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Sat, 28 Mar 2020

Northeast Today


February 11
11:41 2020

Shazia Hazarika


Squinting across the field on hearing a melody of a familiar tongue, I first laid my eyes on  him. Wearing a black cap and a face mask, anyone could have  mistook  him  for  a  tourist, if not for the fact that he was up on the stage, rehearsing for his concert: that he was Jang Han Byul, star of the festival.

A pleasant winter morning, people bustling around, setting stalls for the day’s event and  there I was, soaking it all in. It was  my  first  time attending the Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong. I could hardly relish the sight of myriad of stalls in the venue, which were being set up at the Polo 5th Ground, when I heard someone singing in Korean. My first thought was “Wow this guy sings so well in Korean, pronunciations on point!” Then it struck me! “What if it’s really him!?” I wouldn’t have even imagined that I could end up watching Jang Han Byul rehearse for his concert, that was to be held the same day in the evening. Jang Han Byul is a South Korean singer who was scheduled to perform in The 4th Cherry Blossom Festival 2019. It was Shillong’s first ever Kpop concert and my head was dizzy with the fact that I just saw a Korean singer for the first time. Jang Han Byul was not new to the Northeast as he had performed in Nagaland and Dimapur earlier this year itself.

This is just a charming glimpse into the Korean or the Hallyu wave that India is finally stepping into. Korean Pop music has been a thing of absolute delight and wonderful craze since the beginning, but it had a slow spread across the world at start. But eventually with steadfast speed it gripped the western countries and established it’s global fandom. In India, the reach has been much slower compared to other countries but people of the northeast were among the first ones to start following the Kpop and Kdrama trend when it was still in its initial stage in our country. It wasn’t until 2014 when India had its first Kpop concert by the boy band N Sonic.

Thereafter, few Kpop idol groups have made their way to India and made so many young hearts go “duugun duugun”! We have had performances held by Kpop boy groups such as JJCC, the in the year before, India experienced three Kpop concerts : Snuper in Delhi, Lucente  in Mumbai and M.O.N.T performed in Nagaland on the occasion of the Hornbill Festival and went ahead to hold another concert in Manipur as well. In the year 2019, India has seen more Kpop concerts compared to previous years. The boy group IN2IT performed in Mumbai and Delhi few months back. The northeast relished a handful of concerts. The popular group KARD performed in New Delhi and Guwahati as a part of their PLAY YOUR KARD Right Tour. As mentioned earlier, singer Jang Han Byul had also performed a few times this year. India has finally taken its baby steps towards fans’ long-awaited wish of attending Kpop concerts.

Not long ago, Livon had launched a Kpop competition to assemble and form India’s first ever All Girls Korean Pop (Kpop) band. The venues for the contest was at Cotton University in Guwahati and at St. Anthony’s College in Shillong. They also held online rounds for the same. In collaboration with international music channel 9XO, this talent hunt would result in the selection of 5 girls who will be honed in this field and will receive the opportunity to release their Kpop music video on channel 9XO.

KPOP music is a multi-billion dollar industry at present. Many groups have been formed since the late 1960s and many are in the making every year. Groups, for instance, Bangtan Sonyeondan or better known as BTS, Big Bang, EXO, IKON, BlackPink, Red Vevet and so on (this list can go on till eternity) enjoy a fandom base across the globe. Earlier this year, A concert film featuring BTS, “Love  Yourself  in  Seoul”,  was  screened  in 108 PVR multiplexes pan India. With the incredible response that it received, as thousands of fans came to watch it, PVR also screened a re- run “Love Yourself in Seoul Encore”.

I remember the day when my roommate introduced me to the world of Kpop and Kdrama and I’m nothing but grateful to her for changing the course of my hobbies, it was like signing a no- return policy. Korean dramas , popularly called Kdramas, are also a thing of ultimate pleasure , that has captured the mind and heart of so many young fans especially teenage girls. Besides the unrealistically beautiful Rom-com stories of fantasy-filled scenes and impossibly handsome main leads and heartbreaking one-sided love of the second-male leads (yeah that’s a thing, trust me) or the thrill of the chase shown in the crime or court-based dramas , we have  the  soulful  and upbeat OSTs (Original Soundtrack) of the Kdramas to fall in love with and hence enter one’s own wonderland of imagined scenarios.

Fans who watch Kdramas and listen to Kpop on a daily basis tend to pick up few South Korean phrases which they enjoy using now and then. This has evidently led to an increase in the desire among fans to learn the South Korean tongue. They learn it either by enrolling themselves into  a Korean language course of a university  or  from available online courses. The Hallyu wave essentially has the attractive factor that one cannot simply deny after experiencing its magic.

Love for Korean media has also influenced people to adopt few of their fashion, beauty and cuisine trends. Many South Korean restaurants have opened up around India. Ramyeon is a Korean noodle dish which is an all time favourite. Korean beauty products like the sheet mask is now available almost everywhere. And Korean fashion trends are a hit among the youth as well. Even though it’s a fairly new phenomena and alien to many, it is a fact that Korean culture is on the ascend in our country and has been on the rise for longer in other parts of the world. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it the beginning of an era. Although Kdramas have set a ridiculous standard for my Ideal man and Kpop has completely changed the course of my taste in music, I believe that’s the beauty of changing trends in life. This is an appealing new section in the present chapter of India and I do hope we get to relish more of it as time passes by.




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