The V&A opens the landmark exhibition Hallyu! The Korean Wave – the first exhibition of its kind to celebrate the colourful and dynamic popular culture of South Korea, following its early origins to its place on the global stage today.
From K-pop costumes and a newly revealed interactive K-pop dance challenge, to K-drama and cinema props and posters, alongside photography, sculpture, fashion, video and pop culture ephemera, the exhibition invites visitors to delve into the phenomenon known as ‘hallyu’ – meaning ‘Korean Wave’. Hallyu rose to prominence in the late 1990s, rippling across Asia before reaching all corners of the world and challenging the currents of global pop culture today. Hallyu! The Korean Wave explores the makings of the Korean Wave through cinema, drama, music and fandoms, and underlines its cultural impact on the beauty and fashion industries. The exhibition features around 200 objects across four thematic sections – including some loans never seen in the UK before – alongside pop culture ephemera and digital displays.
Highlights include an immersive re-creation of Parasite’s bathroom set, and an array of iconic costumes and props seen in K-drama, film and music – including from hit Netflix series Squid Game, and outfits worn by different generations of K-pop idols, from PSY, to aespa and ATEEZ. It also presents monumental artworks, including by Nam June Paik, Ham Kyungah and Gwon Osang; excerpts from well-known K-cinema, drama, and K-pop music videos; around 20 high fashion looks by Tchai Kim, Miss Sohee and Minju Kim among others; as well as early examples of advertising and branding, including an original poster from the Seoul Olympics, and the first Korean branded cosmetic from the 1910s. In the exhibition, hallyu will also be used as a gateway to explore traditional and contemporary Korean culture by connecting historic objects with popular culture and socio-political events. A new highlight – revealed today – is an interactive K-pop dance challenge created in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, inviting visitors to try their hand at K-pop choreography for PSY’s ‘That That’, co-written and co-produced with SUGA from BTS.
Rosalie Kim, curator of Hallyu! The Korean Wave, said: “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. 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.”