Khushi Vaid, New Delhi
Meet Dasom Her, a ‘Korean made in India.’ She is the author of the book ‘Be You,’ a content creator working under the name ‘Luna Yogini,‘ and the Head of the Satya Indian Institute of Culture and Arts. Through her works, she pays tribute to India, as she is eternally grateful to the country for embracing her with love and helping her become the person she is today. We, at Hallyuism, had the fortunate opportunity to connect with her regarding an interview, the detailed excerpts of which you can read ahead:
At the age of 5, you moved to India, moreover, this is your second home now, so our question is why only India, what inspired your mother in choosing this country, and were you able to accommodate easily in the Indian environment?
I moved to India with my mother at the age of 5. My mother and father had met through their love for Yoga and Indian Philosophy. They were among the first people in Korea working to spread the teachings of Yoga. Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was three. Soon after that, my mother decided to bring me up in India, hoping to raise me in the country she was in love with. She wanted me to grow up in an environment of diversity and various cultures. She also wished for me to learn some Indian languages so that I did not have to depend on English-translated books and could be directly inspired by the scriptures of India. I remember reaching India for the first time; nothing really seemed foreign to me. I felt welcomed and at home.
Your love for Indian dance forms and yoga is very much prominent with the content you post and not to mention that you are a trained Bharatanatyam and Manipuri dancer along with being a yoga instructor too. Both yoga and classical dancing requires immense discipline and patience. In all those times when you feel low, how do you motivate yourself, does these two art forms help you? Kindly share your experience.
Dance and Yoga are definitely the closest friends that help me to be myself. Dance helps me to be present in my body, with the music, and in tune with my heart. Yoga reminds me to ground myself and come closer to my true being. It is so easy to get swayed and led astray, but these two friends never let me be lost for too long. They make my life wholesome and joyful.
Recently you released your first book Be You, Please tell us about the journey of this book.
When my publisher approached me to write a book, I started to think about what I wanted to share with the world, and what message I wanted to communicate to my readers. My answer was ‘love.’ My Korean name means love, and love is my guiding light. I firmly believe that we are all loved, genuinely and truly. We are made with love, we live with love, and we are love. I wanted to share my story to inspire people to love themselves for who they are. I wanted my readers to have the courage to be true and authentic and to remember that they are loved. Be you! Be love! My book is a tribute to our courage, our being, and our love. I hope my book journey carries my love to you.
There might have been times when you have gone through some criticism in general or prejudices, how you dealt with these, and any kind of suggestions for your audience to help them cope with the same whenever they explore a new country.
I have come to a point in my life where I don’t take things too personally. I see that criticism and prejudices are present everywhere we go. Now, I feel how blessed I was as a child; I never really felt discriminated against during my early days in India. However, during my college days and afterward, I noticed how some people laughed at how I looked and called me names like “chingchangchong.” I also observed how some discriminated against my northeastern friends. To be honest, I was more disheartened to see northeast Indians being discriminated against. Despite being Indians, they weren’t fully embraced as such. I could put myself in their shoes, and it made me feel really sad.
But at the end of the day, I believe there is no end to this. So, I feel that what we can do is first be rooted in our being, be confident in our identity, and keep shining our way. Honestly, that’s the best way to respond because the more we react, the more the drama continues. Just be you! Be all that you are! That is my way of responding to discrimination and any kind of criticism.
You have such adorable names as Luna, Yogini and Nirmala however your birth name Dasom stands out so much, kindly share the meaning behind your name as we’ve heard that every Korean name comes with its own unique significance and meaning.
Usually, Korean names stem from Chinese characters, but my name is in pure Korean. It means ‘love.’ No wonder why I am so obsessed with love.
You’ve been living in Rabindranath Tagore’ city, the renowned polymath, and also studied in Visva Bharati, university carrying deep meaning in itself. It would be lovely to hear your experience of living in Shantiniketan throughout.
I studied in Calcutta International School initially. After a few years, my mother said that it was enough to learn English, and we moved to Tagore’s educational village, Santiniketan. I was admitted to Patha Bhavana, a Bengali medium school, in class five, and I finished my schooling there. Tagore wished children to grow in the bosom of nature, so we studied underneath the trees, and the blue sky, and experienced freedom. I also got to explore myself through the expansive educational playground that Tagore provided for us. It was during this time that I discovered my love for dance and Sanskrit. I learned to find peace in learning about myself and growing into my true being. I also learned to appreciate how nature loves us immensely in every season.
I came back to Santiniketan again to pursue my Master in Social Work. This period of my life helped me to understand more about the rural side of India. There might be some aspects where social workers can help uplift the villagers, but honestly, what I personally witnessed was the purity of life in a village. People were farming their own food, eating fresh produce, living in harmony with nature, and cherishing the little joys of life. I learned a lot through this experience and discovered the beauty of small things.
You always emphasise bringing both Korea and India together through your content. That being said, how much both of these countries have left a mark on you as one being your home by birth and another being your home by heart.
I have both India and Korea in my heart. India in me makes my life colourful, ever-expansive, and joyful. Korea in me makes my life dynamic, hardworking, and comforting. I feel that the presence of both India and Korea makes my life wholesome, and by sharing that, I wish for us to go beyond borders and come together as one wholesome family.
It’s been over two decades that you’ve been living in India. If I have to ask you to compare the scenario of Korea’s popularity then versus now and how much of awareness has been incorporated over these years, how would you describe your encounter with Indian people then and now. Is there any change in perception of people according to you, kindly share your thoughts.
When we first came to India in the 90s, Koreans didn’t know much about India. I remember returning to Korea during the summers, and when curious taxi drivers asked about me, most of the time they confused India with Indonesia, as India is called ‘Indo’ in Korean. They didn’t know much about Yoga back then. However, now I see a huge change. Many Koreans are practicing Yoga, and they even go out to Indian restaurants in Korea to enjoy Indian food as a delicacy. Koreans are mostly very interested in the economic growth of a country. So, now they see India as having huge market potential and perhaps becoming a near-future superpower.
Now that you’re living back in Korea, is there anything you want to say to your past self while you lived here, is there any memory or set of memories you want to live again when you come back to India.
All of my memories in India are cherished in my heart. But, instead of wanting to relive a part of my past, I am currently trying to manifest a life in both India and Korea. Fingers crossed!
After knowing so much about you, it is evident to say that the love and respect you have for India and its people is purely appreciable. If you have to make a quick favourite list of souvenirs from India, what all things that be? You can choose anything from clothing to culture to cuisine.
I usually bring some kurtas for my mother and her friends. They also love the Biotique Almond Eye Cream. Additionally, I bring Isabgol as many acquaintances are into consuming organic dietary fiber supplements. I never forget to bring some Indian snacks like Bhujiya, Moong Dal, etc., and also Indian incense sticks.
It was our immense pleasure to have you Dasom. The work you’re doing in strengthening the ties between both countries is commendable. Before we say bye to you, anything you would like to say to your loving audience, anything in Hindi or Bengali if comfortable.
Tomra acho bole, ami achi. Anek anek bhalobasha! (I am here because you are there. Lots and lots of love!)
Once again, on behalf of our entire team at Hallyuism, we would like to thank Dasom Her (Luna Yogini) for taking out her valuable time for this interview, and we are deeply honored. Wishing her best in all her future endeavours and life ahead! We hope you all loved reading this interview as much as we loved conducting it. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!