Nikhat Parveen, Khushi Vaid (New Delhi), and Jasmine Khan, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Please introduce yourself to our Indian audience and what you do?
I am working in Korea to understand and introduce the cultures of India and Korea by producing content that contains the culture, education, and lifestyle of India and Korea. As Korea and India are getting closer to the world, I am showing the various cultures of India to Korean people by hosting or participating in Indian cultural events through the Indian Cultural Center. Above all, it is almost the first time for Koreans to introduce Indian culture in various Indian clothes, such as various sarees and Kurti and Salwar Kameez and lehenga to Korean attractions such as “Gangnam” of the song called “Gangnam Style” and “Myeong-dong” which is the most popular for both Koreans and foreigners. In addition, I am taking the lead in exchanges between the two countries by introducing Korean culture, studying in Korea, and Korean lifestyle to Indian friends who are interested in Korean culture and studying abroad.
How did the journey of Jenna from Korea start?
Not long ago, India and Indian culture in Korea were not well known to Koreans. I also watched some Indian movies, but I didn’t have a chance to learn about Indian culture easily in Korea. However, my family has been interested in the history and culture of various countries around the world in the past and has been studying or watching a lot of content related to it. In particular, my uncle has traveled to India for a little long time and was very interested in India, so he often explained the Indian country itself, Indian culture, and the film industry. Also, my uncle works in a film production company, so he’s preparing a movie called Miracle in cell No.7 for a remake in India. In addition, through a lot of Indian movies recommended by my uncle, I gradually started to learn about Indian culture and the country of India, and I became interested in it. And I felt a unique charm and some similarities with Korea-India, which brought me to where I am today. So this time, I want to better introduce Indian culture to Korea by visiting each city in India.
As your mission is to provide education and cultural exchange for the Indian youth. How did you discover about Indian culture? And what inspired you to cover different aspects of Indian culture through your platform?
As I said earlier, my family was very interested in world history and culture, and in particular, we often talked about Indian history. However, there was a lot of limited information and aspects of India that were known to Korea even if India is a country of diversity, and there were many aspects that were not known to Korean people. Also, Korea still has more information about India, so when I wear Indian saree clothes and walk on the streets, their curiosity about India grew a little more immediate and interesting. That is why, as a Korean, I wanted to learn and experience the questions and curiosities of India and its culture through my platform. There’s nothing easier to know about the culture of that country than experiencing and showing it in person. ☺
What do you like the most about Indian culture or tradition?
India also has developed, westernized, and transformed in many areas, but still maintains its traditions in many ways, including clothing, food, and lifestyle! Even in Korea, there is traditional clothing called Hanbok, but these days, it is very rare for people to wear it on holidays or special days. However, in India, you can still easily see people in various styles of traditional clothes on the street. Especially on special days, everyone wears traditional clothes, dances, or holds traditional ceremonies and events. I think Indian costumes are the best in Indian culture. And it can be said that traditional outfits are the power to show culture intensely in the shortest time. So, I hope that my Indian friends will also help me a lot in promoting Indian traditional clothes in Korea and abroad.
And next, the family community culture in India still gives a lot of warmth. I still like the culture of relying on each other, loving, sharing and helping each other rather than living individually. A lot of this kind of warm family culture has disappeared in Korea nowadays, but India still has this culture where families take care of each other and meet often. Every time I see something like this, I am moved. ☺
You are exploring various essence of the Indian culture everyday. What motivates you to keep exploring something new?
The development of the Internet has made it relatively easy to access various information about India and Indian culture. However, the country of India has a multicultural culture that can be defined in one word, it is not a simple country, but it has the mysticism of the coexistence of various cultures, people, and the world. Perhaps the culture and various aspects of India introduced to Korea are only a small part of the country of India. Therefore, as a Korean, there are still some things that are unfamiliar or strange to Indian culture from the perspective of a Korean, and there are many familiar and similar cultures as well. I am curious about those parts. So, as a Korean representative, I would like to examine and illuminate the various essences of Indian culture one by one and promote India more than now. The fact that I want to remain a person who tries to explore the diverse nature of Indian culture from the perspective of Koreans is an important motivation for me to continue exploring the culture.
Every country has peculiar social customs. Did you pick on or adapt any cultural habit from India?
