One of the big stories of 2012 was the phenomenal success of Korean pop star PSY with his kooky track Gangnam Style.
Korean pop music (or K-Pop as it's generally referred to) is big business and a huge influence on styles and trends across Asia.
What will be interesting to watch is whether the Korean ascendency continues in 2013 and we see more cross-over Korean success stories, not only from K-pop sensations (keep an eye on Boa and Girls' Generation) but also from Korea's massive fashion industry.
For many years, Korea has been developing its reputation as an exporter of high quality textiles and fabrics, but it appears that it is now on the cusp of evolving from being merely a fabric exporter to setting the direction of what the world's designers are sending down the runway.
A key driver in the emergence and confidence of the Korean fashion industry is heavy investment from the central government, keen to actively promote Korean's 'cultural industries'.
Part of this investment involves showcasing the talents of Korea's fashion designers to the fashion press of the world. As well as hosting Seoul Fashion Week twice a year, international events are also supported - for example, in October 2012, the government's Korea Fashion organization collaborated with celebrity stylist Patricia Field (of Sex And The City fame) to present a 'K-Fashion Sensation' in Manhattan, showcasing a number of Korean fashion brands.
Another interesting facet of Korean fashion is the willingness of Korean guys to be totally fashion-forward. For the visitor it can sometimes get a bit confusing - guys that might be registering on your 'gaydar' because of how they're dressed or how they look, are probably just metrosexual guys who are into their fashion.
Korean designers to watch out for:
- Ko Tae Yong
- Doii Lee
- Yang Hee Deuk
- Kwak Hyun Ju
- Lie Sang Bong
- Park Seung-gun
Exciting times ahead for fashion in Korea.