Hallyu & Anime: A More Than Welcome Ongoing Love Story

Death Note

The Korean Wave And Anime: A More Than Welcome Ongoing Love Story

Hallyu (한류), coined as The Korean Wave, encompasses the vibrant and captivating aspects of South Korean popular culture that have gained notable popularity since the 90s, with Korea’s musical genre, K-pop, and its captivating K-dramas taking center stage. This cultural phenomenon first rose to prominence in China before gradually spreading worldwide, earning global acclaim and appreciation.

When K-Pop and Anime Meet: A Not-So-Recent Love Story

While its notoriety has increased recently, notably with K-pop group TREASURE’s 2021 digital single “Beautiful” featured in the opening of the anime series Black Cover, the cultural exchange between Hallyu (Korean Wave) music and anime is not a novel phenomenon. Both anime and K-pop are influential entertainment exports from Japan and Korea, respectively, with many artists invited to create and perform music for anime series and beloved films. The global reach of these cultural exports only continues to expand, with the potential for even more exciting collaborations in the future.


TREASURE’s track “Beautiful” has enchanted anime fans worldwide, igniting newfound appreciation for K-pop among listeners who were previously unfamiliar with the genre. As a rookie 5-month-old group, the selection of TREASURE to create and perform this striking song for the esteemed anime series Black Clover is a testament to their exceptional talent. The lyrics, crafted by Japanese member Yoshi (Yoshinori Kanemoto), capture the essence of the series perfectly. In another exciting collaboration, TXT contributes the hit song “Everlasting Shine” to the beloved anime as well.

Black Clover

2PM’s “Take Off” serves as both Blue Exorcist‘s debut ending song and the Korean group’s first Japanese single from 2011. The soundtrack for Black Clover features TXT’s “Everlasting Shine,” which serves as the anime’s 12th opening. Throughout the years, One Piece has incorporated several K-pop songs in its OST, such as TVXQ’s “Share the World” (11th opening) and a remix of the anime’s first opening theme, “We Are!” Other notable tracks include “Share the World” (2009) and “Asu wa Kuru Kara” (17th ending, 2006). SS501’s “Kokoro,” their first Japanese single, was used as Blue Dragon‘s second ending song in 2010.

BoA’s presence in anime soundtracks proves that K-pop has always been a part of this genre. Her name is well-established in the anime world, with her song “Every Heart: Minna No Kimochi” serving as the fourth ending theme for Inuyasha in 2002. Moreover, BoA’s song “Masayume Chasing” was chosen to be the 15th opening theme for Fairy Tail in 2014.

Stray Kids had a major accomplishment in 2020 with their contribution to the highly-acclaimed anime, Tower of God. The K-pop group was entrusted with both the opening and ending themes for the first season – showcasing their remarkable talent with Top and Slump, respectively. Not only did they deliver exceptional music, but they were also selected for their involvement in a Crunchyroll original. This Japanese animation is based on the Korean webtoon of the same name, which has rapidly gained immense popularity in Japan. The opening and ending themes recorded by Stray Kids were impeccably done in Japanese, Korean, and English to suit the respective dubbing process. With the impending release of the second season, fans are eagerly waiting to hear what Stray Kids has in store for them.


In 2021, “Forget Me Not”, from ENHYPEN’s debut album in Japanese, was chosen as the opening theme for RE-MAIN. This amalgamation of two popular cultures is just one example of the Hallyu “invasion” that has taken the anime world by storm. These new collaborations have not only expanded borders but have also broken down barriers between genres and people. No longer are these cultural elements confined to narrow niches; instead, they are embraced globally for their unique and diverse qualities. As our world becomes more globalized, it is heartening to see such diverse inclusion that can be found in anime, not just in Japan, but all over the world.

Anime, Manga, and K-Pop: A Strong Relationship

Anime and manga have captured the hearts of many K-Pop artists, including SHINee’s Lee Taemin who adores One Piece and has even used the beloved Japanese animation to learn Japanese. Similarly, Jimin of BTS is also a fan of this popular anime.


However, the connection between K-Pop and the anime/manga world extends beyond just mere fandom. Many K-Pop artists are seen by fans as walking off the pages of manga or out of anime screens. For instance, NCT 127’s leader, Lee Taeyong, has earned the nickname “2D Taeyong” due to his striking anime-like appearance. Additionally, K-Pop artists often cosplay their favorite anime characters, with Taeyong, for example, often experimenting with different hairstyles and colors that have led fans to compare him to various anime characters.


