As far as trendy exports go, few countries can compete with South Korea's homegrown Korean Wave. This strategic exportation of culture is how K-pop has made its way across the Atlantic — with BTS and Blackpink playing at the Billboard Music Awards and Coachella, respectively — but it doesn't stop there. In the fashion space, South Korean brands like Gentle Monster have launched collaborations with global power players like Fendi. Another of South Korea's most successful exports is K-beauty, which took the U.S. by storm starting around 2011 when its first BB cream hit U.S. stores. Today it's a multi-billion dollar industry. (Fun fact: Mintel estimated its global worth at over $13 billion in 2017.)
Given the country's unique ability to create breakout global hits, when I got a chance to go to the epicenter of South Korean shopping on my recent trip to Seoul, I jumped on the opportunity to explore K-beauty and K-fashion trends at the source. But, seeing as it was my first time visiting Seoul, I thought it fitting to bring along a guide. I met up with Joan Kim, a Korean-American content creator who moved to Seoul back in 2014 and has made a name for herself sharing snippets of her life in her new city, for a tour.
In the video above, Kim and I walk the street of Myeong-Dong, one of Seoul's buzziest shopping districts, exploring what the area has to offer by way of jewelry, food, and of course, K-beauty. Check it out, above.
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