Since the partition of Korea into North and South Korea in 1948, following years of Japanese occupation, South Korea has developed into one of the world's most affluent economies. In recent years, it has been highly influenced by foreign countries, primarily America.
Traditional Korean literature reflects the strong influence that the Chinese language has had in Korean history. More recently, however, the trend has been reversed as South Korea has become a cultural powerhouse in the region. South Korean pop music, known as K-pop, TV dramas, and films have gained huge success across South and East Asia. Filmmakers such as Kim Ki-Duk and Joon-Ho Bong have screened their films all over the world. Oldboy by Park Chan-Wook won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
Modern Korean literature, however, has yet to gain the same level of recognition abroad. Much of contemporary literature reflects South Korea's 20th century history of occupation and division. Hwang Sok-Yong's The Guest explores the traumatic scars from the Korean War that continue to haunt a family. Korean American Chang-Rae Lee's Native Speaker reveals the difficulties and alienation felt by emigrants uprooted from their land. Lee's latest novel, The Surrendered, continues with this theme and was nominated for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Shin Kyung-Sook's Please Look After Mother, a recent best-seller in Korea,has recently garnered attention for drawing attention to the great changes that parallel South Korea's rapid modernisation.