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Newtro Boom in Korea 2020: Trends of New + Retro

Newtro Boom in Korea 2020: Trends of New + Retro

What is Newtro?

Newtro is the combination of the words New and Retro. It means the reminiscence of the style in the past, but infused with a modern twist. This is the current Korean trend right now in 2020 and you can see it being manifested in different ways.

How did the Newtro trend start in Korea?


Reply 1988 Image credit: @mediauskr

Before newtro, there was retro. Retro means the bringing back of the olden styles that might date backwards by several decades. When referring to retro trend, it usually means a period where people started to bring back certain fashion style or items of the past. There is not much changes to its original design of the item. Retro has always been present in Korea. The most prominent one might be the Reply series of the Korean drama – Reply 1988, Reply 1994 and Reply 1997.  

Reply 1988 brought back Korean retro glasses

Reply1988 newtro glasses

Reply1988 Newtro Glasses. Image Credit : Reply 1988 drama

This set of retro themed Kdrama has its content revolved around the events happening in Korea in the year 1988, 1994 and 1997 respectively. To make it more realistic, the fashion style, housing  and decoration all replicate the ones in the past. Out of the three dramas (which content are not related), Reply 1988 which starred Girl’s Day Hyeri and Park Bo-gum was the most popular. Its popularity even reached many other countries including China and Southeast Asia, as people related to the events of that time period. The popularity of the retro Korean drama brought back the retro trend of big frame glasses, wide-legged pants and varsity jackets. It brought the older trend back to life just as it was.

Go retro at Korea Gwangjang Traditional Market

market korea styleupk

Gwangjang traditional market. Image credit: visitseoul

Also, you can find many traditional Korean items in their traditional markets. There might be many traditional markets in Korea, but the most popular and most crowded one would certainly by the Gwangjang Traditional Market. It is located near the Gyeongbokgung Palace by a short subway ride too.

If you are craving for the authentic Korean taste, this is the place to be. The traditional Gwangjang Market is famous for its fresh sea and street food. The second floor has a comprehensive collection of 70s fashion too. You will also see some valuables from the olden days. Over here, you will get a glimpse into how locals used to shop in the olden days, while trying out lots of Korean streetfood! One of the must-try is the Doughnut Twist (꽈배기). You will see a line near the entrance of the market. The hot and freshly made doughnut will make for a good dessert after a tour in the market!

Newtro boom in 2020

In recent years, many kpop idols have become the inspiration behind newtro music genre, fashion outfit and lifestyle.

Newtro Music Genres and Songs: A hit in 2019 - 2020

bts group dynamite music styleupk

Bts "Dynamite" newtro outfits. Image credit : viewofhearts

The 2020 BTS “Dynamite” single didn’t only top the charts, it spread the love with the liveliness of the 70s disco music and their colorful vintage outfits.

The Bangtan Boys also don on retro outfit for their BTS Seasons Greetings 2021. The background of the pictures are specially edited for the vintage vibe. Some fans even trended the hashtag #BTSGoesRetro on social media.

Besides BTS, JYP Entertainment also released several disco tracks this year! The first one was a duet “When We Disco” by JYP himself and Sunmi. The beats and accompany music of the song brought back memories of the disco haydays. In particular, the retro outfit and hairstyle made for an interesting concept too!

Twice also wear checkered outfits for their “I Can’t Stop It” comeback. Unlike the usual cute and lovely music style, this song began with a disco music prelude. There were many dance moves in this song that were inspired from disco moves too!

Lastly, there is also the famous SSAK3 group, formed by Yoo Jae-suk, Lee Hyori and Rain, using the stage names U-Doragon, Linda. G and B. Ryong, respectively. This unique group brought back the retro vibe with their hit songs like “Beach Again” and “In the Summer”.

Mr Sunshine Newtro Fashion

Mr Sunshine Fashion

Mr Sunshine newtro fashion. Image credit: Mr Sunshine drama

After the period kdrama Mr. Sunshine was released in 2018, it gave rise to the popularity of the European inspired kyungsung fashion style! This Korean retro fashion style was worn in Korea around the 1930s.

mr sunshine rental

Wearing retro outfits in Sunshine Land. Image credit: 매일경제korea

Besides wearing this retro fashion and visiting Sunshine Land which is the filming set of Mr. Sunshine, many kyungsung fashion rental shops also started sprouting up in Seoul. Not only can you rent hanboks, you can also rent these elegant retro outfits to wear the next time you tour Korea!

Newtro Neighborhoods in Seoul


Ikseon-dong, Gyeongyangsik 1920 restaurant. Image credit: voguekorea

One of the newtro neighborhood is Ikseon-dong. Although it was established in the 1920s, it has transformed into one of the hippest location in Seoul over the recent years. The village is filled with retro themed cafes, and also beautifully designed shops and restaurants.

The Gyeongyangsik 1920 restaurant is a Hanok styled hang-out spot and adult diner. It sports pink curtains and chairs, attracting many young females to the place.

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