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Lesson 8*: Korean Popular Culture in the United States


They call it Hallyu, the Korean wave.  Driven by the spread of K-dramas and K-pop across East, Southeast and South Asia during its initial stages, the Korean Wave has evolved from a regional development into a global phenomenon, carried by the Internet and social media and the proliferation of K-pop music videos on YouTube. Hallyu is seen in everything from Korean dramas on Netflix to Korean skincare regimens dominating the cosmetics industry to Korean tacos and kimchi on your favorite local menu.

Psy performs "Gangnam Style" in Sydney in 2013. (Source: Wikipedia)

*This lesson was adapted from the lesson Korean Popular Culture in the United States, by Dr. Fay Shin, Chair and Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at California State University, Long Beach.  Supplemental activities were developed by Ms. Helen Kang, Teacher at North Hollywood High School, Los Angeles Unified School District.  

Lesson Standards

  • History/Social Science Analysis Skills

  • History/Social Science Content Standards

  • ​Common Core Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects


Lesson Features

  • TOPICS:  Korean popular culture, K-pop, Parasite, Minari

  • HISTORICAL TIMEFRAME: 1990 - Present

  • SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: Biographical Research Presentation, Memoir Essay


Lesson Overview

  • Students explore Korean popular culture in the United States, including K-Pop, Korean and Korean American films, food, and more. They compare and contract K-POP and American Popular music, conduct short research on an example of Hallyu, analyze films, conduct research for a biographical presentation of a notable Korean American, compose a memoir essay of their own experiences, and complete a final project.


Lesson Activities and Assessments



  • Each activity requires 55 minutes plus additional time for viewing movies.

  • The Summative Assessment will require one class period to introduce the assessment, and additional time to check on progress and share final products.


Objectives and Learning Goals

  • ​Students will be able to identify causes and effects of how K-Pop has become a global phenomenon and expectations for future growth.

  • Students will be able to identify examples and impacts of Korean popular culture on the United States.

  • Students will be able to analyze movies by Korean and Korean Americans for their relevance to US society and culture.

  • Students will be able to identify impacts of Koreans and Korean Americans on the US economy after 1992.

Additional Resources


  • Autobiography - an account of a person's life written by that person.

  • Bibimbap - a Korean dish consisting of rice topped with sautéed vegetables, chili paste, and beef or other meat, sometimes with the addition of a raw or fried egg.

  • Biography - an account of someone's life written by someone else.

  • Genre - a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.

  • Hallyu/The Korean Wave - a Chinese term which, when translated, literally means “Korean Wave”. It is a collective term used to refer to the phenomenal growth of Korean culture.

  • K-pop - Korean popular music, a popular genre of music originating from South Korea. K-pop songs contain many musical influences, such as hip-hop, electronic dance, jazz, and rock, performed by groups featuring anywhere from four to 21 members.​

  • Maeuntang - spicy fish stew is a hot spicy Korean cuisine fish soup boiled with gochujang and various vegetables

  • Memoir - a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources.

  • Minari - plant native to East Asia and found in a lot of South Korean cooking.

  • Popular culture - culture based on the tastes of ordinary people rather than an educated elite.

  • Popular music - music appealing to the popular taste, including rock and pop and also soul, country, reggae, rap, and dance music.


Lesson 8 Presentation (PDF)

Lesson 8 Teacher's Guide (PDF)

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