K-Pop Festival India of 2017 has just announced its winners for the online video contest held in India. In 2016, a girl from Mizoram beat contestants from 65 countries to win the best vocal in the K-Pop World Festival in Changwon, South Korea. The K-Pop World Festival is organized by South Korea's foreign affairs ministry along with Korea Broadcasting System and Korean Culture and Information Service to promote Hallyu (Korean Wave).
What is Hallyu?
Hallyu or Korean Wave is the phenomenon of Korean entertainment and popular culture, which includes pop music, TV dramas and movies. These have become popular worldwide in the past two decades. The North East is considered the heart of Korean Wave in India.
Picture courtesy: Instagram/2ne1official
Korean songs, movies and fashion styles are followed closely by many young people in the seven states of the region. The North Eastern public has been loyal fans of K-Pop ever since the Hallyu wave struck. Other regions of India probably had its first interaction with K-Pop after PSY's wildly popular 'Gangnam' Style made its presence felt in the global arena.
Popularity of K-Pop in North East India
But why did K-Pop become so popular in the North East? The answer, at least in Manipur, lies in the ban imposed on Hindi films and TV channels by The Revolutionary People's Front. The prime source of entertainment for people at this juncture was supplied through pirated DVDs of Korean music, dramas and films.
Picture courtesy: Instagram/bts.bighitofficial
These DVDS cost about Rs 100-200, and are easily available, making the access and popularity to K-Pop even more widespread. With the advent of Korea's KBS World Arirang TV channel, Manipur soon resembled a mini-Korea. This craze continues 17 years after the ban on Hindi films and channels has been relaxed.
Home to more than 220 ethnic groups--each with its unique cultural transitions and language--the people of the North East feel more connected with the South-East Asian culture than that of the heartland of India. This connection could be due to a range of factors like physical resemblance, traditional knowledge systems and food habits.
There are numerous Korean restaurants in the seven states that cater to this fascination with the Korean way of life. Hair colour and haircuts are all inspired by the Korean pop idols. The outfits,hair styles and colours as well as the combination of dance and music makes it highly addictive.
Picture courtesy: Instagram/_bigbang_kpop
Lucy Nelia, editor-in-chief at www.destinationkpop.com says, "I think the appeal of K-Pop lies with its concept of fresh, colourful, youthfulness, with a certain amount of innocence that you do not see in other music industries anymore. Despite the usual cynicism, the fact remains that it connects with the youth in a huge way." She also throws light on the lack of inclusion that the majority of North East India feels, be it in the kind of mainstream media representations of the North East or the geographical distance from the mainland.
The popularity of Korean music can be gauged from the fact that the Government of Nagaland brought them for its annual Hornbill Festival, which is considered to be one of the major cultural festivals in India. The K-Pop culture seems to be steadily gaining momentum in India and it seems that this wave is here to stay.