Fashion, art, music and film come together in this stimulating and exciting one-of-a-kind exhibition celebrating pop culture of South Korea.
Upon entering you are immediately struck by content – video screens pop in bright colours, words in large fonts flash and fade, PSY’s Gangnam Style blares from speakers. This is an exhibition unlike anything at V&A before.
Hallyu! The Korean Wave is divided thematically, each section exploring a different element of Korean pop culture; fashion, beauty, art, music and film. However, the exhibit doesn’t just stick to the modern day – historic objects are juxtapositioned against costumes from recent films. The V&A does a fantastic job of blending striking installations with well-placed historically important articles. Each object here contributes to telling the story of post-conflict Korea.
The exhibition design guides you through the show perfectly, the clever use of shop-front-like display cabinets creating intrigue and interest along the way. A little further in, one particular highlight is the space ‘Setting the Scene’. Here, we focus on the success of Korean television drama and film – something that has definitely not gone unnoticed in the UK also. The objects in this space need no labels, as many are household names. We see a full recreation of the bathroom from Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film Parasite, family photos sit behind glass from recent hit Minari and three mannequins stand tall in costumes from the smash Netflix series Squid Game.
The exhibition concludes with ‘Global Groove’ an interactive installation made in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture Lab. Here, you can become a K-Pop star – learn the routines, copy the choreography and see yourself projected on the big screen. An innovative way of involving adults and children alike.
Hallyu! The Korean Wave is a fun and engaging exhibition, and certainly the first of its kind. The exhibition allows us to reflect on and revisit the amazing contributions to popular culture and creativity made by South Korea – a show not to be missed.
‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’, runs from 24 September 2022 – 25 June 2023 at the V&A South Kensington. Tickets are available here: vam.ac.uk. The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism – Republic of Korea and Genesis. With additional support from The Bagri Foundation and Netmarble Healer.B
Reviewed by Amy Melling –Amy is a Curator and Creative Producer whose practice is centred around community-led arts projects. Her current research is focused on curatorial methods for exhibiting artworks outside. Amy has a keen interest in the arts and recently completed an MA in Curating and Collections at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.
Read Amy’s latest review Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics, Barbican Art Gallery (abundantart.net)