Hallyu: The Korean wave at V&A - a joyful and high energy show

The V&A's exhibition examining the popular culture of South Korea is a fun and high energy show and is well-worth visiting if you are in London.

Hallyu: The Korean wave explores the global impact of Korean culture through some 200 objects ranging from clips of Psy's Gangnam Style video and flashing K-pop light sticks to the cramped bathroom set from the Oscar winning film Parasite and contemporary takes on traditional Korean hanbok dress.

The show starts with a small section telling the story of Korea's rapid ascension from war-torn nation to leading powerhouse of modernity Here you will find Olympics posters, the world's first commercial MP3 player, a monumental 1986 video sculpture by artist Nam June Paik and a pot of Lucky Cream, the first Korean moisturiser, tells the origins of the mighty LG brand.

The second section looks at the remarkable success of K-drama and film. Highlights in this section include the iconic pink guard costumes and green tracksuit from hit Netflix series Squid Game, and a recreation of the bathroom set from Bong Joon-Ho's Oscar-winning film Parasite.

Ⓒ Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The show really catches its stride in the section exploring K-Pop music around the world. Here you will find aespa's original iridescent outfits from the music video Next Level, British punk fashion-inspired ensembles worn by four members of ATEEZ and an interactive K-pop dance challenge. In a quiet corner of section, there are stories of K-pop fandom’s online activism for Black Lives Matter and their donations of bags of rice to their idols after each concert which are then gifted to charity.

The final section looks at beauty and fashion and ends with 20 extraordinary looks by contemporary hanbok and fashion designers from Korea and the Korean diaspora. 

Ⓒ Victoria and Albert Museum, London

To coincide with the exhibition, there is a beautifully illustrated catalogue, Hallyu!  The Korean Wave, edited by Rosalie Kim. 

The show runs until 25 June 2023 and is open daily 10.00–16.00 (Fridays 20.00). Adult tickets are from £20, with discounts for under 26s.