The meteoric rise of Korean pop music and dramas has surprisingly not missed India, who’s Bollywood stronghold may be shaking loose with alternative pop culture influences. Though the ‘Hallyu wave’ has quietly been brewing among small circles in the country – its always been quite popular in certain north-eastern pockets since the early 2000’s – now, bands like BTS, Exo and Twice have become household names and dramas are being dubbed in Hindi to be streamed on Indian television. Netflix in India is also now starting to show a good list of dramas, like Strong Girl Bong Soon as well as reality shows like Knowing Brothers!
Homegrown has curated a list of resources for the Indian k-pop lover, ranging from where to get merchandise to proudly flaunt your fandom to learning more about the country’s culture.
Events and Activities
The life of an Indian K-fan used to be quite a lonely affair until the scene recently blew up in the country to produce an array of events, concerts and meet-ups for people to gather and share their love for idol groups and dramas. Here are a few forums through which you could meet other K-enthusiasts like yourself.
I. Korean Cultural Centre
The centre in Delhi is quite active and have events such as movie screenings, classical music instrumental shows and performances by dance groups and comedians. They also hold cultural classes such as cooking workshops and Taekwondo classes.
II. Kpop Festival
The competition held by the Korean Cultural Centre since 2013 is a chance for you to showcase your love for Korean Pop as well as your singing and dancing skills. There are separate categories for vocals and dancing, and both solo and group performances are allowed. There are regional rounds held in the major cities, which culminates in the winner getting to perform at the World Kpop Festival in South Korea.
This is an annual affair, see here to be updated for upcoming dates as well as more information on participation.
III. Pink Box Events
Pink Box Events is an event management company that is bringing k-pop events to India and has worked with artists like NSONIC, Dabit, Hayana, IMFACT, JJCC.
Stay updated on their exciting projects and activities on their facebook page.
IV. Korean Culture Festivals
Held across cities, these festivals have multi-faceted elements such as food stalls and Taekwondo exhibits that allow you to explore deeper into various aspects of Korean culture. They even host mini k-pop competitions! The festival this year was held in Pune, hosted by the Indo-Korean culture group, and they even had a concert and fan meet with boy group Lucente. This group also holds dance events on a regular basis.
V. Facebook Groups
Groups on social media, such as Bengaluru K-Wave Fans, are a great way to connect to other Korean pop culture lovers in your city. Members often hold informal meet-ups and parties and you could even initiate one of your own.
Reach out to the local Korean culture centre in your city to be updated on events and activities. Forums like Destination Kpop India and Kpop High India also post information on their pages, about comebacks, dramas and also events and concerts taking place across the country. FYI, there’s a meet-up happening on the 10th of November in Indore, see here for more events in other cities.
This website has a much more affordable range of k-pop merchandise and seems to be catered for BTS fans. They sell a range of pins, T-shirts and phone covers — all under INR 500 except for their backpacks which retail for INR 1,699.
II. KPOP VIBE
Kpop Vibe has a wider variety of options including crop-tops and sweatshirts but limits itself to Big Bang, Blackpink, Exo, and BTS merchandise.
III. THE KPOPMART
This is a global store but shows prices in INR and ships to India as well. Like the above, it provides a good range of products but only for a few popular groups, such as Big Bang, Blackpink, Exo, BTS, and GOT7.
IV. KPOP BAZAAR
This forum has a good collection of CD’s and music albums including but not limited to groups like Red Velvet, Seventeen, Astro and Wanna One. They also stock collectables and printed notebooks and stationery.
This has been a popular forum for CD’s and merchandise over the years as they have official tie-ups with the agencies of your favourite bands. Though slightly on the pricier side, they contain a huge variety of k-pop groups. It also stocks script books and official soundtrack albums of your much-loved dramas.
The site is already popular as an online portal to shop for all kinds of good. It doesn’t disappoint K-pop and K-drama enthusiasts either. It has a range of official and non-official merchandise customised to fit the needs of all. Its filters also help you take your pick while keeping its affordability in mind.
VII. INDIAN KPOP STORE
This is a shop on Facebook, that is recommended to people by many Indian K-fans on various social media sites. It mainly caters to an Indian audience and hopes to make K-pop albums and merchandise easily available across the country.
This is an online portal that sells posters, anime, Korean comic books, K-drama CD’s, Kpop music albums and merchandise. The site also offers free international shipping to K-fans for orders above a certain amount and provides discounts for bulk orders.
This is a site where one can book tickets for musicals and concerts happening in Korea or in other Asian countries currently or in the future. One can also sell these tickets on the same site in case there is an unfortunate change in plans. You can check it out when your favourite Kpop group announces its concert dates.
You can also look for Instagram pages and Twitter handles of fandoms across the country which give out forms to in order to purchase albums and merchandise in bulk and avail free shipping and other wholesale discounts.
Korean Food & Where To Get It
Korean dramas should come with disclaimers warning the viewers against watching them on an empty stomach. One often longs to slurp down some Ramyun after a long day of binge-watching and this desire is further aggravated by the endless Mukbang videos that often make their way into social media timeline every now and then.
Food is a very integral part of any culture and any interaction with a new cuisine also counts for a cultural experience. No one really understands the struggle of K-fans when it comes to Korean cuisine. It is often hard to judge whether the food you are having is authentic enough to all ideas one has of it is through the screen. Fortunately, for them, the Indian food industry is finally becoming aware of the growing target audience that hopes to get a taste of some Kimchi.
The cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai have a fair share places where one can go to have an authentic experience of the Korean cuisine. Different food outlets across these cities are also bringing Patbingsu, a dessert made out of shaved ice, to the Indian table. These can be your go-to places to take a break from Rajma Chawal and or to de-stress with some Jjajjangmyun after a long day with k-pop blasting from the speakers in the background.
Korean ingredients and food products are also making their way into Indian supermarkets and one can also order them from a few sites mentioned above.
You can also check out our list of best Korean restaurants here.
K-Beauty & K-Fashion
Most international K-fans are well aware of how toxic trying to adopt Korean beauty standards can get. While both K-pop and K-dramas promoting ideas about how one should ideally look and how much one should weigh can be harmful to an unaware audience, we can’t deny the great quality of skincare products that Korean companies offer. More often that not, people also end up picking the style of clothing or accessories that they come across on the screen.
The Northeastern states of India is an ideal place to look for such commodities as the area is the first to receive any new stock of fashion or beauty products from countries like South Korea, China or Japan. Check out the markets at Shillong or Gangtok for example. Tibetan colonies and settlements across the country like Majnu ka Tilla in Delhi are also places that have a vibrant culture of street markets where one can browse through these products.
You may also find products in the street markets of major cities, such as Commercial street in Bangalore but will have to look thoroughly. Several individual outlets are also becoming aware of the growing target audience and setting up stores in or near such areas, like Nihao in Bangalore.
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