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Ride the Korean Wave – ‘Hallyu’ or K-Culture has arrived!

October 27, 2020 Visit North Asia No Comments

The Korean Wave, also known as Hallyu, describes the outflow of Korean culture to other countries. Cultural exports such as K-pop music, K-drama along with Korean food and pop culture have increased in popularity.  Korean films have new audiences since South Korean movie, Parasite’s win for Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars, which was the first time a non-English language film had won the award.  However most cannot forget (even if they wanted to) the viral music hit ‘Gangnam style’ a song that first brought K-pop to the masses.

Since then a ‘new wave’ of K-pop bands has risen to popularity such as Blackpink, BTS and EXO.  You only have to go as far as Netflix to watch the latest K-pop documentary on the rising girl group Blackpink or tune into some K-drama, found on SBS, to know that the K-wave is well and truly here.

When the borders open again for K-fans you can get your fix of culture whether it’s visiting your favourite K-drama studio or hanging with fans outside a K-pop singer’s recording studio, taking a K-movie tour or visiting one of the many restaurants and cafes that have acted as backdrops for album covers and photoshoots for the stars – there are plenty of opportunities to get your fill of all things Hallyu on your next visit to South Korea.

  • K-Star Road acts as the gateway to Gangnam, the heart of the K-pop industry in Seoul and features a series of K-pop statues devoted to South Korean music superstars.  The backstreets and alleys also showcase many musical points of interest from entertainment agency buildings, to K-pop star-owned cafes.
  • Head to Starfield COEX Mall to dance to Psy’s 2012 song, ‘Gangnam style,’ under the Gangnam style statue located outside the mall’s east gate.
  • Visit one of the many favourite cafes and restaurants of K-pop stars such as Cofioca in Apgujeong where EXO member Sehun gets his favourite bubble tea, Chosun Hwaro is a favourite of BIGBANG, amongst other celebrities, and is well-known for its grilled ribs, Yoojung Restaurant was popular with the group even before they rose to fame and fans often leave gifts for them, while Cheongdamgol situated near a production agency, is often referred to as an idol cafeteria due to the frequent visits from the agency artists looking for a home-cooked meal.
  • There are plenty of Hallyu tours in Seoul in order to really experience K-culture.  Try Hallyu Star Makeup Classes, Hallyu K-Food Cooking Classes or a K-Musical Tour. See Hallyu Tours for more details.
  • Get your dose of K-pop fandom at the Asia Song Festival which features a number of South Korea’s top K-pop music acts every year.
  • Visit South Korea in late October to attend one of Asia’s top International Film Festivals – The Busan International Film Festival.
  • Party like you have never before at EDM Music Festival Ultra Korea, one of the largest electronic dance music festivals in the world.
  • The Pentaport Festival (Incheon) are also popular summer music festivals to attend in South Korea.
  • Record your own K-pop song at King Studio near Apgujeong Station in Seoul.  It’s actually the same studio where famous K-pop singers such as Park Hyo-Shin, Sung Si Kyung, Tei, VIXX, Seo In-Guk, and Jung Eun Ji come for their own recording!
  • For a K-pop shopping fix go to the Kyobo Bookstore for K-pop albums and photobooks.  The shelves are arranged by artists and is your best bet for finding that elusive album.  The flagship and the largest store can be found at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul.  Or try the underground shopping mall at the Myeongdong station for the craziest merchandise including socks, nail decals, magnets or umbrellas!
  • For fans, try the company headquarters of CUBE Entertainment’s 20 Space Cafe where you can pick up some official K-pop merchandise and CDs and you may even see your favourite Cube artist in person. Relax to some of CUBE artists’ more relaxing tunes and enjoy a coffee – ordering a drink comes with a K-pop surprise.
  • Take an intense K-pop training program to master your skills in vocals, dance, instrument or music composition.  There are 4-10 week programs to hone your skills and give you experience in auditions, styling, profile photoshoots and stage practice.
  • In 2019 the Seoul City Government announced plans for a K-Pop mecca to be completed in 2024 and they have begun construction of a purpose built, and first of its kind, concerts-only arena to be named, ‘Seoul Arena’.  It is expected to hold concerts 200 days a year along with a K-pop hall of fame, a K-pop exhibition centre, theatres and a mid-sized performance hall that can accommodate 2,000 people.
  • Take souvenir photos with hallyu stars using advanced technology in the Hallyu Experience Zone at the K-style Hub.

While we’re waiting for the borders to open why not bring some K-culture into your home.  From 29 October – 5 November the Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) returns for its 11th year with a digital program showcasing the very best in Korean cinema.  Go to https://koffia.com.au/2020/  to watch the films for free during the festival dates.

Presented by the Korean Cultural Centre Australia, the 2020 Festival will screen 18 feature films to audiences across Australia. From the compelling true story behind a Korean President’s assassination to an award-winning drama based on a ground-breaking feminist bestseller, the Festival showcases an eclectic program from Korea’s pre-eminent filmmakers.

In addition to this year’s free digital program, the Korean Film Festival has partnered with SBS On Demand to present Korean Film Festival Selects. Curated by Korean Film Festival Chairwoman Sojeong Park, the collection features seven much-loved feature films showcasing beloved past offerings from the Festival which include some of Korea’s most iconic titles such as Oscar winning director Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece Mother, zombie horror-thriller Train to Busan and the epic period war flick The Great Battle. Audiences can binge the ‘Korean Film Festival Selects’ collection from 1 to 8 November on SBS On Demand.

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