The Inseparable Relationship of Korean Culture and Current Korean Trends

Written by: Minkyu

Edited by: Mariah

Visual by: Tatiana

In recent years in South Korea, a new trend has been created among Koreans which they call, “Do you know _______?” Everytime a new Korean trend blows up in Non-Korean countries, the Koreans will take pride in their culture asking, “Do you know Parasite? Do you know BTS? Do you know Squid Game?” We should never forget the beauty of Korean Culture itself that has been the root of many Korean hits including K-pop and Korean films. However sometimes, the beauty of the culture gets blurred by the significance of a trend.  

Looking at K-pop, many K-pop artists made a change to the music industry showing off the uniqueness of Korean Culture. One of the most famous K-pop group BTS’ leader RM said in a documentary, “While many bands originally performed with instruments and vocals, we as a K-pop group used dancing as our instrument.” As it’s mentioned, K-pop groups were really the very first band to dance and sing at the same time with synchronized movements from the start of a song till the end. Koreans’ dancing actually started way back in history where the country was not called South Korea, but “Chosun.” During the Chosun dynasty between 1392-1910, there was a traditional dance called “Tal-choom”; “Tal” meaning mask in Korean and “Choom” meaning dance. In “Tal-Choom” people would create their own masks and perform in front of hundreds of people which has now transformed into hundreds and thousands of K-pop choreography performances. Not only history, but K-pop music has been spotlighting on many different societal cultures of South Korea. For example, “Gangnam style” by PSY pinned one of the busiest places in Seoul, “Gangnam” filming a music video in the middle of the Korean streets attracting foreign listeners. 

Just like this, without the beautiful Korean society and culture itself, hundreds of K-pop hit songs would have been impossible to create. What about Korean films? While K-pop sometimes refers to the original traditions, Korean Films reflect on the society of South Korea.  Let me provide you with a few examples. Oscar-winning Korean Film “Parasite,”directed by Bong Joon-ho thoroughly depicts the sad truth of the Korean societies where differentiation of class still exists. Another trending Korean Film, “Squid Game” directed by Hwang Dong-Hyuk also depicts the Korean Society where some people still suffer in poverty. Korean visual arts promote the beauty of their country’s culture and society as no such film will want to criticize their own home country. However, while celebrating the beauty of their own culture, Korean films throw a critical view towards some systematic societal issues that must be improved in Korean Society.  

Culture is one of the most distinctive and remarkable characteristics a country can cultivate. Every culture has its own trait and identity,  It is important to consider the impact of a culture on trends in art, film and music so that whilst we enjoy the popularity of the new trend we can take time to consider how it reflects the culture it comes from and therefore understand it at a deeper level.