Korean Wave popularly called as “Hallyu” (한류) has gained massive popularity across the world in recent times and India is no different to it. A rapid boom in India can be witnessed in the recent years with rising popularity of K-Pop and K-Dramas among the youth and teenagers that is eventually leading to their interest in other aspects of Korean Culture. The pandemic seems to have also contributed for the shift of people towards consumption of Korean entertainment at large. It is now valid to say that most fans in India are thrilled by it and wish to at least witness everything they see on screen in real life. To sum it up, now every Korean wave fan wishes to visit Korea once in their lifetime. Taking this undeniable point into notice, Korea Tourism Organization and The Hindu presented an online event discussion on the topic “The Rising Korean Wave in India and how it will influence Post-Pandemic travel to South Korea.”
The Discussion recently took place on Thursday, 22nd April 2021 at 4:00 p.m and gathered a whopping 2 thousand people from all over India including our Hallyuism’s Team-members; Ms. Nikhat Parveen, Ms. Diya Jain, Ms. Nehal Tambe, Ms. Ritika Jain, Ms. Rupali Teresa Kujur, Ms. Aanchal Tekriwal, and Ms. Smiti Iyer. Following is an excerpt from their collective experience and take-away of the event that we believe would add value to your understanding of how Korean wave has impacted India and what it would mean for travelling to South Korea in a post-pandemic world. Read ahead to know about it.
In the event, a group of people were invited to share their word and experience about the Korean Wave. The panellists for the discussion were: Playback singer Ms. Chinmayi Sripada; fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle content creator Ms. Scherezade Shroff; chef and co-founder of A Sirius Hospitality Mr. Vikramjit Roy; Director of the Korea Tourism Organization (India) Mr. Young Geul-choi, Marketing Manager of the Korea Tourism Organisation (India) Mr. Sandeep Dutta and the Director of the InKo Centre Ms. Rathi Jafer. It was an engaging discussion based on the audience’s personal experience, be it related to Korean Food, K-Dramas, K-Pop, K-Beauty and Korean language.
The Virtual Event started with the “Imagine Your Korea” campaign commercial. “Imagine Your Korea” is Korea Tourism Organization‘s latest Tourism brand campaign to attract 20 million tourists and to advance Korea as a global tourist destination. In the opening address, Director Young Geul-choi talked about the immense love of people for Korea. South Korea has been gaining immense popularity among Indian expatriates. He mentioned some world renowned and large conglomerates such as LG, Hyundai, Kia Motors and Samsung, which are based in South Korea, and have become the household names in India today.
Origin of Hallyu Wave in India
Ms. Rathi Jafer, the Director of the InKo Centre, talks about “Hallyu” or The Korean wave highlighting how it was spread in India. She moderated the event and explained the history of Korean wave in India. Korean content first entered during 1997-98, when a politically led ban was imposed on Hindi television programmes in North-East Indian states and doors were opened up for various channels like Arirang TV that would broadcast Korean language content such as K-dramas. Not losing its initial momentum even after 20 years down the line, we observe programs being significantly aired in English, Manipuri and Korean in these regions. From architecture and languages to fashion and beauty products, the culture became rooted in the North East of India long before it even reached to other parts of the country.
Fast forward to 2012, K-pop artist PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ took the world by storm, becoming the most ‘liked’ music video and the first video to exceed 1 billion views on YouTube. As K-Pop culture steadily spread among the masses, the world was once again taken by storm when BTS hit the charts in 2017-18. In an online BTS concert conducted on 17th April 2021, viewership touched record-holding 2.74 millions in the first few minutes of airing.
Impact of Korean Wave in India
Ms. Jafer also talks about the various fan-club groups spread across the country in every region and how they have become the primary proponents of the Hallyu wave. In order to celebrate Visual and Performing arts, promote Korean culture in India and to address the commonalities between the two cultures, Korean Cultural Centre India was set up in 2006 in New Delhi. The organisation has since then worked hard to set up an ecosystem for respecting differences and celebrating similarities between the two nations. She also discusses the role of OTT platforms taking on Korean content, which especially blew up during the pandemic, recording a 370% increase in viewership making India the 6th country worldwide to enjoy and consume K-content. The event emphasises on the phenomenon of bringing the popular culture to be the strongest proponent of Korean culture and South Korea as a nation.
Ms. Chinmayi Sripada, a singer and voice actor, who attained fame with the beautiful song, ‘Oru Deivam Thantha Poove’ from the award winning movie, ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ is also a famous social media personality for K-beauty. She started experimenting with Korean cosmetics and skin care products first on self before promoting to others. Ms. Sripada introduced her store, ‘Isle of Skin’ , which retails Korean products and is personally curated by her as well.
