Life & Style

Panel discussion: what’s ticking with all things K

The panel: (From top left) Rathi Jafer, Chinmayi Sripada, Sandeep Dutta, Scherezade Shroff, Young-Geul Choi, and Vikramjit Roy  

It’s not like we needed proof that all things South Korea is popular at the moment. But two minutes into the webinar, ‘The Rising Korean Wave in India’, it was at capacity (sorry folks). Curated by The Hindu Weekend for The Hindu, in association with Korea Tourism Organization, the almost one-hour session had discussions on travel to South Korea, K-Drama and the instant connect Indians feel with it (perhaps because of the many similarities between our cultures), K-Beauty and how people use it as both skin care and as a method of self care. And let’s not forget another hot topic: Korean food. Who doesn’t love ramyun and kimchi fried rice? Chef Vikramjit Roy, one of the panellists, even took a short kitchen break to show the audience white kimchi, the flavourful, non-spicy dish made with cabbage and seasonal vegetables, and gochujang, the savoury-sweet red chilli paste that goes into bibimbap and a host of other Korean dishes.

Here are a few takeaways from the session:

A selection of K-Beauty products

A selection of K-Beauty products  

K-Beauty for everyone: Chinmayi Sripada, who began trying Korean beauty products in 2014 after reading about them on a few blogs, has since not only become a convert, but has also started Isle of Skin, an e-portal, to bring her favourite brands to the country. Think Cosrx, Pyunkang, Dr Ceuracle, and Ultru. She said that the way Korean products remain in touch with their traditions of herbal medicine reminds her of Ayurveda and its place in our lifestyle. “I was fascinated by how people are using K-Beauty [and its detailed regimens] as a method of self care, to ground themselves, to overcome anxiety,” said the singer and entrepreneur, adding that in 2020, when many of her projects and rehearsals were cancelled, it was her work with the e-store that kept her going.

A still from ‘Flower of Evil’

A still from ‘Flower of Evil’  

K-Drama is a holistic experience: It isn’t just mushy romance! The messaging in these shows is often quite strong — subtly bringing in important conversations such as mental health or sexual harassment at work. “You can’t watch it and ignore [such topics] or the food, fashion and lifestyle. It is all packaged so well that I want to travel there,” said Scherezade Shroff, who’s been to Seoul twice, but would like to go back and see the place with a fan’s eyes (echoing the sentiments shared by many who logged in to the webinar). Interestingly, in India, viewing for K-dramas on Netflix increased more than 370% in 2020 from the year before. If you’d like to add to the number, here’s Shroff’s starter kit: Crash Landing on You, Reply 1988, Descendants of the Sun, Flower of Evil, and The Penthouse: War in Life. “There is no age restriction. My 76-year-old dad and 74-year-old mum have also got into it [without me telling them anything] and watch their own stuff,” said the lifestyle content creator.

Watch the discussion here

Korean language boom: In 2006, when people registered with the Indo-Korean Cultural and Information Centre in Chennai to learn Korean, it was solely for reasons of employment. “Today, it is to follow what their idol is singing or their favourite star is saying,” shared Rathi Jafer, director of InKo Centre and moderator of the webinar, adding that there’s always a waiting list now.



Travel to South Korea: “Mass vaccination is ongoing in the country, and South Korea hopes to achieve herd immunity by the end of September. They are also launching vaccine passports by the end of this month,” said Sandeep Dutta, Marketing Manager, Korea Tourism Organization. “So by the end of this year, hopefully, travel can happen without quarantine.” Once you get there, there’s plenty to look forward to, including dedicated tours to locations used in K-Dramas and K-Pop videos. Such as Camp Greaves — an hour’s drive from Seoul — where large portions of Descendants of the Sun were shot.

Needless to say, the audience was relentless with questions. Some were curious about why Hallyu (Korean wave) is spreading so fast now — “the pandemic contributed to this quite a bit, at least in India,” felt Shroff — while others wanted to know if BTS cards would be included in the new McDonald’s meal announced in collaboration with the popular seven-member K-Pop group! That’s still under wraps though. (The BTS Meal will launch in Delhi in June). As for post-pandemic travel, “We hope to see you all in South Korea soon,” said Young-Geul Choi, Director, KTO, in his closing address.

Check out the full session on YouTube, on the THEME - The Hindu page.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 11:45:38 PM |

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