[Campus Commentary]Hallyu makes waves in northeast India

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[Campus Commentary]Hallyu makes waves in northeast India

It is quite surprising to find many Indian nationals trying to look like Mongolians or Koreans on the campus of Delhi University where I am studying.
They are seen all around India, astonishing Koreans like myself by their familiar features and ways of dressing.
They are significantly different from most Indians we know, not only in appearance but also in culture, language, fashions, food and many other ways. It is hard to believe they are Indians, and many are even unwilling to think of themselves as Indians. However, at least officially their nationality is Indian.
They come from ethnic tribes in northeastern India, especially from Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Some may also come from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.
You would be surprised to know how much they appreciate Korean movies, TV dramas and pop music.
They even know films which many Koreans don’t know about, cook Korean food at home and make kimchi, sing Korean songs and learn the Korean language.
Korean language courses have recently been offered in some colleges at Delhi University, and students applying for these courses are mostly northeastern Indians. This can be credited to Arirang TV, the Korean TV channel that broadcasts in some of the northeastern regions of India.
They are deeply affected by Korean culture through Arirang TV, especially the younger generation. Quoting from my northeastern Indian classmates at Delhi University, “Koreans and northeastern Indians share similar characteristics, cultures and even emotions. That’s why we’re so moved by Korean movies and TV dramas and wish to learn Korean so much,” said 21-year-old Maiyampi from Manipur, a third-year honors student in philosopy.
Due to the influence of the so-called hallyu in northeastern India, it is true that young Koreans studying in India easily make friends and get along with northeasterners more than other Indians.
They keep asking us about Korean movies, TV dramas, songs, actors and cuisine.
Living among them for more than three years now, I’ve got to know that the movie “Classic” was the first Korean film to become a hit in northeast India and trigger hallyu in the region.
Subsequent hits were the films “My Sassy Girl,” “My Tutor Friend,” “Winter Sonata,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “A Moment to Remember” and more.
Korean DVDs made in China with English subtitles are sold in almost every DVD shop in the northeastern regions.
Recently an article in a newspaper in India remarked on the influence of hallyu among northeastern youths. It noted, “Young people in Manipur use the Korean language as their ‘secret language’ while they are with elders.”
This demonstrates how much the region’s young admire Korean culture.
It is encouraging that Korean culture is appreciated by others, but it is also time for us to look back critically and improve the quality of the cultural products we are exporting.

*The writer is an international student studying philosophy at the Miranda House College of Delhi University in India.

by Park Min-hye
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