Korea's cool wave—Soul from Seoul
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Korea's cool wave—Soul from Seoul

Soul from Seoul wows the rest of Asia

Korean wave: boy band Shinhwa

Korea might not be the first country that springs to mind when considering coolness, but if independent broker CLSA is right, that is rapidly changing. In a new report, "Korea wave: fad to phenomenon", CLSA argues that the expansion of Korean cultural exports throughout Asia over the past five years is approaching mass acceptance, making Korea Asia's coolest country. From TV dramas and hip-hop boy bands to cutting-edge movies and online games, Korean cultural exports are having a significant indirect benefit on the economy, prompting higher tourist arrivals and a cool platform from which Korean consumer product companies can launch new state-of-the-art gizmos.

Perhaps most important, CLSA believes that the new Korean wave of coolness might help pull the country's consumers out of the downward spiral in confidence that has continued to plague the economy, perhaps even leading to a reassessment of the Korean market by investors.

"The rising success of Korean cultural exports will bolster direct investment and capital expenditure," says James Paterson, head of Korea research for CLSA. "The accelerated development of a domestic equity culture will drive a continued market re-rating."

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