The Traction Of K-Pop In Northeast India

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Posted in Featured, Northeast, Opinion


Priyanka Sarkar

“K Pop” or Korean Pop Music has become a worldwide phenomenon. Internet and social media revolution proffered the recognition it deserved. Hallyu (Korean Wave) is a musical genre inspired by jazzy ballads and upbeat, and an offshoot of cultural hybridization.   It is a unique contributor to the realm of pop music. Perfectly choreographed videos, trend-defining fashion, toe-tapping techno beats, crazy colourful aesthetics is what differs them from the top brands of the west. Korean Wave or “Hallyu” started from China’s capital Beijing in the mid-1990s. However, it was strongly opposed in Japan. As an international phenomenon, Hallyu is supported and encouraged by the Korean government. The K-Pop wave helps in promoting the Korean culture, leading to economic growth, thereby strengthening the country’s political stand and diplomatic ties.

Amassing a large fan base worldwide, K-Pop is a wave enshrouding Northeast India. Visit these eight states, and believe in the popularity all by yourself.

Northeast India is an unparalleled diversity with an enormous spectrum of resplendence, and the incorporation of myriad traditions, cultures and varied diversities are termed to be the heart of the Korean Wave in India. Food habits, outfit, personality has seen a major shift since the prevalence of Hallyu Wave.

Northeast India’s cultural discrepancy with the “mainland India’s” entertainment fraternities is what bewitches them and draws a sense of attachment for the Korean diversion. For instance — let us consider Manipur — the state that bogged insurgency for a long time. This led to the waging of war, thereby pursuing a myriad of demands. In 2000, The Revolutionary People’s Front — a powerful local group imposed a ban on Hindi films and channels to pull out the presence of “so-called Indianisation”.

Finally, Korean films filled this vacuum. The streets of Manipur are swamped with pirated Korean DVDs and CDs. Even 14 years later, when the ban has been loosened somehow and Hindi films are circulated across the state, Manipur continues to thrall with the Korean fare.

Piracy has helped the Korean wave flourish in the Northeast as pirated CDs and DVDs of Korean films and music are available at Rs 30 in several states of the northeast.

While posters of Bollywood actors and singers are largely found in the rooms of the walls of youngsters in other parts of the country, posters of K-Pop vocalists hog the limelight in most of the northeast. It won’t be wrong if one says that Korean ethos has taken over the hearts and homes of many households in the northeast. People in Mizoram, even the older generation, have been addicted entirely to Korean songs and films since the local cable commenced the translation process.

Citizens have continued to drape themselves with costumes and a sense of fashion adopted by the Korean bands. People wear wigs styled after Korean spiky haircuts. While most of them have social media accounts named after Korean terms. Locals here pick up Korean instead of Hindi and articulate through the following lingo.

K-Pop bands and artists were first introduced on the music stages in Northeast at the Hornbill Festival- an annual festival celebrated in Nagaland. The key factor that abets the popularity of the Korean wave is the cultural proximity of the Korean society with that of the Manipuri, Naga and the Mizo societies. These are based on clan communities

The main reason for the success of the Korean wave through TV dramas have emerged due to the portrayal of Asian family-friendly values. The socio-cultural resemblance – love for music and celebration of cultivating crops has been inculcated both among the Mizos and Nagas. Shamanism, a belief system common to Pagan societies is found both in Manipur and South Korea. Restaurants here offered cliches from the Korean cuisine with preference to Korean dishes – kimchi, Korean barbeque and drink soju. Restaurants are hiring Korean chefs and cater to Korean cuisine exclusively. This process termed Koreanisation now stood to be a matter of concern. This is continually rising in the form of soft power. Cultural invasion in the form of the Korean wave in India’s northeast has emerged as an alternative form of modernity, a challenging endeavour.

Refusing to be “Indianised” or accepting its diversities, never seemed to be an obstacle for cultural hybridisation. People here in the Northeast face racial discrimination and oppression in various Indian metros. This has left people slightly inclined towards the Hallyu wave.

Any cultural proximity might not bring such a severe impact, putting down its customs and traditions. This is what is considered of utmost importance especially when the discussion marks Northeast India – the heart of Korean culture. Most of the people barely speak Hindi but eagerly trying to adopt the Korean language is now a matter of debate. Imbalances of such kinds require an immediate call from a scholarly discourse.


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