Research Project

Engaging in complex interdisciplinary research to map, measure and
forecast the global impacts of Hallyu, the Korean Wave

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