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V&A holds first major exhibition on Korean culture

The ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’ exhibition will debut at London’s V&A Museum in September. It will be the first exhibition of its type to honour South Korea’s vibrant popular culture scene.

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From 24th September, 2022, through 25th June, 2023, ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’ will study Korean culture through film, drama, music, and fandoms and highlight  the movement’s influence on the beauty and fashion industries.

The exhibition will encourage viewers to learn more about the “Korean Wave” phenomenon known as “hallyu,” which first gained notoriety in Asia in the late 1990s before spreading to other parts of the world.

In four thematic sections, “From Rubble to Smartphones,” “Setting the Scene,” “Global Groove,” and “Inside Out,” it will include more than 200 items, some of which have never been seen in the UK. These include K-Pop costumes, K-drama props, and posters, as well as photography, sculpture, fashion, video, and pop culture memorabilia and digital displays.

The exhibition’s opening act will be a showcase of Psy’s viral 2012 hit track “Gangnam Style,” alongside a display of the singer’s signature pink suit jacket. The song and its eccentric dancing techniques became an overnight hit, and the wildly popular video was an early indicator of hallyu’s global appeal and the beginning of a craze that would span the globe.

The immersive recreation of Parasite’s bathroom set, a collection of iconic costumes and props from K-drama, film, and music, including those from the popular Netflix series Squid Game, and clothing from various generations of K-pop idols, from Psy to Aespa and Attez, will be among the other highlights.

The exhibition will also feature 20 high-end pieces by Tchai Kim, Miss Sohee, Münn, and Minju Kim, as well as a showcase of modern Korean fashion designers that are making vibrant, eye-catching clothing. Examples of the displays include Kim Seo Ryong overcoat worn by Jin from BTS in their Summer Package 2019.

The fashion area also includes a look designed especially for the V&A by renowned stylist Suh Younghee, as well as pieces inspired by traditional clothing and patterns.

“South Korea has captivated the world over with ‘hallyu’, its vibrant and creative popular culture, which has transformed the country’s image from one devastated by the Korean War to that of a leading cultural powerhouse in the era of social media and digital culture today,” said Rosalie Kim, curator of Hallyu! The Korean Wave.

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“This phenomenon has been amplified by tech-savvy and socially conscious global fanbases, further raising the profile and relevance of hallyu around the world, and we’re delighted to be bringing its energy and dynamism to the V&A this autumn in the first exhibition of its kind,” added Kim.