Kim Jonghyun and Taemin once donned epic cosplay outfits for SM’s Halloween party, with the former channeling Naruto and the latter embodying Howl from Studio Ghibli’s beloved Howl’s Moving Castle. Surprisingly, even BTS’s own Min Yoongi, known as Suga, showed off his love for the Naruto franchise by cosplaying as the spiky-haired ninja. In case you’re wondering, Howl’s Moving Castle originated from Diana Wynn Jones’ fantastic British novel trilogy and was expertly adapted into Japanese animation by the legendary Studio Ghibli. Speaking of manga, fans of the shoujo classic Ao Haru Ride may have noticed a familiar face in the love interest — rumored to be based on none other than Taemin himself! Io Sakisaka, the creator of the manga, is indeed a devoted Taemin follower, even drawing fan art of the beloved idol.

The Korean Wave Impact On Both Japanese and US Animation

It is important to recognize that the Korean Wave has successfully integrated itself into the gaming industry, with numerous collaborations being warmly received. Even Disney paid tribute to K-pop artists in The Owl House, featuring prominent K-Pop artist Jungkook who, notably, has even made indirect appearances in popular K-Dramas and American shows such as Hospital Playlist, Crash Landing on You, and The Simpsons – a testament to the growing influence of K-pop and Korean media on a global scale.


The cancellation of The Owl House — a critically acclaimed animated fantasy that resonated with fans for its diverse and inclusive characters, intergenerational storylines, and acceptance among older audiences — highlights an unfortunate reality in the American animation industry. Despite the show’s success, Disney cited a mismatched demographic to justify its cancellation, revealing a need for the industry to expand its creative boundaries and cater to a wider range of audiences craving rich and relatable stories.

Overall, Zen – Grogu and Dust Bunnies is a welcome gift to fans and marks a significant step towards the integration of East Asian culture into Western animation. It is heartening to see that the scars of the past are being recognized and that the world is moving towards greater acceptance and appreciation for cultural diversity.

The Global Impact of Hallyu: a Unifying Force for Fans Across the World

Pop culture has become a universal language connecting people worldwide through their shared love of K-Pop and other elements of the Hallyu. As a result, cultural diversity has shone brightly across K-Pop fandoms. The future promises exciting collaborations expanding beyond Japanese anime to Western productions, bringing even more joy and delight to fans. This integration of diverse cultures creates a bridge that previously divided niches, resulting in a more integrated production of captivating works of art. These works incorporate elements of the Hallyu, Japanese and Western cultures, ultimately merging them majestically and creating timeless beauty to be remembered.

Hallyu is not just breaking down barriers, it is igniting a global phenomenon that is transcending cultures and unifying fans across the world, like never before. From music to fashion, to television dramas and movies, the Korean wave is sweeping the globe with relentless dedication, changing the game and captivating hearts along the way. The power of Hallyu is undeniable, and it is just getting started, promising to create an interconnected world where borders and boundaries are a thing of the past, and unity reigns supreme.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Beatrix Kondo is a freelance writer based in Canoas, RS, Brazil. She is also a translator working on her specialization course in writing.
Edited by Sunni Rashad.

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  1. Sunni Rashad

    Great job on this happy it turned out so well. I taught a course on Hallyu a few years ago. I wonder how other countries will incorporate their own cultures into soft power like Hallyu.

  2. Manhwa needs a dragon ball, a manhwa that changes the industry and gives influence to future manhwa.

  3. I actually stumbled across kdramas in 2015 because I was mindlessly scrolling for something to watch. The first drama I watched was School 2015 with Kim Soo Hyun. Then, I moved onto kpop and became a BTS Army.

  4. As an African-American I was a bit conflicted when I could identify my culture’s 80s & 90s music as their soundtrack underlays. But the young African-American woman who was recruited into the Kpop girls group showed the contradiction in a nutshell. The Kpop industry is riding on the backs of African-American Hip-Hop, dance & rhythms; but doesn’t know how to truly incorporate non-Asisan/non-White into the Kpop culture. But with that being said I’m glad to see the development of Kpop. And as for Kdramas, I fell down that rabbit hole hard! I absolutely love Kdramas! I haven’t seen any anime with korean influences yet though.

    • Nikolai

      It is all fun to me to listen to KPop songs….till I realized my friends even cut their own eating/clothing budgets just to buy their idols’ limited edition albums…But it is fine to listen to their music while I workout/go running so I know their music truly does something good to my life in long-terms.

  5. Natalee

    Cool = Korean Wave, cute and weird = anime.

  6. Korean Wave has its ups and downs. Yes in one way, I’m proud of my homeland’s success but on the other hand, I sometimes feel annoyed because I always face typical stereotypes…I get compared to Korean celebrities or asked if I do makeup or skincare or hair perm JUST because I’m Korean. I’m just an ordinary Korean guy, not an idol, not an actor…just living my life. Don’t fully trust what the media portrays Korea and Koreans as…what you see on dramas and variety shows are true yet doesn’t portray the 100% reality of Korea.

    • Hancock

      Same in America. I’ve met someone from Australia and thinks American high school were like from the movies.

