Voices Pushpesh Pant Rajat Chaudhuri Anuja Chandramouli Amar Bhushan Ravi Shankar Mata Amritanandamayi MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI February 7 2021 SUNDAY PAGES 12 The K Wave From Korean OTT serials to K-beauty, from K-language schools to K-pop, from K-food to K-diplomacy, India’s love affair with South Korea has gone mainstream. Hallyu 2.0 is unstoppable as a cultural force among youth and the old alike. By Smitha Verma Drama For rom-com, teen watch Boys Over Flowers, romance is incomplete without Crash Landing on You, Signal for lovers of thriller shows, it’s suspense with Healer, for fantasy genre, it’s Goblin and a complete drama with My Mister, fall in love with ghosts from Tale of Arang, and for an occult thriller, watch Possessed W hat is common between a South Korean star, alumnae of the premier Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) and Mumbai dabbawalas? Surprise, surprise! When actress Son Ye-jin rang in her birthday on January 11, a group of former IIM students was busy raising funds for donations to celebrate the occasion. The star may not, yet, know about ‘The Drama Kweens’, a K-drama fan group started in August with around 100-odd alumnae of IIMs, but that has not stopped them from going gaga over her. “Charity is close to Son Ye-jin and co-star Hyun Bin’s heart. We are crazy about BinJin (the couple’s combo nickname) now that they are officially dating. So we wanted to do something to show our love for them. We raised 1 million won (`67,000) on that day and donated it to the Mumbai Dabbawala Association,” says Arti Gupta, a 44-year-old member from Mumbai. Beauty Mask sheets and serums are important. Choose between a minimum of six and maximum of 10 steps. Start with double-cleansing followed by exfoliation, and toning. Follow it up with an essence or serum, an eye-cream, lip balm, face moisturiser and a night mask sheet. BinJin are the lead pair of the popular Netflix original Crash Landing on You, a Korean OTT drama that premiered last year in India and has topped the charts since then. Initially , the IIM ladies wanted to put up posters of the couple on a Mumbai local train. “But the cost was high and it seemed unnecessary That’s when . we thought of dabbawalas, many of whom have been jobless since the outbreak of Covid-19,” says Gupta, co-founder of StyleNook, a Mumbai-based fashion tech personal styling firm. ‘The Drama Kweens’ may be slaying it in corporate boardrooms but when it comes to K-drama they are merely “starry-eyed fans”. While Gupta has a carefully curated list of K-dramas to watch in the coming months, Akansha Rana is following her favourite K-pop band BTS “almost like an obsession”. Like any ardent BTS stan (stalking fan), she identifies herself as ARMY—the fandom term for Adorable Representative MC (Master of Ceremonies) for Youth. “Their music is uplifting and lyrics are meaningful. They create video content around their tours and talk openly about their struggles. All of it is so relatable,” says Rana, a 22-year-old communications professional from Delhi. Her wardrobe is filled with oversized hoodies with BTS logo, loose pants and skirts— Music It started with Seo Taiji’s ‘I Know’, moved to Super Junior, briefly took a pause with PSY and Glee and finally found its groove with BTS, Blackpink and EXO fashion trends that find her closer to Seoul than Delhi. “It was during the lockdown, in April, that I started following them religiously The band . helped me tide through the difficult months, sometimes even depression,” confesses Rana, who has a monthly Korean night-out with a friend. The two cook Korean dishes, dress up like their favourite K-pop stars and watch reruns of their favourite K-drama all night. “I have shortlisted a few universities and postgraduate programmes in Korea. I aspire to settle down in Seoul,” Rana says. A K-Wave is sweeping Urban India from films to serials, music to art, beauty to language. Gupta and Rana, new Hallyu (the Chinese term for Korean wave) converts, encompass a growing tribe of fans in the country who are staunch advocates of the expanding subculture. What started as a fascination for pirated DVDs of Korean shows way back in early 2000 in the Northeast has now spread all across. Hallyu has finally hit home in its second avatar. Hallyu 2.0 began around 2007 with South Korea taking advantage of digital technology internet , penetration and social media. The brewing sub-culture has cut across generations, gender and region. The pandemic year further cemented Hallyu’s position in India. The statistics stand testimony to the deep inroads paved by Hallyu 2.0. Music streaming giant Spotify’s 2020 data puts BTS as the fourth most streamed boy band in India. Podcasts related to Korean culture on Spotify topped in India last year. Indian streaming platforms such as MX Player and ZEE5 have started Hindi-dubbed versions of popular shows due to popular demand. Language learning platform Duolingo reported a 256 percent increase in Korean learners in India between March and November 2020. Makeup aggregator Nykaa has a dedicated K-beauty section. Korikart, India-based online marketplace for Korean products, witnessed 300 percent surge in sales between March and December 2020. The huge demand has led Korikart to sign up with offline stores in Darjeeling, Delhi, Nagaland, Manipur, Chennai and Bengaluru. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has included Korean as one of the foreign languages to be taught in schools from the next academic year. “The Covid-19 pandemic opened up more platforms for cultural contents. During this time higher quality content got more appreciation,” says Hwang Il-yong, director of Korean Cultural Centre (KCC) India, Delhi. The latest K-craze in town has come a full circle. “Hallyu has impacted our youth in a big way They . want to learn the language, eat and dress like Koreans, buy K cosmetics, games, automobiles, and even smartphones,” says Rubal Kanozia, Assistant Professor, Central University of Punjab. Kanozia and research scholar Garima Ganghariya have put together a paper on the impact of Hallyu in India and other western nations. “The fascination started with Korean dramas as there is a lack of originality and variety in our mainstream entertainment industry ,” he adds. The K-dramas are high on politics, romance and crime. Unlike the gritty new Indian serials like Mirzapur and Sacred Games, K-series don’t have verbal abuse, blatant violence and loud scenes, which makes them viewer-friendly to the semi-conservative Indian audience. Serials such as Chief of Staff starring the wildly popular Lee Jung-jae, Shin Min-a and Lee Elijah sanitise political skullduggery and murder to make the episodes realistic yet inoffensive dissimilar to Tandav and Gangs of Wasseypur. Nor does Korean TV hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. Origins of Crossover New-age Hallyu fans may like to believe that the trend started in India when Korean musician PSY’s Billboard-topping Turn to page 2 Food Ramyen, kimchi, miso, gochujang and gochugaru are easy to order and available on several food platforms. Standalone Korean cafes and fine-dining options are available in all cities. Language Besides institutes, there are several free apps and online learning platforms like Duolingo, Learn Korean, Korean Letter, to name a few “When we studied the most-listened-to music among older users across regions in February 2020, the top tracks for 55+ females in Telangana were K-pop band EXO’s songs. The love for K-pop also spilled over to the same group in West Bengal, where Blackpink’s track featured on top.” Vasundhara Mudgil, Head of Communications - India, Spotify
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