Hyundai believes it can boost its market share in Myanmar to over 15% over the next three to four years thanks to the popularity of South Korean culture in the country.

The automaker opened its first showroom in Yangon in August and plans 14 dealerships in major cities by 2018 as it seeks to take advantage of the small, but growing market currently dominated by Japanese manufacturers.

South Korean culture, known as the Korean Wave or Hallyu, has swept through Asia in recent years generating billions of dollars in revenue from drama and pop music.

Oh Sei-young, chief executive of Hyundai importer Kolao Holdings, said: “Young people in Myanmar who watch Korean dramas visit our showroom and look for cars that were shown in the dramas.”

Myanmar’s car market started to take off in 2011 after the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein took over from the military government, allowing some old cars to be swapped for permits to import newer models.

Myanmar will see 331,468 passenger cars registered this year, up 24% year on year, according to Kolao, who added that only six out of 1,000 people own cars.

Hyundai sells the Starex van and Elantra small sedan in Myanmar and is targeting sales of 1,500 cars next year in the country, Oh said.

In neighbouring Laos, Kolao Holdings imports and sells new Hyundai, Kia and Chery cars. It also assembles knock-down kits of second-hand imported cars, controlling 37% of the country’s imported car market.