There are more than 35 million dedicated fans of Korean pop culture, according to a report from the Korea Foundation.
The Korea Foundation's global hallyu (Korean wave) data from 2015 revealed that there are an estimated 35.59 million fans of Korean culture around the world, a 63% increase from 2014's estimated 21.82 million fans. The Korea Foundation expressed that the jump is largely in part due to the rise in accessibility of rising genres of Korean pop culture, including Korean hip-hop and Korean web dramas.
The Korea Foundation based its results on the growth in international fan clubs and events overseas.
The report determined that there were 1,493 international hallyu fan clubs in 86 countries, 21% up from 2014's 1,229.
Last year saw major growth in Korean hip-hop and web dramas, with Korean rap artists holding concerts overseas and Korean web dramas becoming available on numerous international streaming sites. The musical genre and shorter drama episodes reportedly attracted many fans who had previously not been involved as fans of K-pop, Korean dramas, or other aspects of Hallyu.
Last year for the first time ever, a Korean hip-hop agency surpassed top K-pop agencies in local sales.
The Korea Foundation's findings were based on a series of polls that were promulgated through the world with the help of the Korean Foreign Ministry and Korean diplomatic missions and embassies overseas.
The largest number of K-pop fans live in Asia and Oceania, followed by the Americas, then Europe. Africa and the Middle East have the least reported fans.
Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, was a term coined in 1999 by China's Beijing Youth Daily meant to describe the growing popularity of South Korean pop culture content, such as music, dramas, and films. South Korea's government has funded numerous hallyu entities to promote Korean culture, food, traditional arts, etc. overseas.
The Korea Foundation is government-affiliated, and closely linked with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since being founded in 1991, the goal of the Korean Foundation has been promoting Korean culture throughout the globe and building goodwill between Korea and the international community.