The Korean wave has finally reached the shores of India and it is creating a sensation that is giving India’s entertainment industry an awakening to the broader spectrum of music and dramas attracting early-adopter, social media-savvy millennials. Korean culture has already garnered a fandom of over 60,000 registered fans according to the Korean Culture Centre in Delhi and a potential audience of over 12 million youth (according to Facebook Ad) but this uber-organized fandom is already alive and well in WhatsApp chat rooms, on Instagram and on Twitter.
It’s not just the millennials who seem hooked on the cutting-edge colorful music videos. Early this year, Indian fans urged film director Karan Johar to seek out
K-Pop group EXO’s Kai at a Gucci show in Paris. Although neither star knew each other, the selfie instantly blew up on Instagram and Twitter across India. Other Bollywood actors (and their children) are also reportedly piqued by South Korea’s music groups with their stunning choreography and dynamic danceable vibes. In February of this year INOX theaters screened a concert film by globally acclaimed K-Pop A-lister BTS on two days in 88 cinemas across the country. K-Pop fans inundated theaters with flash mobs, fan chants and thank you gifts and letters for INOX.
But the big news this month is the upcoming IN2ITXION India tour by acclaimed K-pop group IN2IT with guest star AleXa. IN2IT is comprised of 6 boys selected from an audition process that often takes years of grueling training to win. Alex Christine is under ZanyBros label (ZB) and was winner of both seasons of “Soompi Rising Legends” and participant of Produce48. They will be offering Mumbai denizens a taste of K-Pop at the K-festival organized by the Korea Tourism Organization which will be held at the Phoenix High Street Mall on the 13th and 14th April from 12pm to 8 pm on both days. It is the second event of its kind ever to be held in India to celebrate Korea culture and travel.
IN2IT concerts will be hosted both at INOX IMAX theaters in Mumbai (April 16th) and Delhi (April 18th), a first for India, and also at other venues Ravindra Natya Mandir on 15th April and Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi on 19th April.
The IN2IT members are beyond excited to perform in India. IN2IT Leader 24-year old Inpyo says, “It’s always been our dream to perform in India. We have heard from fans there and we are excited to not just represent ourselves, but also Korea. We are hoping also to meet our fans and to help create new fans so we can come back soon!” Group member Jiahn also says,” Music is a global language. We have been watching Bollywood songs and movies, like ‘Gully Boy,’ and it’s so impressive. We hope that it will also travel back to Korea so we can enjoy more Indian culture as well.”
Namas-K is just in time for what appears to be a tidal wave of South Korean investment into India. Sources say at least USD 10 billion (INR 70 000 Cr) is likely to flow into India as foreign direct investment from South Korean companies in the next 3 to 5 years. With Korean companies well known for sponsoring local Korean cultural events, it is just another sign we can expect much more of the Korean -wave arriving on our shores.
Keiko Bang says, “For too long the Indian fandom has felt left out. I mean how can you say you are going on a global tour and not visit India? We realized there was a strong demand for Korean content and goods but there is a lack of supply and understanding of the marketplace. Koreans want to come out and explore India. They want their stars to come out and perform. They just need to learn how to operate on a more sponsor-driven model instead of high-priced tickets as they do in other countries. India may take time to understand, but it will be worth it in the long run.”
Yogesh Karikurve says, “There are a lot of similarities between Korean and Indian culture. We have a lot of the same values – putting family first, taking care of our parents, but we also love to dance and sing a lot. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” created such an impact, people even danced to it at Indian weddings. We believe other K-pop songs will follow suit. The great thing is, Namas-K is not just about bringing Korea to India, it’s also about bringing Bollywood to Korea as well.”
Namas-K is also partnered with Zany Bros, Korea’s leading music video production company responsible for some of the best K-Pop music videos ever made and currently is producing for Japan and China as well. CEO Mr. Kim jun-Hong says: “We are not just interested in selling Korea to India but learning from this amazing country. We are excited about the prospects of collaboration and even producing music videos one day for the Indian marketplace as well. It’s about creative convergence between the old and the new in an innovative way.”
Namas-K has already landed a major contract for Korean movies and dramas to a leading OTT platform which is the largest historical deal for foreign content ever acquired by an Indian portal. The portal will dub Korean content into major local Indian languages and allow downloads even in Tier-2 markets so that a slower internet won’t interrupt a fan’s K-drama obsession.