Cultural technology (Hangul: ?; Hanja: ; RR: munhwagisul) is a system used by South Korean talent agencies to promote Korean pop culture throughout the world as part of the Korean Wave. The system was developed by Lee Soo-man, founder of S.M. Entertainment, one of the largest talent agencies in South Korea.
During a speech at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2011, Lee said he coined the term "cultural technology" about fourteen years prior, when S.M. Entertainment decided to promote its K-pop artists to all of Asia. In the late 1990s, Lee and his colleagues created a manual on cultural technology, which specified the steps needed to popularize K-pop artists outside South Korea.
"The manual, which all S.M. employees are instructed to learn, explains when to bring in foreign composers, producers, and choreographers; what chord progressions to use in what country; the precise color of eyeshadow a performer should wear in a particular country; the exact hand gestures he or she should make; and the camera angles to be used in the videos (a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree group shot to open the video, followed by a montage of individual closeups)," according to The New Yorker.
According to Lee, there are three stages necessary to popularize Korean culture outside South Korea: exporting the product, collaborating with international companies to expand the product's presence abroad, and finally creating a joint venture with international companies. As part of their joint ventures with international companies, South Korean talent agencies may hire foreign composers, producers, and choreographers to ensure K-pop songs feel "local" to foreign countries.
Despite Lee's claim that he coined the term "cultural technology," South Korean computer scientist Kwangyun Wohn said he coined the term "culture technology" in 1994. Cultural technology has also been one of six technology initiatives of the South Korean government since 2001. In regards to cultural technology, the Korean Wave is considered one of the most successful outcomes of government support of exporting Korean entertainment products.