She emphasises that the basis of Asian Beauty has always been great skin first and then followed by makeup. It had been truly intriguing to observe that many individuals used herbal based products like ginseng cream, sheet masks etc. not only as a method of skin care but also how it allows one to fight anxiety, relax and maintain mental health. After 1.5 years of hard work, Ms Chinmayi Sripada is now registered to legally import products, making it work alongside the rules and regulations of each government. It is interesting to note that every product remains in touch with its natural roots and herbal medicines which coincides with the Indian Ayurvedic medicine system as well. It is observed to be a successful amalgamation of traditional Indian herbal ingredients and Korean practices with science and fantastic formulation which is gentle on the skin.
Mr. Vikramjit Roy, co-founder of Hello Panda which is a gourmet Pan-Asian delivery service, is a celebrated chef with over 18 years of experience with appreciation and understanding of Asian cuisines. Mr. Roy talks about some of the very basic but deep rooted techniques of Korean as well as Indian cuisines that is fermentation and seasonality, and subsequently emphasises on the need to understand the culture before understanding its food. Talking about fermentation, he marvels at the similarities between Indian and Korean cuisines, taking the instance of ‘Achaar’, a widely popular item of any Indian meal which is a kind of fermentation. In ancient times it used to be preserved in clay jars before being replaced by glass which is startlingly similar to how any kind of Miso or Gochujang, till date, is fermented in clay. Moving on to seasonality, Mr. Roy explains a variant of Kimchi, the white Kimchi, which is a non-spicy, fresh and flavourful salad made with cabbage or any seasonal vegetable available and a broth.
Ms. Scherezade Shroff is a fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle content creator. She is one of the early YouTube personalities in India with over 300,000 subscribers and 50 Million views and, since the pandemic, an avid K-drama fan as well. Recently she has set up on social media platforms, a K-drama club with over 7500 followers. She describes how the K-drama world is a refreshing alternative to tune into especially during the pandemic situation. She also realised several intriguing connections between Indian and Korean cultures in the most simple practices; like taking off shoes at the door of the house and living with parents even as an adult etc. This adds on to the connection one may feel to Korean dramas.
Post-Pandemic Travel to South Korea
This exposure to the different aspects of Korea like fashion, food and lifestyle makes one want to visit the country and experience it themselves. It is also essential to note how the event subtly addresses important topics like mental health issues, work-place harassment etc.
Mr. Sandeep Dutta, a travel industry professional with 14+ years of diversified experience and now working with KTO, talks about the increasing interest in travels to Korea. Mr. Dutta talks about the various tour routes and tourist attractions which relate to famous K-Pop and K-drama sites. The shooting site of a famous drama, ‘Descendants of the Sun’, which has a military theme has been maintained and preserved as a tourist site due to its popularity. Other destinations include Jeju Island which is well-known for recreating famous romantic shots seen in various shows.
He further discusses with regards to post-COVID travel and how Korea has successfully handled the situation without the need for a single lockdown. Currently, the mass vaccination drive is on full throttle aiming to achieve complete immunity of the country by the end of September 2021. They are also launching a vaccine passport which will hopefully open South Korea for vaccinated tourists without a quarantine period by the end of 2021. Director Young Geul-choi started his term in India in November 2019 and has been responsible for all the innovations KTO has brought in during the pandemic travel lockdown to keep people engaged and the interested in South Korea. Under his leadership, KTO is focusing on the Digital and Influencer marketing and laying the foundations for a Post Pandemic travel Boom in 2022.
Take-away from the Event
The discussion and the event really were worth appreciating with the panelists who talked about their experience from different aspects of Korean Wave. A Q&A session was held after the discussion and a lot of curious people popped up questions like “Is Korea is safe to travel?” “Will there be any tours planned by KTO?” etc. The questions were answered by the panelists depending on their expertise respectively.
After the mini Q&A , a promised “Fastest Finger First” type of quiz round was held with 5 basic questions based on Korean Wave like K-beauty, K-Pop, K-food etc. At the end, 5 different winners were chosen and gifted Korean goodies hampers.
The event ended with a thank you note by the director of Korea Toursim Organization, India Mr. Young Geul-choi thanking all the panelists and participants for joining in and loving Korea. The discussion ended with how everyone wishes for the pandemic to end and Korean wave will continue to grow with the very hope that someday each of its enthusiasts gets to touch their feet and witness a real like experience of this dreamland.
What are your post-Covid plans to travel South Korea? Tell us in the comments!