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Inside the V&A museum’s new Korean culture exhibition, ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’

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Hallyu! The Korean Wave will feature around 200 objects from outfits worn by K-pop groups ATEEZ and aespa to a recreation of the bathroom from Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning movie Parasite.

Digital displays and interactive installations will also take visitors deeper into the scenes the exhibition explores.Curator Rosalie Kim began pitching the exhibition to the Victoria & Albert museum in 2019 after noticing that younger visitors coming to the museum’s Korean Gallery and comparing items to ones they had seen in K-dramas and films. “A lot of exhibitions on Korea across the world focus on the Joseon Dynasty or the Goryeo Dynasty, but not necessarily popular culture,” Kim told NME. “I thought that, with the V&A being a museum of art, design and performance, we would be in the best position to stage an exhibition.”At the time, interest in Korean culture was growing but still “under the radar”. “If you were in the know, you knew, but if you weren’t, you didn’t necessarily know what Hallyu [a Korean word referring to the global popularity of the country’s culture] meant or what it involved,” Kim said.

But, as Korean arts continued to make big strides internationally with the success of Parasite, BTS, and BLACKPINK, and with the recent addition of 26 Korean words to the Oxford English Dictionary, the curator felt the exhibition “was coming at the right time”.The new display is split into four sections – one each dedicated to K-drama/movies, K-pop and beauty/fashion.

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