K.Imchi, a fermented marinade, led the way in creating the flavor of colorful Korean dishes in Britain. He was followed by the youth wave of K-pop hysteria. Then these two international screen hits came out, shocking 2020 Oscar winner Bong Joon-ho Parasite and last year’s brutal TV series Playing squids.
Now, South Korean influence is spreading just as quickly in the highbrow culture, with the K-music and visual arts season kicking off in London and a major exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum to offer a kaleidoscopic vision of South Korean creativity.
The title of the V&A show, Hallyu! (“Korean wave!”), He sums it up. The exhibition, which opens on September 24, will proudly show the jacket worn by the singer Gangnam Style Psy in his 2012 viral blockbuster, but will also place the current explosion of Korean energy in a wider cultural context.
Prior to Friday, the exterior of the Coronet Theater, a major arts center in Notting Hill, west London, will be completely covered with the work of Choi Jeong-hwa, an inflatable art specialist, as a way to announce the arrival of late summer Korean creativity inside the building. Choi’s sculpture will decorate the facade of the theater with shapes made of balloons and wires, as well as recycled and found items, and the artist’s work will also be on display inside the theater.
“The things I’ve seen in Korea in the last few years have surprised me,” said Anda Winters, artistic director of the Coronet Theater. “There is such an exciting use of cultural traditions and skills, but always with a twist.”
Winters’ passion for Korean contemporary art stems from her first visit to Seoul more than 20 years ago: “I’ve seen so many changes, both economic and artistic – and, of course, everything was influenced by the West. But they still use artifacts, items and manners from their own traditions, ”she said.
Much of the work featured in the monthly season of Coronet can be described as “avant-garde”, except that both Korean street food and popular mass entertainment have already served as vanguard, paving the way for a more sophisticated influx of top Koreans. artists. In fact, two years ago, BTS, the superstar of the K-pop boy band, deliberately made contact with the world of fine arts by sponsoring 22 art installations in London, Buenos Aires, Berlin, New York and Seoul called Connect, BTS. The British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley created the project Clearingan installation for Brooklyn Bridge Park resembling a giant thin toy made of interconnected metal coils running along the edge of the East River.
The growing importance of Seoul’s art and design is explored in a new book by Fiona Bae, Make Break Remix: The Rise of K-Style, next month. Containing a series of interviews with key designers and commentators, it suggests that both commercial creativity and the independent practice of contemporary art are experiencing an unprecedented boom. Seoul will confirm this new status in the cultural firmament early next month with its first Frieze art fair.
Coronet named its season The tiger is coming; a phrase chosen by artist Choi to spark interest in the entire story, computer generated sound, art and dance, which takes place through October.
Leenalchi, the new sensation of band K, will perform for the first time outside of Korea, with three performances that will coincide with the South Korean thanksgiving festival Chuseok. The six-piece band, more like alt-pop in style and content than mainstream hits, draws from this pansori, the musical tradition of storytelling, as well as dance and rap. Their latest song Let’s Live for Today was included in the original version of the acclaimed Apple TV + series Pachinko.
The music will also come from the Tacit Group, a band of composers and media artists that is also making its debut in London after performing in New York, Chicago and Denmark. They use math codes to create an immersive audio experience that changes every time it is played.
A series of dance films devoted to the geography and nature of Jeju, an island on the southernmost tip of the Korean Peninsula, will be screened, as well as a performance A concert of the body, a track from the award-winning Ambiguous Dance Company, directed by Boram Kim. The company appeared last year in Coldplay’s music video for Higher Power.
Another dance job, Body-go-Roundwill be a “mixed reality performance” by Collective A, led by Cha Jinyeob, who was the choreography director at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The theater will be represented by the award-winning company Dolpagu, which is to present a performance that examines gender and social class over the generations. “I’ve wanted to move all this work to London for years,” said Winters, “and the whole world is certainly paying attention to it now.”