By Sweetlena Mandal
The Korean pop or, more popularly known as the K-pop is the thing right now. Captivating the youth all around the world with its colourful palette, catchy lines and that perfect touch of English, K-pop has taken the world by storm; and how long can India stay away from it. But unlike how it is believed, K-pop’s genesis in India was way before the nation started swaying its hip to Oppa Gangnam Style.
From its invasion in the hearts of the youth of Manipur to galloping to all the parts of India, K-pop is now a growing trend. If you are living in the 21st century and not under a rock by any chance, it is absolutely impossible for you to not know about K-pop yet. Youtube is flooded with videos of people reacting to K-pop. These have undoubtedly grabbed the attention of many K-poppers (K-pop fans) as well as the non-K-poppers.
With the recent global recognition of the K-pop band Bangtan Sonyeondan or Beyond the Scene (BTS), the craze for this particular genre has surpassed Psy’s Oppa Gangnam Style phase. The path that has been paved by idols like Psy and bands like Big Bang, Shinee, Girls Generation, 2NE1 and more, now guides the new generation bands like Black Pink, BTS, EXO, Monstax, Wanna One etc.
So what is it about these songs that make K-pop a treat to our eyes? At least the 19-year-old Sayantani Boral thinks, “The lyrics. It is so versatile. Their choreography is lit.” And I agree. One certainly cannot doubt their dancing skills which is simultaneously jaw-dropping and innovative.
The music videos have scenes which are deeply woven with concepts which, much to the fans’ delight gives rise to the never-ending list of theories.
Socially conscious songs such as No More Dreams (BTS) talk about the pressure that the society exerts on young kids regarding their career choices, songs like this is not uncommon in K-pop. Another song by this band that’s worth mentioning is the song by the name 21st Century Girl. As the name suggests it is indeed a feminist song, where one of the vocal member, Jimin sings:
“Tell them that you’re strong
Tell them you are enough”
Of course, BTS is not the only or the first one to incorporate social issues into their songs.
The K-pop artist Seo Taiji, who recently has held a 25th-anniversary concert, has written more than one song which concerns the social stigma. His song Classroom Idea rants about the Korean education system and criticizes the pressurising system.
The rapper Mad Clown wrote a story where you can find a 24-year-old girl named Coffee Kim, in his 2015 song Coffee Copy Girl. With lines like:
“If you’re ugly, you’re an eyesore coffee copy lady
Be conservative, be kind, coffee copy lady
Be a flower to the office”
The song talks about the gender inequality. The list doesn’t end here.
KARD is another band which has turned a lot of heads with their songs like “Don’t Recall”, “Hola Hola”.
If you ask me what is the reason that has let the K-pop gallop to the rest of the world, I would say it is undoubtedly the fandoms. It is a serious business and one cannot budge any fan from their “missions”.
Yes, they have missions, like taking a particular song to the top of the Melon Charts, or mass streaming the music videos to achieve fastest videos to hit millions of views and so on.
These missions are never ending just like the fan projects. Whether it is sending food trucks for the idols or arranging promotional buses on their birthdays, the fan bases have left no coin unturned.
And if you thought nothing as such happens in India, then you might be wrong, yet again.
The Bangtan India fan base recently had a sapling planting occasion to celebrate the birthday of the two BTS members, Rapmonster and Jungkook. Maitreyee Bhoyar the admin of Bangtan India says, “In India, we are holding up frequent fan meets so that people may interact.” She added, “We are also holding some promotional projects like getting BTS in the Indian media like TV channels, newspaper, magazines so that we can reach more and more people out there and expose BTS to the Indian crowd”.
This culture is teeny-weeny different from that of the rest of the world. After all how many idols around the world send food trucks and coffee trucks for fans waiting to see them? Well, the K-pop artists do that, for their fans. They respect their fans and love them equally; another reason which has resulted in fans miles away to spend pocket money on these fan projects.
