The Korean Culturewave

Can highly recommend the big new exhibition at the V & A Museum in London, Hallyu! The Korean Wave which looks at the hugely influential K-film and TV, K-pop and K-fashion and beauty that has swept the globe since the mid-90s.

Parasite and Squid Game, BTS and BlackPink, Vogue cover fashion designers…it’s a powerhouse that really challenges the global currents of popular culture.

There’s a huge amount the West should learn here.

The dynamic music and art comes at the end of a remarkable trajectory that carried Korea from the hardship of Japanese dominance, getting carved up by the West after WWII and the subsequent proxy war to becoming one of the most technologically advanced and artistically exciting countries in the world.

That transformation comes from daring strategies, technological innovation and a ppalli-ppalli (quick-quick) ethos where speed is of the essence.

This process, called ‘compressed modernity’, has generated paradoxes in South Korean society where cutting edge technology co-exists with centuries-old shamanistic and Confucian ritual.

Hallyu emerges from that tension between the traditional values of 500 years of Joseon Dynasty rule and new 21C norms.

If you get a chance, the exhibition is well-worth a visit. Videos if you do the V & A K-pop dance challenge.