The Financial Times reports that Korea's national brand has been strengthened by the global success of Korean rapper Psy's global hit song "Gangnam Style."
"Psy, a portly 34-year-old rapper with a penchant for silly dances, brought central Seoul to a standstill last week as he gave a free concert for 80,000 adoring fans, including two renditions of his global hit 'Gangnam Style'," the FT reported Tuesday.
"The municipal authorities willingly allowed the concert to take place outside the city hall, and blocked traffic in the surrounding streets: an unusual gesture that reflects the delight of South Korean public officials at the international success of the musician," the daily added.
The daily noted that the song currently stands at No. 2 in both the U.S. and U.K. charts with more than 406 million hits on YouTube, adding that the song's success has boosted awareness of Korea around the world.
The paper also quoted Ma Young-sam from the Foreign Ministry as saying, "As foreigners pay more attention to the singers, slowly they develop a liking for Korea... and if they like Korea, they will buy more Korean things."
The FT also took note of the growing prominence of Korean pop culture abroad. "Psy's hit is just the latest triumph... for what has become known as the Hallyu, or 'Korean wave.' Girls' Generation, a nine-member 'K-pop' group, has made inroads in the U.S. with appearances at Madison Square Garden and on David Letterman's 'Late Show.' Last month, 'Pieta' became the first Korean film to win the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, while Shin Kyung-sook's novel 'Please Look After Mother' became a global bestseller this year."