We can say that Myeongdong, Seoul’s main shopping street, is the face of modern Korea which is driven by the “Hallyu“ or “Korean Wave” which is a collective term for the phenomenal growth of Korean popular culture encompassing everything from music, movies, drama to clothes and cuisine. The Korean Wave first spread to China and Japan around the year 2000, later to Southeast Asia and several countries worldwide where it continues to have a strong impact and has become one of the biggest cultural phenomena across Asia.
As we walk in Myeongdong we can see various paraphernalia of K-pop and K-drama in the shops, from calendars and coffee mugs to t-shirts, socks and even potato chips, just about everything featuring the faces of the country’s most celebrated idols. We can see faces of K-pop girl group Girl’s Generation, Blackpink, or boy group Exo , Super Junior on shirts as well as on stationeries, and also we can see traces of Winter Sonata, Autumn in My Heart, or My Sassy Girl on displays reminding us of the popular K- Dramas.
The Korean pop culture also influenced both women and men around Asia nowadays to have more interest toward Korean skin care and makeup products. Yoona of Girls’ Generation group has been chosen as a model for Innisfree, and Taeyeon also of Girls’ Generation promotes Nature Republic to bring Korean cosmetics to become a globally recognized brand with their clean images. Because of that in recent years, Korean cosmetics have stormed Asia in just about every corner. From face masks and body cream to cleansing products and hand lotions, Korea has some of the best, and most affordable, beauty products on the market. That is why both small cosmetics shops and department stores at Myeongdong are always packed with many shoppers to look for the products of The Faceshop, Innisfree, Missha, Nature, Tony Moly, Etude House etc.
Myeongdong which in Korean means “bright tunnel” or “bright cave” perhaps has its image enhanced by the bright, shiny, and polished image of this place and the Korean pop idols. You may see everywhere advertisement at this “bright tunnel” displays beautiful faces promoting flashy brand clothing, smooth cosmetics, and fashion accessories. Whether shown on billboards or on TV screens, jackets, hats, and outfits can become iconic when worn by Exo’s Chanyeol, Twice’s Nayeon, or BTS’ Suga. High rise department stores and small stores popping up acting as a platform to encourage you to buy latest style clothing, with a K-pop idol standing card-board welcoming you at the front door.