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The Korean cultural wave, also known as Hallyu, has become a worldwide sensation in recent years, with Korean art, music, drama, food and more sweeping the globe. Thanks to global fervour over K-pop and K-beauty, many of the Korean diaspora have seen the culture they grew up with become a common sight well beyond South Korea’s borders.
“To see my way of life and how I grew up become a global phenomenon is kind of crazy,” said Irene Kim, the influencer and founder of apparel brand Ireneisgood.
This week on the BoF Podcast, Kim and Rosalie Kim, lead curator of the “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” exhibit at Victoria & Albert Museum join Yana Peel, Chanel’s head of culture and arts to share their experience growing up as part of the Korean community and seeing their culture spread globally.
Hallyu has had influence for years, but only recently has been recognised as a core soft power for South Korea, influencing everything from music to skin care. “It is really one of the most dynamic exporters of cultural content,” said Peel.
Social media has played a large part in accelerating South Korean trends, allowing what were once micro or geographic-based movements to become more globally accessible. “Because of the era of this digital and social media, we’ve been able to be discovered by the world,” said Irene Kim. “And we’re so excited that we’re able to share our way of life.”
Cultural influence can come as both an admiration of the culture itself as well as adoption of culture as one’s own. “There are two faces to the coin. On the one side… you have the film industry that is really looking at the local narrative but has universal appeal,” says Rosalie Kim. “On the other hand, you have industries like K-pop… where you get to have a foreign influence constantly permeating your own culture and becoming part of [it].”
- BoF VOICES 2022: Creativity and Its Power to Change: From South Korea and Japan to Ghana and Ukraine, speakers including Fast Retailing’s Koji Yanai, photographer Campbell Addy and stylist Julie Pelipas discussed the power of culture and creativity in the fourth session of BoF’s annual conference for big thinkers.