You’d have had to live under a rock to have missed the massive rise in popularity of Korean culture in the past few years, across music, films, fashion and more. Since the 2000s, Western countries have become enarmouned by the vibrant creativity of Korea, and a new exhibition at the V&A aims to celebrate it.

Titled Hallyu! The Korean Wave, the upcoming event, which begins in September, will explore and illuminate the very best of Korean culture, from PSY and BTS to Parasite to Squid Game.

Squid Game

The exhibition gets it’s name from the word Hallyu, meaning “Korean Wave”, which first rose to prominence in the 1990s, largely in Asian countries. During the 2000s and 2010, the wave began to expand and hit the shores of countries all around the world, with Korean culture beginning to establish itself and beginning to fuse with Western culture. The exhibition will feature over 200 different objects relating to these cultural exports, as well as digital displays across four different sections.

Ji Won Choi x Adidas
The Peony Dress

The first section of the Hallyu exhibition will give you insight into the historical context of the Korean wave, charting the rise of South Korea away from a war torn country half way through the 20th Century into a powerhouse, with posters and archive materials commemorating events like the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the world’s first MP3 player.

From there, section two will focus on the remarkable output of Korean film and drama, and its growing impact on tv and film in the English speaking world. Films like 2003’s acclaimed and influential Oldboy, 2019’s Best Picture winning Parasite, and shows like the phenomenon of Squid Game will all feature. Outfits from Squid Game and and a reconstruction of the bathroom in Parasite will be just two of the centrepieces in the exhibition.


The third section delves into K-Pop, one of the biggest exports from the country, and how it exploded across the world, underlying how fandoms and social media have contributed to its spread and popularity. A sculpture of singer songwriter G-Dragon, outfits from the music video Next Level, and punk inspired costumes worn by ATEEZ will all feature in this section.

The final section will explore Korean beauty and fashion, charting the origins of Korean cosmetics from way back in the 13th Century up to the present day, and showcases ornaments and packaging design from across Korean history. The fashion section showcases over 20 looks from designers in Korea and the Korean diaspora. Stylist Suh Younghee has created a look for display specifically for the V&A exhibition.

The exhibition will officially launch on Saturday 24th September, with tickets available to book now on the V&A website. It promises to provide a truly fascinating look into Korean culture and how it’s helping shape Western cultures, and invites you to celebrate all it has to offer. It’s a must for anyone who’s a fan of K-Pop or Korean movies.

Hallyu: The Korean Wave Exhibition begins on 24th September at the V&A, BOOK TICKETS HERE

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