BENGALURU: If Spiderman and Superman transcended Hollywood to become a cultural reference across the world, including India, for many, there’s a whole new band of icons that have overtaken the imagination. From ramyeon and kimchi to BTS, Crash Landing On You and Reply 1988, South Korean culture has many fans in Namma Bengaluru. While the South Korean’s entertainment industry has built solid production standards thanks to Hallyu (or the Korean wave), a term used to describe the global popularity of all things Korean, fans are drawn to K-pop and Korean dramas for more than the glamour on display.
For starters, as fellow ‘orientals’, many people connect with the social relations that Korean shows depict. Bengaluru student Nidhi Prashanth wasn’t very interested in K-dramas until she watched What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim which friends recommended. Then, she was hooked. “I feel that the culture of Korea featured in some of these series is similar to that in India.
Even things like the divisions in the upper and lower strata of society are common,” she says. Discontentment with the dominance of European and American cultures prompted people like Anoushka Roy, a digital specialist in the city, to look for alternatives. “It’s time that we are now exposed to movies that represent Asian culture. Many K-series reflect what happens in an Indian household,” says Roy, adding that shows like shows like Kill Me Heal Me, Goblin inf luenc ed her strongly. Nikitha JV, co-founder of Vrithi HR House, found a parallel between Crash Landing On You, the Korean series she’s currently watching, and the Bollywood film Veer-Zaara.
“The series’ story is almost similar to Veer-Zaara but set in the context of South and North Korea. It is about a South Korean woman who finds her true love in North Korea. However, what lifts the show is the detailing, the culture of North Korea, its hostility with South Koreans, and also the technical excellence,” says Nikitha. And then, there’s the music.
K-pop has its critics, but music – and dance – know no barriers. Stunning choreography in music videos is a hallmark of the industry, and has its own following. A group of 15 likeminded women formed Helix, a Bengaluru-based competitive K-pop dance team. “K-pop music actually united us all. The lyrics of Korean songs are so meaningful that it can bring someone’s mind out of darkness.
A music series called Love Yourself by BTS can actually help someone overcome depression and body dysmorphia,” says Harshita Kaushik, one of the members. BTS’ acclaimed Love Yourself series – comprising four albums and one video release – talk about mental health and social pressure, and offer the message of being kind to yourself. Another member, Sharanya Nambiar, talks about her own takeaways: “Korean culture is more about inclusivity with fans and followers. That is what is keeping all of us engaged.”