The worldwide success of Oscar-winning Parasite, along with the lockdown that followed, sparked interest in Korean films, shows, music, culture and language in India.
We love their honeyed soap operas and their sweet romances, their thrillers and their intense cinema, their music and more and more, even their food. The ‘K’ way of life is dominated by middle and upper class India, a ‘we love everything about South Korea’ movement led primarily by its small screen entertainment industry which has found the most unlikely devotees here. .
There is even a word for this South Korean cultural phenomenon: hallyu.
How did the Korean wave come about?
- In February 2020, Parasite Director Bong Joon-ho urged viewers to overcome “the one-inch-high subtitle barrier” in his Oscar acceptance speech.
- Less than two years later, almost as if India was listening to it, the hallyu wave swept through the country with shows such as Crash landing on you and Vincenzo, the music of the boy band BTS, and also movies.
(Also read on Firstpost – Rise of K-Pop in India: Analyzing why Korean pop music jumped in India during coronavirus pandemic)
The confinement effect
- The OTT boom caused by the pandemic brought with it hallyu 2.0 when many Indian watchers went beyond their basic regimen of American, Nordic and Indian broadcasts to discover K-dramas, a world far removed from the Hindi ‘K’ dramas of not so long ago.
- Viewing of K-dramas on Netflix in India increased by more than 370% in 2020 compared to 2019, a spokesperson for the OTT platform said.
The rise of K-Dramas
- From the cerebral advocate in search of quality entertainment to the elderly participant of soap operas, the shows have found plenty of fans.
- A look at Netflix’s Top 10 category shows Korean shows’ forays into India, along with Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-soo Squid game and Kim Seon-ho and Shin Min-a-starrer romantic drama Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is always on the list.
- Squid game, a Hunger games-As a survival show inspired by Korean children’s games, is fast becoming the biggest show in Netflix history, said Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix this week.
- Since starting working with Korean filmmakers and talent in 2016, the streamer has presented more than 80 original Korean shows and movies to its members around the world, and added K content in 30 languages, the streamer said. spokesperson.
- Kingdom Season 2, it’s good not to be good, and Crash landing on you are among the series to have been regularly featured in the Top 10 on Netflix in India.
- Over 22 million homes tuned to the horror TV series Sweet home.
- This is why Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin from the super-popular Crash Landing on you, a sweet, uneven romance between a North Korean officer and a South Korean heiress, and actors Song Joong-ki, Park Bo-gum, have become big stars in India alongside others like Song Hye-kyo and Bae Suzy.
- K-drama fans are also addicted to Rakuten Viki, a streaming service that has over 15 million users worldwide and offers popular shows such as Real beauty and Yumi’s cells.
- “It has been an exciting time for us, especially as Rakuten Viki is home to the largest collection of K-drama on any streaming platform,” said Sarah Kim, Senior Vice President of Content Business & Regional GM (Asia) , said Press Trust of India in a report.
- “We find that people are hungry for Asian content, especially K-dramas, for its unique storytelling and twists, and because it offers a different production quality than American and Western content,” he said. she declared.
Korean language popularity spike
- The love for all things South Korean is such that many fans overcame the “subtitle barrier” and included Korean words such as “midday and oppa“(older sister and brother),”namja-chingoo” (boyfriend), “yoja-chingoo“(girlfriend), and”sarang-hae“(I love you), and many other words and expressions from their daily vocabulary.
- Globally, too, the language is making waves with the Oxford English Dictionary which recently added 26 Korean words including K-drama, hallyu and kimbap to the dictionary.
- “We are all riding the crest of the Korean wave,” the BBC said, citing the Oxford English Dictionary in a statement.
- Closer to home, the Korean Cultural Center India has started three-month online Korean courses, and 1,200 places fill up within two to three minutes of opening for registration, said KCCI director Hwang. Il-yong.
- “Creating unique stories out of normal, familiar life stories can be the power of K-dramas, and it can be one of the main reasons K content is gaining in popularity worldwide. The stories of normal and ordinary people can be universally accepted without resistance or barriers, ”Hwang said.
- To introduce Indians to the world of K-pop, KCCI is also organizing a K-pop competition in India as well as a K-pop academy.
- To meet the growing demand, Jawaharlal Nehru University is also organizing a Korean teacher training course as well as a regular subject in collaboration with KCCI.
Impact of the Korean wave on India
- According to Young-Geul Choi, director of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) in New Delhi, the popularity of K content exploded during the pandemic, but the first K wave emerged in the northeast in 2000 when teenagers became fascinated. by Korean way of life.
- “India is now one of the top countries in terms of the number of K-Pop or K-drama content streaming and viewing. We often receive inquiries from consumers on our social media sites asking how to visit the sites. filming K-drama or K-pop exhibition spaces or where to buy official merchandise, ”he said.
- Along with entertainment comes culture, lifestyle and fashion influence, which hallyu fans now want to embrace in their lives, Choi said.
Priyamani is a fan too!
- The family man Star Priyamani remembers how she went from English, Turkish and Belgian series to Korean series.
- She stumbled upon Habaek’s bride towards the end of last year.
- She found the mystery and fantasy element “cute”, but it was the hit series Descendants of the Sun, starring Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo, which sparked her “love affair” with K-dramas.
- “I’m a huge fan of Song Joong-ki. I don’t have his posters and things like that on my wall but I just admire him. I immediately fell in love with him and the character he played. After Descendants of the Sun, I just kept watching and watching a lot of shows. Touchwood, my love is still going strong.
- What I have found is that these shows are very relevant. You can identify with the culture and tradition as they are also very family oriented like us (Indians).
- You can connect to these stories even if it is a fantasy or a romance. The acting is also extremely real. “
- Priyamani believes K-drama fans already have cities like Seoul, Busan or Daegu on their travel list.
A training manager in Guntur is also carried away!
- Many people were already watching these dramas even before the pandemic, added Divya Jaladi, 37, training manager at Guntur.
- “The craze has been around for a long time now, but the pandemic has definitely given it a boost. People were bored. There wasn’t a lot of content on the TV channels. K-Dramas are a bit different. There’s a kind of guilty pleasure to them. “
- Ambitious storylines like a rich man meets a poor woman or storylines set in a fantasy world also help. “You yourself sometimes wish something like that to happen to me. It’s very fantastic and usually doesn’t happen (in real life). Also, you don’t often see very beautiful people on screen. . “
(With contributions from Press Trust of India)