In only a few decades, this capital has transformed itself from an impoverished city decimated by the Korean War to one of the most prosperous and high-tech places in the world. In the past decade there’s also been an explosion of international interest in Korean popular culture, especially catchy K-pop music, soapy TV dramas and edgy cinema, making the most famous Korean singers, stars and directors household names everywhere from Tokyo to Beijing. Koreans even have a name for this blossoming of foreign interest in their homegrown pop culture: hallyu, which means Korean wave. Korea has long been dwarfed by China and Japan, far more populous nations that have colonized the Korean Peninsula, and so this recent cultural hegemony has given Seoul residents a newfound confidence, even exuberance, in their city. - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.