As the Korean culture wave gathers steam across India well into 2021, fans are riding the tide like never before.
Gone are the days when ‘K’ serial meant Indian tear-jerkers or confusing family drama with complicated ‘memory loss’ and endless twists of reincarnation. The new K-drama lovers don’t stop at watching the dramas: they pick up the language, explore the food and immerse themselves in the culture- of Korea
Action-romance drama Descendants of the Sun, whose Hindi dubbed version premiered in India in 2017 on Zindagi channel, was quite popular in India with its love story between a Korean Special Forces captain and a surgeon as they faced dangers in a war-torn country. Rich man-meets-poor woman, a cross-border love story or the classic underdog tale- replaceable banyan trees with cherry blossoms, the Gangs with Han river and what one gets is a Korean drama with all the themes popular in the Indian themes that find resonance in the Indian culture.
While the Korean wave or Hallyu dates back to the 1990s, the increased penetration of Internet and streaming services in the last few years has made South Korean stars like Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won of Secret Garden, Son Ye-jin and Jung Hae-in of Something in the Rain, Gong Yoo of Coffee Prince and Goblin, Lee Min-ho of Boys Over Flowers and Park Seo-joon of Fight For My Way household names in India. Experts say Korean content, especially with their films in the crime, thriller and zombie genres, has been the talk of the international film circuit for decades and now courtesy Parasite, the first film from the country to win an Oscar, it has started reaching to the Indian masses.
Parasite, the 2019 twisted class satire charted history at this year’s Academy Awards by winning four trophies, including best picture and best director for Bong Joon-ho.
According to film journalist-critic Gajendra Singh Bhati, “Our filmmakers started going out for international film festivals and came across Korean films. Twenty years ago, access was still limited. Their shows started gaining popularity after the Internet got better in India with the coming of streamers like Netflix.”
South Korea didn’t really exist, at least for the majority of Indians for whom world cinema is often limited to the Los Angeles-based Hollywood, until the 2020 Oscars. But Bhati noted, be it Salman khan’s Bharat (Ode to My Father) or the John Abraham -starrer Rocky Handsome (The Man from Nowhere). It is not surprising that Indians are drawn towards Korean Food. Ingredients such as rice, noodles, vegetables, meat and ingredients such as sesame oil, chilli, pepper, soy, and spices are common across Korean as well as Indian cuisine. The Korean food plate consists of a protein source like meat or tofu, broth, rice and side dishes like kimchi, seaweed, anchovies etc. Korean food. has gained popularity because of the health benefits associated with it as well as the influence through K-dramas. With easy access to information and recipes online, Indian consumers are not shying away from experimenting with food and are experimenting with the cuisine adding an Indian twist to it.
The author, Chandana Vidap, is an intern with Sakshi Post and a student of Suchitra Academy, Hyderabad.