Design and make yourself into a K-Pop idol

Transform yourself into a K-Pop idol! Decide who is in your group, design your outfits and have a go at adding some sparkle to your clothes with a soft circuit. Then plan your dance moves and design a poster to tell the world who you are!

K-Pop is short for Korean popular music. It comes from South Korea, in East Asia.

Since the 1990s there have been lots of exciting things happening in fashion, film, technology and pop music in South Korea. All of this activity is often called Hallyu or K-Wave.

Imagine yourself as a pop star

Imagine that you are a pop star or are in a group. Perhaps some of your friends are also in your group – or you could make up some imaginary groupmates.

Your group isn't just any group – it's a K-Pop group! Decide what your group will be called.

Blackpink. PUBG MOBILE:絕地求生M, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

K-Pop is not just about music. Fashion and dance routines are also an important part of K-Pop. If you are not familiar with K-Pop, you may need to do some research for your group. What sort of clothes do K-Pop bands wear? What is their hair like? Do you like their sound? What are their dance moves?

What is K-Pop style?

There are lots of inspirations behind K-Pop outfits, from sportswear and streetwear to other music styles such as hip-hop and gothic style.

(Left to Right:) She Rockers (London Rap/Dance Crew) Shepherd's Bush Green, London, photograph by Normski, 1988, Shepherd's Bush, London, printed 2011. Museum no. E.112-2012. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Dress, Jennifer Taylor,1984 – 85, Britain, tie-dyed and hand-printed or painted cotton. Museum no. T.43-1994. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

K-Pop groups don't always have one look but often change their style for each new record they make. Sometimes groups wear bright or pastel colours such as pinks and yellows, with hair to match! Sometimes they wear lots of black and red and are a bit more punk-y looking.

What is the inspiration?

K-Pop style is also inspired by Korean fashion.

'Modern Girl' hanbok ensemble, Kim Young Jin, 2009 collection, South Korea. Museum no. FE.17-2015. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Some of the inspiration behind Korean fashion design may be surprising. Although the K-Wave is all about innovation and fresh new ideas, South Korean fashion designers often look to traditional shapes, techniques and fabrics for inspiration.

The patchwork technique that fashion designer Chunghie Lee has used to make these trousers is a traditional Korean textile technique called jogakbo. And the shape of the trousers is inspired by the baggy trousers traditionally worn in Korea.

Silk gauze patchwork trousers designed by Chunghie Lee, 1992, Korea. Museum no. FE.281:2-1995. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Design your K-Popstar outfits

Have a go at designing outfits for you and your band to wear. Be inspired by fashions and fabrics from South Korea, or browse the rock and pop costumes in the V&A collection for ideas.

(Left to Right:) Boots, Lee Young Hee, 1992, Korea. Museum no. FE.542:10,11-1992. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Jacket worn by Barry Watts, of Adam Ant's band, for the 1984 tour. Museum no. S.1502:1 to 3-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Draw your outfit designs. You could design a few different looks for your different performances. As well as thinking about your clothes, think about what your hair will look like and the shoes you will wear.

(Left to Right:) Design for 'Celsius', by Christian Brogi, Autumn/Winter 1997 – 98. Museum no. E.248-1997. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Drawing for Nike San Francisco Women's Marathon campaign, by Daisy de Villeneuve, 2009, Britain. Museum no. E.379-2012. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Make it sparkle

Technology is also an important part of K-Wave. Have you played any Korean computer games?

Have a go at adding some hi-tech sparkle to your look with wearable technology. Create a soft circuit patch with LED lights and add it to a sweatshirt or jacket.

Usually, electronic circuits are connected with wires, but you can use conductive thread to stitch the LED onto fabric. You can buy simple kits with all the components you need.

Visit Kitronok with an adult for instructions and more ideas.

SparkFun Electronics
SparkFun Electronics. Licence CC by 2.0 Attribution

Plan your moves!

Dance routines are essential for a K-Pop group. The moves are carefully worked out and practiced long and hard to make sure that everyone in the group is step-perfect for their performance.

PSY performing 'Gangnam Style'
PSY performing 'Gangnam Style', 2012, / Korean Culture and Information Service. CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Plan a simple dance routine for your K-Pop group. It could include side-steps, back-and-forward mini-marches, spins, jumps, knee-knocks and of course, lots of arm movements!

(Left to Right:) 'Ragga Bogle', photograph by Jennie Baptiste, 1993, England. Museum no. E.972-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; 'Ragga Crouching', photograph by Jennie Baptiste, 1993, England. Museum no. E.973-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Design and make a poster

Now that you have a group, a group name, a look and some moves, you just need to tell the world who you are!

Design and make a poster to promote your imaginary group. It could include photographs or drawings of you and your bandmates, pictures of other cool things that you like and of course your group name.

(Left to Right:) Poster advertising a recording 'Wild Youth' by the music group Generation X. Museum no. S.4643-1995. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Poster advertising a Grace Jones single entitled 'I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)', Richard Bernstein, about 1987, Britain. Museum no. E.163-1987. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Pin your poster to your bedroom wall to remind you of your sparkling K-Pop career!

Feeling inspired? Visit Hallyu! The Korean Wave with the whole family. Free for under 12s, open until 25 June 2023.

Header image: ITZY K-Pop debut, 2019. Kinocine, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons