Little Korea in Northeast & Arunachal

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Certain foreign items have found universal acceptance and are commonly used in many countries of the world. Pizzas, burgers, Coke, Pepsi, French fries, Red Bull and Monster are found in most parts of the world. Chinese food like chow, chowmein and fried rice are available everywhere. Likewise, momos, dosa, pani-puri and tandoori chicken can be found in most parts of the country. In India, international movies and serials were dominated by American and English productions.

During the last few decades, Northeast India and Arunachal are witnessing a Korean wave. Starting with Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, this Korean wave spread across all the states of the Northeast. Many youths, especially Generation Z and Millennials, are addicted to Korean drama (K-drama), Korean pop music (K-pop), Korean movies (K-movies), Korean fashion (K-fashion), Korean beauty products (K-beauty), etc. So much is the penetration of the Korean culture that globally it has been termed as a ‘hallyu’ or a wave.

The hallyu started with K-pop and K-drama. Korean bands like Bangtan Boys (BTS), EXO and Blackpink are very famous in India and feature among the top bands in terms of follower-ship. Many people may recall the famous Gangnam style dance which was popular across the world. Presently K-dramas and K-movies are being screened on many Indian channels with subtitles or often dubbed. The popularity of K-dramas and K-movies are leading to the spread of Korean culture, cuisine, fashion, etc.

K-beauty and K-fashion are spreading rapidly. K-beauty includes products for skincare, makeup products/procedures that originated in Korea and are spreading rapidly. It includes serums, mask sheets, moisturizers, eye-creams, lip balms, etc, of popular brands like Etude House, Tonymoly, Missha, Mizon, Tosowoong, etc. K-fashion is also spreading rapidly amongst the youths. In fact, shops selling K-beauty products are mushrooming in many towns and cities, and online sites are also doing brisk business.

Korean cuisine is also spreading rapidly, especially among the Generation Z and Millennials. Korean restaurants are mushrooming in many towns/cities and food items like kimchi, ramyen, miso, gochujang, gochugaru and kimbap are widely available and popular.

South Korea is a small country and many youths may not be able to point out South Korea on a map. However, the Korean wave is gradually spreading to mainland India and south east Asia also. It is revealed that the rise of South Korea as a soft power exporting culture, fashion and cuisine has been the result of promoting policies by the South Korean government with grants and subsidies. It appears that this policy of exporting culture, fashion and recipes is indirectly boosting South Korean business in India. No wonder South Korean business is booming in India! Many Korean companies like Samsung, Hyundai, LG, Daewoo, etc, are doing brisk business in India.

In many parts of the Northeast and Arunachal, one can spot youths wearing and flaunting K-fashion. In fact, many young children and youths can speak Korean language. Such is the spread of Korean wave that we may have to start saying ‘Ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo’ and ‘Oppa’.  (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)