    • Beatrix Kondo

      Every country faces stereotypes. Women in my country are seen as easy, all of us allegedly love soccer, and samba. Oh, some even think we don’t have Wi-Fi and live in trees with monkeys. Nobody should fully believe in what the media portrays because impartiality and objectivity are impossible in journalism. And, well, dramas are FICTION!!!!! Do I need to say more? Really?

  7. Since COVID started I began watching more and more online content and I’ve been exposed to S Korea through K Dramas; as a result I have sought to learn more about Korean culture, language and history. I hope that doesn’t make me a “Koreaboo” but I do get excited to learn more about this fascinating country. My second love is anime.

    • Mikaela

      As for me i started watching korean dramas way before kpop. Not only korean dramas i also used to watch japanese and chinese dramas too. But korean style of film making was on another level. Hollywood is good (not recently tho) but it was refreshing to see cast full of east asians like myself. Also some culture was similar. Japan has really really good plot and new ideas, just look at their mangas and animes. But they can’t make a good movie out of it. Kpop felt weird at first but now i am a fan. Not into kpop music tho. There are very few good music actually i just enjoy overall concept. Fashion , dancing and entertaining side of kpop was more fresh and interesting. Was really bored to watch very similar looking US rappers singing about boobs and strip clubs again and again. Yeah kpop idols all look the same but western entertainment industry is also full of similar looking people.

  8. It’s amazing how South Korea used to be one of the poorest countries to becoming one of the most influential countries in terms of music, movies, drama and technology.

  9. I’m a comic geek, and truth to be told, manhwas are so appealing. Their complexity and art style in general, can get you hooked and engaged in the story in short amount of time. Kudos to whoever get involved in the making, you are one of the reason I’m still living now, breathing and waiting for another chapter.

    • Can i get recommendation best manhwas you have read so far? I read Tower of God but get boring, Solo Leveling is very good but i finish the novel earlier, The Beginning After the End kinda slow, Second Coming Gluttony manhwa art isn’t good enough, Overgeared is on going.

      • Lookism, Random Chatting, Gosu, Bastard, Sweet Home, Shotgun Boy, Girls of the Wild.

    • I agree and the story usually ends way better than most mangas nowadays.

    • I love Manhwa 🥰

    • I’m also obsessed with manhwas. The stories are so nice to read. I like manhuas and mangas to but manhwas are my favorite.

    • Penelope Lee

      Yeah manhwas are one of the best things that I have come across in recent years.

  10. I’m Korean and Japanese! Glad to see many people love my countries.

    • Janiyah

      I enjoy so many things from each side like food, shows, music, environment that I love them both evenly.

  11. If it’s about anime, manga, style etc then it’s Japan. If it is about music, beauty, fashion then it’s South Korea. Basically both for me!

  12. Japanese entertainment industry failing because the government is too meddling. Here comes Hallyu.

  13. The Korean Wave started with a TV Series called Winter Sonata in 2002. Trust me I was riding that wave and I live in Australia, imagine how big that wave was in Asia at the time. Korea’s soft power is unbeatable for almost 2 decades.

    • K wave is the result of hard and smart work by Koreans who realize that competing with China and Japan to survive while having no natural resources is insanely difficult and inefficient. It is much easier to export Korean cultures than cars and TVs!

  14. As a Korean I feel like if Japan and South Korea had a better relationship, a lot of amazing and new stuff would come into this world through the power and influence of both countries!

    • Beatrix Kondo

      Could not agree more, but, unfortunately, Japan “colonized” South Korea for 35 years. Enslaved people and used women as what they disgusting “name”: comfort women!
      ]apan refuses to even apologize for what they did, and they even said they were NECESSARY for the morale of the soldiers. Recently.
      Yes, @ellih insulted me in several ways, but you are a decent person and I felt the urge to reply to you. I am polite, I just not take offenses, and then I choose whom I will be polite with.

  15. Kristoph

    Everyone is saying that Korean pop culture is the greatest power Korea has right now. But I think the most influential, powerful thing that has ever come out of Korea is Samsung. They literally create everything, and the best phones in the market. Samsung is everywhere that people forget that it’s a Korean brand.

  16. I got into Korean culture in 2006 when I was 11. We lived in the Philippines, I attended an international school. Most of my classmates were Koreans and learned about the culture through them. I began to appreciate the culture more when I was old enough to travel to Korea and live there for a short time. Although, I’m not a kpop fan, I do love K-dramas, the food and how well they take care of themselves. I appreciate their effort to to spread Korean culture. I wish more countries would do that because there is so much to learn from others. Even if we just know a little bit, I think it breaks barriers and misconceptions. But one thing for sure, mental illness is a taboo subject in many countries not just Korea.