The first and most obvious reason is that wearing traditional Indian attire in hot weather is the coolest, prettiest, and most comfortable way. I used to think that plain T-shirts and shorts were the most comfortable and cool in hot weather. However, after trying Indian clothes on even in hot summer weather and staying in India, it is undoubtedly the best outfit to be active and move around. There seems to be no clothing made of cool material that blocks the sun and is easy to work with. Korea prefers a fairly simple and plain style in all aspects such as clothing, home decoration, and furniture. However, since I’ve been exploring Indian culture, personally this has become quite glamorous when it comes to choosing clothes and decorating. ☺
The second is that when you say “Yes”, you shake your head left and right instead of nodding up and down. When I first saw this gesture of Indians in Korea, it was very awkward. Because Indians are a unique culture that shakes left and right instead of nodding. But now I’m too used to that expression. Now, shaking your head from side to side rather than nodding has become a more natural and instantaneous gesture. Lol Similarly, the words “Thik Hai” or “Accha” automatically appear when you give me interesting information or say something, which is a big part of choosing and accepting Indian culture and using it.
Another small part is the culture that Indian street markets are still available for a bargain. In India, the price is often set by the seller, so the feature that the price can be adjusted through negotiation and discussion is very similar to the appearance of the traditional Korean market. In Korea, this kind of culture was easy to find in the past, but it has disappeared a lot these days. However, India also has such a culture, so it was relatively easy to accept and apply in real. With this similar culture, the culture of taking off shoes when going to someone’s house or space is very similar, so there is no need to adapt as a Korean. It is one of the cultures that can be easily accepted and applied immediately. ☺
It’s evident that you have a great fashion etiquettes of Indian wear. We love your style. What difference you found in terms of Indian wears and South Korean wears (traditional or modern) and what are some similarities you think is present in terms of clothing styles of these two countries?
One of the biggest differences is that in the case of the Hanbok, there are no exposed parts on the upper or lower body. Korean traditional clothing, Hanbok, can be worn in various thicknesses using materials depending on the weather of the four seasons in Korea. For example, in winter, a thick vest is worn over a Hanbok-top called Jeogori to give more warmth. But hot summer doesn’t mean the sleeves are short or exposed. One of the basic characteristics is that it is worn with a light, sun-blocking material that is well-ventilated, but neither the top of the jacket nor the skirt of the bottom is exposed. On the other hand, Indian sarees have relatively short blouses that expose the skin on the back or stomach. This is one of the biggest differences, and the Indian saree, unlike the Korean Hanbok, can be used in various draping methods with one cloth to create a variety of styles.
The next similarity is that the basic principle of both clothes is to wear them comfortably according to one’s body. In principle, the jeogori and skirt of Korean hanbok should be worn comfortably and generously according to the body type. The wide width of the skirt makes it easy for women to move. Because hanbok is not a tight-fitting outfit, women of any body type can wear it to fit their body type. Similarly, a saree wears a long cloth wrapped around the body to fit the body, so there is no need to be limited by size. Both outfits have a great similarity in that they are comfortable clothes that can be tailored and worn to fit your body.
Which Indian cuisine or food do you like the most? Is there anything yet you haven’t tried and want to try it on your visit to India this time? What is your favourite Korean food that you would like Indian people to try out as well?
India is a country of spices. The spices are so rich that there are so many different things. First of all, I would like to experience the basics of cooking with various spices. ☺ My favorite is the butter paneer masala or butter chicken curry with paratha. I like it even more because it is a food that can be enjoyed in Indian restaurants in Korea. However, it is difficult to eat traditional Indian thali in Korea. So, coming to India and eating a big thali is the most memorable and delicious. Of course, homemade food made by an Indian family is the best, but I would like to try more local thalis, which come in different regions, such as pappad, curd, buttermilk, masala, and roti.
Also, as a Korean my recommendation to Indian friends, I think my Indian friends will like vegetable pancakes, which are fried with various vegetables and flour, and potato pancakes made with mashed potatoes for Indians who like potatoes. In addition, white tofu stew made with white tofu, green onion, egg, soy sauce, and salt is boiled and recommend it to friends who are not yet familiar with Korean red pepper. I’ve also made Vada Pav in Korea before. Now that I’m in Mumbai, I really want to eat Vada Pav or Pav bhaji, one of Mumbai’s famous dishes. If you come to Mumbai, it is a dish you should never forget. 😆
What is or was the best piece of travel advice you’ve received in Korea regarding India?
