Five Reasons to Attend London's ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave' Exhibition

Five Reasons to Attend London's ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave' Exhibition



The Hallyu wave exhibition surfed its way into the V&A museum in London on September 25 to showcase the history of South Korea and the Hallyu wave effect. Having attended, I could not recommend it enough whether you love K-pop, K-dramas, or want to delve into the South Korean cultural experience. If unsure, here are five reasons you should attend the Hallyu exhibit. 


South Korean history and artifacts (From Rubble to Smartphones)


From the minute the doors open, singer Psy greets you with his smash hit “Gangnam Style” a glimpse into how much effort has been placed into the exhibit. The amount of artifacts collected (500 to be exact) alongside history starts section one nicely. A short history of South Korea is given, such as the Korean war and its impact on the Korean people.


With this, we see how the economy grew slowly through various ways and the power of technology. Stacked to the ceiling are various models of TVs for those of us who remember the mobile phone as a brick we’re thrown back to the development of the mobile phone, TV, games consoles, and music systems. Slotted in nicely are the Olympic games and traditional hanbok leading us to the next room. 


Spotlight K-Drama and Cinema

As someone who’s entered the K-drama realm this year, there are many expansive genres to get stuck in. Section two has something for fans who love the old classics from the early 1990s and merch coming from the popularity.


Standing in the middle is the show that broke records and earned many awards, bringing Korean, film, and TV a little more into the mainstream - Squid Game. The backdrop accompanies the three striking recognizable outfits, which sit alongside traditional Hanbok from period K-dramas.



Each room has so much information about dramas and their impact on society both in western and Eastern culture, topics such as femme masculinity and breaking boundaries.


Layout


From the K-drama room, the layout glides effortlessly without thought of where to go next. Each room's themes follow organically, and K-drama flows into Korean Film, with a mini set from 2019’s hit ‘Parasite.’ An in-depth analysis board allows the visitor to read about the societal impact and the think pieces that followed the film's release. From the start, we get the history of South Korea and the cultural impact that quickly followed. Beginning with technology and its rapid rise among young people and TV, leading K-dramas, cinema, and soundtracks into K-pop, Kpop outfits into K-beauty, and ending with fashion. 


Sensory and visual Experience


From the start, you’re blasted into a loud and proud “Gangnam Style” display of TV playing various scenes from the music video. Each screen shows scenes of PSY, and dance challenges, beside the screen, is the outfit from the video. Although it's a great start to the exhibit, the song is incredibly loud, overshadowing the next room. If you get distracted, plug in your headphones and play something soothing whilst reading. For me, the most visually pleasing was the K-pop lightstick wall watching them play in various colors leading to the fandom room gliding nicely.


 

The eyes and ears are treated with each room and fit the theme accordingly. The K-pop room is the most stimulating, with outfits, colors, and sound. 


Sounding K-pop and Fandoms (The K-pop Experience)


For me, this was the best room for the exhibition (surprise.) From the start, you're greeted with fandom lightsticks from an array of fandoms from the very first one to the present day with BTS to Seventeen. A historical timeline presents the first burst of Kpop bands on the scene to today. An in-depth analysis goes into underlining the power of fandoms in K-pop and the power of fandoms and social media play. Banners donated by fans of UK shows are beautifully draped, which the sheer visual stage steps up a gear.


Two rooms are there to grab you by the eyes and ears via their main display. Sitting center is stage outfits from bands such as Ateez, and aespa to name a few. Accompanying that is a giant screen with a K-pop music video montage featuring the most popular bands from the last years. 



We all know how much tik-tok dance challenges roam the internet, and for those who are up to the challenge, three levels are available, debut, rookie, and superstar. Accept the challenge and battle out to Psy feat Suga’s (BTS) hit single “That That” dance moves are onscreen for you and your friends to battle it out.


The Gift Shop


If you need an extra reason - the gift shop is home to some cute merch, but more importantly, the exhibition book has a more in-depth, year-by-year thesis-like topic by topics such as the impact of K-pop fandoms and the effect in the west. It’s a great piece of literature to own as it also has more exhibit photos and topics that couldn't house everything inside. 


It took me over an hour to walk around the exhibit, if you were to read everything, you’re more than likely to be there a little longer. The exhibit is incredibly well-curated, balanced, and informative, it was also nice to see a lot of British fandom's contributions showcased.


The exhibit runs until June 25th, 2023 tickets are £20 after the exhibition wander around the V&A. The museum is free and a fantastical historical building in London. They have a wide range of Asian culture, and artworks. Tickets for ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave can be found here.


Kirsty Bright

A UK freelancer writer, who stumbled into the land of K-pop whilst studying Korean. Her K-pop journey started in 2021 discovering BTS (she just wanted to know their names) and since then fell in love with TXT and Mirae. Besides learning Korean she loves going to festivals, gigs and delving into a good K-drama!

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