Subcultures: Korean Culture
From music to food, beauty products, and TV, the culture of Korea has become a part of pop culture. From BTS and BlackPink to mukbang channels on YouTube and just name your favorite K-drama the culture of Korea has never been more accessible.
According to Wikipedia, the Korean Wave or Hallyu is the cultural phenomenon in which the global popularity of South Korean popular culture has dramatically risen since the 1990s. A big part of the Korean Wave has been K-pop and K-dramas. At this point, many people are familiar with groups like BTS and BlackPink and have watched Squid Game. Before BlackPink and BTS, the Western world was introduced to K-pop in 2005 with hip-hop artist Rain as well as rapper PSY and his single Gangnam Style a song named after the Gangnam district of Seoul. BTS became a global phenomenon and in May of 2018, BTS became the first K-pop artists to reach number one on the U.S Billboard 200 album chart.
K-dramas gained worldwide attention with the release of Squid Game on Netflix and speaking of Netflix, they have an entire section dedicated to K-dramas with shows like The Glory, Sky Castle, and Boys Over Flowers available to watch. You’ve probably seen actors and actresses with Korean ancestry in many of your favorite movies and TV shows. I’m going to list a few here but this won’t even be close to an extensive list, so I’ll drop a link to IMDB here for you to check out:
Daniel Henney: currently playing Lan Mandragoran in The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime, he’s also been in Missing, Criminal Minds, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Big Hero 6.
Awkwafina: currently in Renfield, she’s also been in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Raya and the Last Dragon.
John Cho: has been in the JJ Abrams Star Trek films, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Cowboy Bebop.
Steven Yeun: is currently in Invincible and Beef and has also been in Nope and The Walking Dead.
Margaret Cho: has been in The L Word: Generation Q, The Flight Attendant, and Drop Dead Diva.
Ken Jeong: currently a judge on The Masked Singer he has also been in The Hangover, Crazy Rich Asians, and Bob’s Burgers.
Daniel Dae Kim: has been in Hawaii Five-O, Lost, Raya and the Last Dragon, and New Amsterdam.
Sandra Oh: currently in Invincible she’s been in Killing Eve, Grey’s Anatomy, and Raya and the Last Dragon.
And soon you’ll be able to see BlackPink’s Jennie Kim in the HBO show The Idol with The Weeknd.
If you’ve been online for the past few years or so, then you’re probably familiar with the term mukbang. Mukbang, a portmanteau of the Korean words for eating and broadcast/show, became popular in South Korea in 2010 and has gone on to become a global trend.
The dish we’re probably most familiar with in the U.S. is kimchi, which is made up of pickled vegetables that you can buy in just about any grocery store. Kimchi is something that can be made at home too. I’ve heard stories about my cousin’s mom making kimchi at home and that there would be jars of kimchi fermenting under the kitchen sink. Other popular Korean dishes include bibimbap, which is rice mixed with vegetables, egg, a spicy sauce, and sometimes meat. There’s also jjajangmyon, noodles in a black-bean sauce, puloggi, marinated meat grilled over charcoal, and samgyet’ang a soup of stewed whole chicken stuffed with rice and ginseng.
I’ll link a video to Korean mukbang YouTuber Stephanie Soo here, so you can get a feel for mukbang’s and Korean food as well.
And last, but not least, is K-beauty. The glass skin look has become very popular and with that so have K-beauty products. Wikipedia states that K-beauty focuses on health, and hydration, and has an emphasis on brightening effects. For more on K-beauty, I’ll link a video to YouTuber Safiya Nygaard trying a Korean skincare routine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into Korean culture as part of a look into pop culture subcultures.