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V&A reveals more on its first major exhibition on Korean culture

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Jul 14, 2022


Image: V&A; Aespa 'Next Level' MV, 2021 SM Entertainment

London’s V&A Museum has revealed more details on its upcoming ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’ exhibition launching in September, which will mark the first exhibit of its kind to celebrate the colourful and dynamic popular culture of South Korea.

‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave,’ will run from September 24, 2022, to June 25, 2023, and will explore Korean culture through cinema, drama, music and fandoms and showcase its cultural impact on the beauty and fashion industries.

The exhibition will invite visitors to delve into the phenomenon known as ‘hallyu,’ meaning ‘Korean Wave,’ which rose to prominence in the late 1990s in Asia before becoming a global pop culture trend.

It will feature more than 200 objects, including some loans never seen in the UK before, across four thematic sections, ‘From Rubble to Smartphones,’ ‘Setting the Scene,’ ‘Global Groove,’ and ‘Inside Out’ including K-Pop costumes to K-drama props and posters, alongside photography, sculpture, fashion, video and pop culture ephemera and digital displays.

Image: V&A; PSY performs Gangnam Style, on Today, 2012, New York, USA. Courtesy of Jason Decrow, Invision, AP, Shutterstock

The exhibition will open with a familiar example of hallyu, Psy’s viral 2012 hit single ‘Gangnam Style’, with his iconic pink suit jacket on display. The song and its quirky dance moves were an overnight sensation, and the hugely successful video was an early reflection of hallyu’s international appeal that went on to launch a global phenomenon.

V&A’s ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’ exhibition opens on September 24

Other highlights will include an immersive re-creation of Parasite’s bathroom set, an array of iconic costumes and props seen in K-drama, film and music, including from the hit Netflix series Squid Game, and outfits worn by different generations of K-pop idols, from Psy to Aespa and Attez.

Image: V&A; Saekdong by Darcygom. Photo Jihoon Jung, courtesy Darcygom

The exhibit will also present 20 high fashion looks by Tchai Kim, Miss Sohee, Münn, and Minju Kim, and a display dedicated to contemporary Korean fashion designers creating colourful, showstopping garments, including a Kim Seo Ryong overcoat, as seen on Jin from BTS in their Summer Package 2019.

The fashion section also features a look specially created for the V&A by acclaimed stylist Suh Younghee, alongside a K-pop hanbok by C-Zann E, a pink jacket by Danha, and a purple cheollik dress by Tchai Kim, drawing their inspiration from traditional garments and patterns.

Image: V&A; The Peony dress by Miss Sohee, 2020 graduation collection ‘The Girl in Full Bloom’. Photograph by Daniel Sachon

There will also be a showcase of artworks by Nam June Paik, Ham Kyungah and Gwon Osang and early examples of advertising and branding, including an original poster from the Seoul Olympics and the first Korean branded cosmetic from the 1910s.

Rosalie Kim, curator of Hallyu! The Korean Wave, said in a statement: “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.”

Image: V&A; A Netflix Original Series. Squid Game Artwork 2021 Netflix
Image: V&A; Ji Won Choi x Adidas. Photo Francesca Allen, courtesy Adidas