2008. He is a book review editor for the English quarterly Global Asia published by the East Asia Foundation. Dr Kim graduated from Yonsei University (B.A. and M.A. in Political Science) and received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University. His research focus is on Korea's public diplomacy and comparative political economy of post-socialist transformation. His recent works in English include Seeking Recognition in Anarchy: An Identity Approach to Public Diplomacy, A Status Identity Approach to Middle Power Public Diplomacy, China's Sharp Power and South Korea's Peace Initiative and Authoritarian Post-Communist Transition and Its Future in China, Vietnam, and North Korea.

WoongJo Chang WoongJo Chang

Project Advisor
Cultural Policy and Management

Dr WoongJo Chang is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Arts and Cultural Management at Hongik University, Seoul, Korea. Before joining Hongik, he taught in the Arts Leadership Program at Seattle University and earned a Ph.D. in Cultural Policy and Arts Administration from the Ohio State University after studying performing arts at Seoul National University. Chang's research focuses on entrepreneurial practices of small arts organizations and ways to support them. Chang currently serves as Chair of the scientific committee of the Korean Society of Arts and Cultural Management, further solidifying his leadership in the field. He has also contributed to The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society, where he's a consulting editor. Chang has a special focus on Hallyu, particularly the global cultivation of its fandom. His current interest in Hallyu emphasizes its transgenerality and transnationality, reflecting Korea's compressed modernity.