It said that if you go to India, you have to get used to the sound of a car horn quickly. It also said that cows and dogs on the street should get used to it. I was prepared enough, but when I first came to India, unlike in Korea, the car horn sounded so much that I was a bit distracted. 😅 However, I have already seen many videos and received advice, so I got used to the sound of the horn sooner than I thought. I think the journey will be easier if you just get used to the sound of the horn. Because when you get used to the sound of the horn, you can focus more on conversations and tasks you have to do along the way. Hahaha Also, as an animal lover, I didn’t need to get used to the cows or several dogs I saw on the street, but I think there may be parts where it is difficult to adapt to other Koreans, including dogs, who are afraid of animals.
Indian people equally cherish Korea and its culture especially the youth, what piece of advice you would like to give Indians traveling to Korea?
Firstly, Korea is still unfamiliar with India and Indian culture, and there are many things that we do not know. Therefore, even if Koreans do not know much about India, I think it would be much more helpful and warmly welcomed if Indians could give a brief introduction to India. Also, there are a lot of people who are shy about talking to foreigners than we thought, so I think it will be a more enjoyable trip in Korea if you understand it, ask questions more actively, and ask for help from Koreans. Secondly, it would be more convenient for Indians to come to know more about Korean etiquette and the Korean language to Korea. Thirdly, in addition to Seoul, I recommend you travel to various places such as Busan, Gyeongju, and Jeju Island. Besides Seoul, there are many places where you can feel the Korean culture and emotions unique to Korea. In Korea, transportation is very developed nationwide, such as buses and trains, and it is very convenient to use, so if you travel outside of Seoul, which is a big city, you can reduce travel expenses a little more and have more experience. It is recommended that you travel to other regions of Korea as well.
If you get a chance to take any memoir from India to Korea, what would that be and why?
I would like to take with the passion of the Indian people and the warm heart that treats guests with sincerity. They are happy to serve you delicious food or help you when you need help. However, actually, I’ll be able to answer well at the end of this trip after I stay in India. I’m still feeling, learning, and experiencing so many things here. 😊
It’s already a few days since you are in India. Could you please elaborate on what all have you experienced so far? What has been the most memorable moment during your stay in New Delhi?
In New Delhi, India’s traditional and modern aspects coexist at the same time. I was able to see both sides of it at the same time. There were many more rickshaws along with various types of cars, and if you went further out, you could often see cows. The most impressive thing was that I was able to see the traditional architecture and design and old culture unique to India along with modern buildings and facilities such as many large shopping malls. Delhi itself was a city with a lot of charm in that respect. Also, in Korea, the distinction between roads and sidewalks is clear, so only cars and motorcycles can be seen on the road. But in India, you can see cars, rickshaws, motorcycles, bicycles, cows, dogs, and people all busily moving on the road together. This one captured image is also memorable, explaining India at once.
India is a very complex and colorful country. Just as colorful colors harmonize and show off their charms, so the diversity in spices, masala, and everything else blends together to reveal their own charm, which is tied together to describe the country of India. This is India’s greatest attraction. 😃
What are you looking forward to in the trip now? We heard you also plan to visit Mumbai. What all you are expecting from this trip 🙂 we would love to know.
Through this trip to India, I would like to experience various cultures and aspects of India that Koreans could not easily experience. I think it would be difficult to properly understand Indian culture if you simply visit major tourist spots. So, I want to know more about the lifestyle of the Indians, whether they are attending an Indian wedding or living, wearing, eating, and living. That’s why I try to be immersed in Indian culture as much as possible. I am trying to live with the way of eating with my hands, or chai that Indians enjoy. Through this trip to India, at least as a Korean, I want to understand India with a much broader knowledge and experience and think from their point of view. I also want to help the younger generation in India in various ways. I want to help students who are interested in Korean culture and study abroad to find and receive the information or education they need. This requires an understanding of Indian people and culture. I think that is the ultimate goal and one of the ways to make everyone happy together. For that reason, I want many of my Indian friends to know that you have a Korean Jenna. Especially in Mumbai, as one of the cultural and economic centers of Bollywood, is a place where you can experience films, music, dance, and food all at once. I want to know, feel and learn in detail what modern Indian culture looks like. And I want to meet and share many opinions with Indian experts in each field who are well aware of the current Indian culture, especially in Mumbai.
Any message you would like to give to your viewers in Hindi?
Namaste mein apki pyaari Jenna apse yeh kehna chahungi ki aap hamesha muskurate rahiye aur humarayah rishta hamesha barkara rakhe. Bhaiya, didi, uncle and aunty, my all Indian family, aap sabhi ko South Korea aur meri taraf se dher sara Pyaar.