V&A celebrates ‘Korean Wave’ of popular culture with new exhibition

Gallery assistants look at "Storytelling through costumes: Squid Game" during the press view of "Hallyu! The Korean Wave" exhibition at the V&A in London, Britain, September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson
Gallery assistants look at "Storytelling through costumes: Squid Game" during the press view of "Hallyu! The Korean Wave" exhibition at the V&A in London, Britain, September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

From the bright pink guard costumes in hit Netflix series “Squid Game” to a large sculpture of rapper G-Dragon, London’s V&A museum is celebrating South Korean popular culture and its rise to global prominence in a new exhibition opening this week.

Among the items on display at “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” are K-Pop costumes, K-drama props as well as a replica of the bathroom set in Oscar-winning film “Parasite”.

A gallery assistant looks at “K-pop – exporting hallyu to the world” during the press view of “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” exhibition at the V&A in London, Britain, September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

“This exhibition is actually celebrating the vibrant and colourful popular culture from South Korea from its inception to its place on the global stage,” curator Rosalie Kim told Reuters at a preview on Wednesday.

“‘Hallyu’ actually means Korean wave and it refers to this meteoric rise of popular culture from South Korea that has taken the world by storm in the past few decades.”

A gallery assistant looks at “Making K-beauty and fashion” during a press view of “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” exhibition at the V&A in London, Britain, September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

The exhibition is split into different sections including K-pop and its fans, television drama and cinema, fashion and beauty.

Greeting visitors is the pink jacket singer Psy wore in the music video for his 2012 mega hit “Gangnam Style”. Other outfits on display include ensembles worn by G-Dragon and K-pop groups ATEEZ and Aespa as well as colourful designer creations.

A gallery assistant looks at “Making K-beauty and fashion” during a press view of “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” exhibition at the V&A in London, Britain, September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

From the world of television, there are costumes from historical dramas as well as the recognisable pink boiler suits and a green tracksuit from “Squid Game”.

The “Parasite” bathroom replica is the first time the set from the protagonist Kim family’s basement flat has been recreated, with the museum working closely with the film’s production designer Lee Ha-jun.

A gallery assistant looks at “K-pop lightsticks” during a press view of “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” exhibition at the V&A in London, Britain, September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

Other items on display include photographs, posters, record covers and K-pop fan banners. Visitors can also take part in an interactive K-pop dance challenge.

“Hallyu! The Korean Wave” opens on Saturday and runs until June.

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