    Although, my Korean American friends did feel weird seeing foreigners flock to Korea when hallyu just exploded. Some just have this unrealistic fantasies about a certain culture only be be shocked when they actually decide to visit the country.

  17. I’ve recently got into K-dramas lately, after watching parasite…and it’s so good! Now I want korean anime!

  18. Richard

    Interesting new pop culture characters, including K-Pop and Hallyu; there seems to be more worldwide pop culture phenomenon than ever—an exciting contrast to North American graphic novels and animation. The entertainment business has grown increasingly, creating a global culture of fans and introducing Western audiences to Korean culture.

  19. Fell into Kdrama recently, just gotta say, when was the last time you saw anything in the US with bookstores or libraries or architecture or public spaces or any other part of the ‘culture’ that is evident in almost e v e r y single kdrama? Where the main character is an artist, a writer, a historian, a translator?

    I often see more of myself in these K dramas than in lacking US productions.

    • I find Kdrama and Cdrama better written then american ones. They tell a full story in a set of episode, instead of lets make a mini sotry per episode with little to no connection per episode…..

  20. My wife is Korean and we have enjoyed Korean popular music since the 1990’s. I was curious when I saw how much the government was investing in soft power and in the creation of manufactured Korean pop music. Still, at the beginning there were some interesting things coming out of the creative community. And even a few musicians who began contributing in meaningful ways. But now that it’s been “mainstreamed,” all I am hearing is overproduced music, desperate collaborations and fetishized videos. It makes me feel sad for a Korea that never had to prove anything, was always cool and used to be interesting. Not so much now.

  21. Hallyu is the new trend!

  22. Korea seems to be the trendsetter nowadays. The new Japan.

  23. Kathleen

    people plan trips to japan because of the culture even if they don’t watch anime. People go to Korea to see kpop idols

  24. This article prove the power of Hallyu. Thank you The Artifice and the author.

  25. I find it very odd when people romanticize another culture based on what they see on anime or the music they listen to. Like it’s great that you love and bring curious about is a natural progression but for people to get so in their heads about is just not healthy. Underneath it all, the country of someone you idolize is just like any other country. With great things and bad things that affect its people. So if you do decide not move to another country, don’t let it because you have a mystical view of what your life will be like.

    • Beatrix Kondo

      Have you really read the article?

      I will leave blank spaces for you to reply (Yes, if you feel offended, get to know that is precisely my intention because you offended, insulted me, and other synonyms of the words.)

      [ ]

      [ ]

      Other: Try to explain


      Even if you did not write this “allegedly”, you are generalizing and being very rude to others, including Japanese and Korean Culture.

      I hate to brag, but you begged me to.

      Let’s go with topics to try and make it easier for you to read and maybe understand.

      1. I have a certificate from the University of Tokyo. Literature. With a sponsorship.

      2. Prove in my article that I “idolized” their culture. A tip: there are criticism in the article, which is far from biased.

      3. You wrote: Like it’s great that you love and bring curious about is a natural progression but for people to get so in their heads about is just not healthy.”

      a) I barely could understand what you wrote because of the mistakes.
      b) The parts are lightly understandable: My 2 cents: If people get so crazy and obsessed about another country or band, their problem, not mine.

      4. The text is journalistic, of course, my love for their culture (which is not limited to anime and Hallyu) will be there, for, when I studied Journalism, First Class: The Teacher: There is no objective in writing. Will not explain that to you because I don’t teach for free.

      5. MUAHAHSAHHAHAH Again, where the hell did I mention I would move to Japan/Korea?

      6. Do you actually know how long I have been studying AND working with entertainment and mostly anime/Hallyu? [Rhetoric question for you cannot even and interpret a text correctly, how could you read my brain??? uhasuhsuahuashuahu

      7. Again, to me you are trying to teach/give a (bad) lesson or whatever?

      8. Will not write all of my certificates and or ongoing studies, but they include Gender, Family, and Social Change, at Yonsei University.

      I could have more to say to you, but I will now reply who decent people they deserve my good words/side.


  26. Korean Wave is like a sprouting grass spreading around the world.

  27. As a K-pop fan since Seo Taiji & Boys (I am 30) I remember being made fun of for not only loving K-pop but J-pop as well as Japanese metal.

  28. Do you prefer manga or manhwa?

  29. We need a coverage of korean manhwa artist.

  30. Manga prioritizes storytelling and work efficiency over color. Color is added when manga is animated. The relationship between manga and anime is very great. And the character designs are excellent and unique, making them well-suited for merchandising.

    On the other hand, manhwa’s content is shallow and repetitive, resulting in quick forgetfulness. It is like junk food. The character designs are all similar and not catchy. Consequently, creating a masterpiece that remains beloved for many years would be very difficult for manhwa.

    • But sadly that is the world trend. Something short, shallow, less or no development.

  31. webtoon is future, manga is past.

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