K-wave grips desi millennials
Bright hair colour and spikes and tapering pants are some signature favourite K-pop looks inspired by K-artists and bands like BTS, BLACKPINK and ITZY, not to forget hit K-series like Squid Game, Crash Landing on You and Oh My Venus that have been topping the charts on all OTT platforms, not only in India but also globally. Youngsters in India are smitten by the K-fever and obsessed with everything about their fashion, culture, beauty, and dramas. If you’re still wondering what’s so special about Korean life, here’s what the young fans have to say.
Krazy for K culture
For 10-year-old student Tycha Samal, K-culture is part of her lifestyle. Tycha, who finds Korean shows and music quite inspiring, recently even got a haircut inspired by her favourite singer Ryujin from the band ITZY. She now plans to visit Seoul for her birthday.
“I feel Korean culture is quite similar to ours; it’s relatable. The way they greet their elders, remove their footwear when they come back home and share meals with family are things we do too. I also like the way they dress up, do their hair and makeup. Some of my favourite actors are Hyun Bin, Son Ye-Jin, Song Joong Ki, and Nam Yoon Su and in K-pop I love BLACKPINK, ITZY, and BTS. My favourite music stars are Lisa, Jisoo, Jennie, Rose and RM from BTS and Ryujin from ITZY,” says Tycha who’s also tried to learn the language from her mother’s friends who are trained in the Korean language. “I am planning to enrol in a Korean language class as well.”
Vidhi Rawat, an 18-year-old student, admires Korean people for their hardworking nature and loves to watch K-dramas and is especially crazy about actress Seo Ye-ji and actor Lee Dong Wook from the hit K-drama, It’s Okay Not to Be Okay. Vidhi even often quotes from K-dramas like Itaewon Class, Reply 1988, and The Tale of The Nine Tailed.
“Korea is a beautiful country and their traditions are mesmerising. I find their language very expressive and emotive, and it has influenced many people like me. Watching actors in K-dramas savour kimchi and dishes like tteokbokki, ramen, samgyeopsal and fried chicken has made many of us crave it,” says Vidhi. “My friends and I often discuss current Korean fashion, traditional wear and K-beauty rituals, and look those up on YouTube to keep up with the latest news.”
In India, K-pop culture was restricted among a select audience for a while; however, with the advent of streaming and easy access to content from around the world, Korean-inspired fashion and style have become in huge demand. With a minimalistic approach for daily wear, K style is clean and extremely versatile.
“We see K-fashion becoming one of the trends that’ll slowly create its fan following. It’ll become one of the mainstays for fashionistas and trickle down to masses in no time,” predicts Rohan Shah, founder of a brand selling functional sportswear.
“The great success of the Korean series Squid Game has also added to the already existing paradigm shift in fashion, in terms of tracksuits. The demand for Co-ord tracksuits, leggings and athleisure wear has picked up since the series got a hit in India. It has also become fashionable to wear them during travel and lounging while bingeing on K-dramas.”
Though K-beauty products are relatively new in India, they’ve been in demand worldwide for a while. According to research, the Korean beauty industry saw worldwide sales worth USD 13.1 billion in 2018, with the demand picking up even more since the pandemic.
Some popular K-beauty products in India are Vitamin C serum, Vitamin E mask, sheet masks, face serums, bubble masks and LED therapy masks, which are now available in Indian markets.
Shiwangi Agarwal, Co-founder of a skin care product company, credits the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas for the easy acceptance of K-beauty in India. “The trend’s rising in India as many youngsters are attracted to Korean culture because of its freshness and modernity, which has led to an increased demand for Korean skincare products,” says Shiwangi, who believes that the trend is here to stay and grow given the increasing Korean influence in our music, skincare and food. “Since natural ingredients are also a critical part of the Indian beauty regime, Indians are quite keen to experiment with Korean beauty products.
Korean food and wellness
K-dramas have opened numerous doors for the Korean trade and made a positive impact on Korean brands willing to enter the Indian market. The popularity of the K-lifestyle has extended its charm all over, from K-travel and K-beauty to K-fashion and K-food.
Seo Youngdoo, CEO of Korean cosmetics company, says that in addition to big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, they’ve seen a significant increase in demand for Korean products from tier 2 cities like Chandigarh and Jaipur, and places in UP and the North East such as Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal due to their familiarity with Korean culture and K-Pop.
Surmising the interest owing to their familiarity with Korean culture and K-Pop, Seo Youngdoo says, “With the prominence of Korean culture in India, we’ve noticed an increase in demand for many Korean products among youngsters. For us, K-food and K-beauty have done extraordinarily well. Products like spicy K-ramen noodles, vitamin shower filters, face mask-sheets, bubble mask, and educational toys sell like hotcakes online.”
In fact, as K-food is one of their most popular categories, they’ve even added more food items to their inventory. “Currently, we sell over 10,000 boxes of noodles every month. Also, there is an increase in sales of immune-boosting items such as Korean Ginseng tea, Citron Pulpy, Sweet Ginger Tea Powder, Cissus Extract Powder, and Kimchi seaweed, to name a few,” adds Seo Youngdoo.