Korean culture spreads in city, thanks to K-pop

Hit song ‘Gangnam style’ was just the beginning. The city is now grooving to Korean beats, watching Korean drama, and buying cute Korean stuff

The Korean store 'Mumuso' on Commercial Street.

Korean pop has a significant following in Bengaluru, especially among teens and young adults.

The popularity of things Korean is largely attributed to the Korean entertainment industry, especially Korean drama and pop.

Korean artistes can sing and dance at the same time: they do not lip sync. That makes their pop unique, say fans. 

Despite the language barrier, K-pop has captured the hearts of many in Bengaluru.  Bengaluru Kwave Fan Club is one of the numerous fanclubs for Korean culture in the city. 

This seven-year-old organisation was founded by a group of young teenagers, now into their youth. 

They use a WhatsApp group to conduct events and meet-ups. 

Other Korean pop fan groups meet in Cubbon Park and talk about the bands and songs they like.

Bengaluru is joining many cities in the country, and across the world, that enjoy Korean pop.

Ashwini, part of Kwave Fan Club, is a first year graduate science student. “It is nice to meet like-minded people at one spot,” she says.

What makes K-pop so popular? Fans list many merits: aesthetically pleasing music videos, interwoven story-lines, and excellent choreography.

Impana, K-pop event organiser and avid watcher of Korean music videos, traces her fascination to her interest in anime.

“I watch a lot of anime, so K-pop just came along, I guess. Plus my best friend’s sister found it and then it was just a chain of obsession,” she says.

Ashvini, a 20-year-old Bcom student, was hit by the Hallyu wave when she was in high school. “The lyrics inspire me, and their music helps me heal,” she says.

She also loves Korean street fashion, as depicted in their videos. 

Like pop, Korean TV dramas are addictive, say fans. 

DramaFever, a website for K-drama fans, is a big draw. Other video sites that stream K-drama are Netflix, YouTube and Hulu. “I got hooked to it on YouTube,” says Nikhita, a student. “The dramas are exaggerated yet entertaining and relatable.” 

Moon lovers-Scarlet heart is a historical drama that has won admirers for its tragic-romance storyline. When it ended, fans in many countries submitted petitions for a second season.

Why it’s called Hallyu

Over the past decade, South Korean culture has spread across the world. ‘Hallyu’ or ‘the Korean wave’ has touched many shores. In 1999, the Korean culture ministry released a CD in Chinese called Hallyu--The Korean Song, and that gave the movement its name. Hallyu means ‘flow of Korea.’

Korean stores in Bengaluru

With the expansion of Korean culture, many Korean stores are coming up in Bangalore.

Korean Mart, located in Kammanahalli, is just below Arirang, a popular Korean restaurant. It sells all ingredients you need to make Korean dishes. Items include instant ramen (clam and seafood flavours too), rice cakes, fish cakes, sauces (bulgogi, chilli, gochujang), pastes, rice, Korean coffee, tea, and utensils. It also offers snacks imported from Korea.

Mumuso, on Commercial Street, is a Korean brand store which sells daily items and accessories. Their most commonly sold products are makeup bags, pouches and stationery. Their name is inspired by a Korean cartoon series. Prices range bewtween Rs 69 and Rs 3,000.

Ilahui, on Church Street, has tons of soft toys, among other Korean items.

Karen, a customer, says describes the products as cute. “Even the smallest basic things are adorably designed,” she says. She mostly buys face packs and skin care supplements.

Some popular bands

BTS

BTS is the most beloved Korean boy band around. Its name comes from ‘Bangtan Sonyeondan’ which in Korean means ‘bulletproof boy scouts.’ BTS has a large fanbase called that calls itself ARMY, an acronym for Adorable Representative MC for Youth. The band won the Top Social Artist Billboard for three consecutive years from 2017, surpassing famous singers like Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes. Most of the rap is done by their leader RM. The group’s ‘Love Yourself’ campaign encourages people to have the courage to face their faults and weaknesses, and develop the compassion to forgive themselves. They have celebrity fans and some American artistes, such as Ed Sheeran, have collaborated with them. The most recent album of BTS is ‘Love Yourself.’

Biggest hits: Blood Sweat & Tears, No More Dreams.

BLACKPINK

Debuting in 2016, Blackpink is globally known for making it to the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 Charts. The group’s new single ‘Kill This Love’ is the highest-charting Hot 100 hit ever by a K-pop girl group. They are known for their power-packed dance moves.

Biggest hits: Ddu-Du Ddu-Du, Kill This Love.

EXO

Exo was formed in 2011. This nine-member band performed at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics closing ceremony and fans went crazy, tweeting about the band eight million times in just four hours. The most charming part was when the band ending the concert by thanking fans.

Biggest hits: Monster, Call Me Baby

TWICE

The name suggests the group touches people’s hearts twice, once through the ears and a second time through the eyes. This girl group gained fame with the release of the catchy songs ‘Fancy’ and ‘What is love?’ Twice is starting its own YouTube Original Series, making it the first K-pop girl group to star in it.

Biggest hits: Fancy, What is Love?

BIGBANG

The legendary K-pop group made their debut in 2006. It has gone on to make history both within the country and abroad, as one of the leaders in the Korean wave.

Biggest hits: Bang Bang Bang, Fantastic Baby.

Others you can check out:

DEAN (single artist)

GOT7

Popular Korean TV dramas

#1 Moon Lovers- Scarlet Heart Ryeo

#2 Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

#3 Strong Woman-Bong Soon.

#4 Fight My Way

#5 Gaurdian: The Lonely and Great God (Goblin)

 

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