Home Art & Culture Hallyu! The Korean Wave

Hallyu! The Korean Wave

Hallyu! The Korean Wave manifests the creations of the Korean wave through music, drama, cinema, and fandoms and also underlines its cultural impacts on the fashion and beauty industries. Around 200 objects across four thematic sections are featured in the exhibition, incorporating some loans never seen in the UK before, accompanied by popular culture ephemera and digital displays. The exhibition invites visitors to delve into the Korean phenomenon popularly known as Hallyu, which means the Korean wave. Since the late 1990s, Hallyu has risen to prominence, rippling throughout Asia before stretching to all corners of the world and challenging today’s global pop culture. It includes K-Pop costumes and the newly released K-Pop dance interaction challenges, along with K-drama, cinema props, posters, photography, sculptures, video, fashion, and so on.

About the Exhibition

The exhibition opens with PSY’s 2012 viral video of his hit single “Gangnam Style,” along with his iconic pink suit on display. The sensational video portrays an early reflection of the international appeal of Hallyu, which led to a global phenomenon, inspiring parodies, and various cover versions across the globe. The four sections of the exhibition incorporate:

  • From Rubble to Smartphone: It provides historical context for Hallyu’s dynamic rise and highlights how, within living memory, South Korea evolved from a country ravaged by war in the late 1950s to a leading cultural powerhouse in the 2000s.South Korea’s modern history is represented and exhibited through photography, posters, and various archival materials.
  • Spotlight on K-Drama and Cinema: This section focuses on the commendable success of K-Drama and cinema, which rose in popularity from the late 1990s to the present day. The exhibition highlights the iconic pink guard costumes and green tracksuits from the popular Netflix series, Squid Game, along with the recreation of the bathroom set from the Oscar-winning film, Parasite.
  • Sounding K-Pop and Fandoms: This section delves into the exploration of K-Pop music, which has become popular all over the world while emphasising the critical roles that fandoms and social media have played in broadening its reach. Another highlight in the section is an interactive K-pop dance challenge, inviting visitors to try their hands at the dance moves to “that-that,” a song by PSY, which was co-written and co-produced with SUGA from BTS.
  • Making K-Beauty and Fashion: This section represents Korean beauty and fashion, which underlines the origins whilst displaying their experimental and innovative approach. This led to new standards in aesthetics both inside and outside of Korea. The product placements in K-dramas and endorsements from K-pop idols have magnified the international profile of K-beauty and fashion, which are highlighted in the exhibition.

The exhibition concludes with K-fashion, showcasing over 20 looks by contemporary fashion designers and hanbok from Korea and the Korean diaspora. Thus, the exhibition, beginning from September 24th, 2022 to June 25th, 2023, will be celebrating these colourful and vibrant popular cultures of South Korea from the commencement of its place on a global stage.