K-Culture: How Many Nation's Living Treasures Do You Know?

by Michelle Li

Believe it or not, it hasn’t been that long since Korea’s culture, arts and entertainment became a global phenomenon. Just like me, many of you would have come to familiarise yourself with Korean culture through K-pop or K-dramas. So when a Korean star becomes famous internationally, K-netizens deem them a ‘living national treasure’ giving them the ‘Nation’s ___’ as a nickname. If you’re even a little bit familiar with Korea’s entertainment industry, you would have heard these names before. So let’s see how many you know!

Nation’s Girl Group

SM Entertainment 

Of course, it has to be given to Girl’s Generation, the ultimate K-pop girl group! I remember first hearing Girl’s Generation songs, “Gee” back in intermediate, before I even knew what K-pop was. They were able to reach international fame even before a lot of us knew about Korean media. No wonder they’re given the nickname and deemed ‘Nation’s Girl Group’ by K-netizens. Though, they aren’t actively promoting as a group right now, they're success and talents is an inspiration to many k-pop idols debuting now 🫶

Nation’s Younger Siblings

Edam Entertainment

Having grown up on many of K-netizens' TVs, they've created a “Nation’s Younger Siblings” title. The Nation’s Younger Sister goes to the one and only, IU! Can you believe she debuted as a singer when she was just 15 years old? It’s been more than a decade since she debuted but she has continued to captivate us with her singing and now acting talents. 

There’s a few that hold the “Nation’s Younger Brother” title - Yoo Seung-ho and Yeo Jin-goo. These male actors debuted when they were in their teens but their youthful aura and charisma have stayed with them. Many K-netizens who watched them grow up can’t help but look at them with such pride!

Nation’s MC


I’m sure you can all guess who the ‘Nation’s MC’ is… no other than Yoo Jae Suk! There’s not one time where he has failed to have me laugh on end in whatever variety show he’s on, be it in Running Man or Infinite Challenge, and now his own Youtube channel. Korean netizens can all agree that his polite and well-mannered personality makes anyone fall in love with him! 

Nation’s First Love

Korea Joongang Daily 

This title, of course, belongs to Suzy! She debuted as the maknae of JYP’s girl group, Miss A but made a name for herself as an actress, first achieving success in Dream High. She also starred in Architecture 101, which became that year’s top 10 most watched films in Korea! She was the top of the top, even earning the title, “CF Queen” for her countless endorsement deals. She’s continually been active, having recently started in Doona!, which you can read about in this TMI article here. During the promotions, she even went viral for her “flirting smile” that other K-pop idols started replicating it 😍

Living National Treasures

Big Hit Entertainment

The “Living National Treasures are given to those that have held record-breaking achievements 🏆 First up, 7 member-boy group, BTS have made a name for themselves. Just to name a few of their achievements - first K-pop group to have Grammy nominations, won not one but THREE awards at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards, visited the White House and the reason why 800,000 foreigners visit Korea every year 😮


Film director Bong Joon-ho made history with Parasite. The film became the highest-grossing South Korean film in history. Not only that, Parasite swept up a total of 4 Oscars and one reason why the Korean entertainment industry started to get so much international attention 👏🏻👏🏻  

If we’re talking about sports here, Korean footballer Son Heung-min got the title when he scored no less than four goals within 26 minutes, setting a new record for Asian players alone. Kim Yuna also is known as a "living national treasure' as she became Korea's first-ever gold medalist in figure skating and even though she is no longer active, she is still an inspiration to many!

Though, there are many others’ that fall under the same category with new faces debuting every year, these are the most well-known and the firsts to hold their title. These national titles are sure a way for Korea to celebrate their success if I say so myself!

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