The nation’s youth has been influenced by the K-pop world for a long time now. Bands like Shinee, Super Junior are equally popular. Recently GOT7 has started a group Instagram page to quench the thirst of all the IGOT7 or Ahgases (GOT7 fandom). The way these bands have utilised the Internet to bond with their overseas fans needs serious appreciation. The idols too have noticed the K-pop trend in India. During live broadcasts, India has been mentioned and acknowledged more than once.
If you thought that the Oppa Gangnam style was the end of the K-pop trend in India, then it’s time to recheck the facts. Because the recent #kokobopchallenge has said enough about the viral trend that K-pop has set for people all around the world. The video of EXO-Ls jamming to Ko-Ko-Bop of EXO went instantly viral and India too followed the lead. A group of Indian doctors were seen carrying on the trend; a young boy continued the fad. Melodic words like “Bultorone”, “Oppa Gangnam style”, “sorry sorry”, “bang bang bang”, etc, have made people sing along.
From doing the footwork of Oppa Gangnam Style to arranging the 20x20ft BTS billboard in Pune (by the Bangtan India) K-pop has come a long way in India. The 2015 Fluttering India, a KBS show which failed to show the brighter side of India to the 6 popular K-pop personalities (Suho (EXO), Minho (SHINee), Changmin (TVXQ), Kyuhyun (Super Junior), Sunggyu (Infinite), Jonghyun (CNBLUE)) and also to the world, was pretty much a flop. It failed to build the bridge between the two nations.
But that wasn’t the end. Because The Korean Cultural Centre in India (KCCI) has never ceased to promote the Korean culture in India through the various contests that they hold every year, giving the Indian K-Poppers a chance to compete on a global platform.
The PR & Communication manager of the Korean Cultural Centre in India (KCCI), Miss. Kim Chamseul says, “The K-pop contest itself was initiated by South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign affairs in 2011, as K-pop world festival.” She further added, “The very first K-pop contest in India was held with only 37 teams in 2012. However, we had 424 teams this year which was more than double of last year. Including the regional rounds in 11 regions, we had more than 5,600 audiences for the events.”
The statistical charts of Google trends show a growing interest in Indians for this foreign music. The admins of various fan bases have been working their way around to encourage more people to embrace K-pop; these kinds of efforts will probably lead to more popularity of K-pop in India.
When asked about the promotional projects in India, Ritika Maitra, one of the admins of the EXO-L fan base (called EXO-L India) in India says, “Yes we did. For Exo’s 5th anniversary, we collected Rs. 58,000 and donated to Umang Foundation for the less privileged children.” She further explained, “We collected Rs.12000 and contributed with the global bases to provide food truck for the KexoLs (the Korean exo-L) during their dot concert. We are planning 10 projects during the year-end celebrating all the 9 birthdays of the members.” Like I said, it is a serious business.
With all these promotions and effort of these organisations, it is safe to say that K-pop is no doubt here, and it is definitely going to grow bigger. The K-pop craze in India may not be colossal at the moment, but it is not just a blinded craze, it is an emotion.
Prerna Tiwari, admin, mediator between KCCI and fan club (Supporter and an official promoter of Korean Culture, certified by the KCCi in 2015) is probably right when she says, “Not only fans participate in promotional events but they always put their best foot forward and do their little nit even while living miles away from the place of the execution of the project.”
As they say, music has no language, I guess, it’s time for us to embrace this not-so-new world of K-pop. Because if we can sing Despacito without understanding a word of it and make it the nation’s party song, we can definitely listen to Mic Drop (BTS), Crooked (G Dragon), Me like Yuh (Jay Park) etc. language is certainly not an issue.
If you enjoyed Psy, then you should absolutely explore K-pop, because there are way too many catchy K-pop songs to limit yourself to singing “Oppa Gangnam Style” every time when someone asks “Hey, do you know K-pop?”
Image Credits: Google Images