By Faria Bhat and Aalima Qayoom
In May 2021, Momina Amin, a college student, started to watch a Korean show,“So I Married an Anti-fan” after coming across an Instagram reel related to it.
“I thought the Instagram clip was quite interesting, so I decided to watch the entire show. Earlier, I was a fan of Pakistani dramas, but watching Korean shows made me a huge admirer of their content. The shows are much better than the ones I used to watch earlier as they consist of gripping storyline, diverse genres and interesting development of characters,” she said.
Momina’s fondness for Korean dramas is a result of Hallyu, or what is sometimes referred to as the Korean wave. The term “Korean wave” describes the increasing popularity of Korean culture around the globe which encompasses Korean pop music, dramas, movies, food and skincare etc.
Korean Wave, which first spread to China and Japan, later to Southeast Asia and other countries worldwide has now managed to dig its claws in the Kashmir Valley.
K-pop, a stress-buster for youngsters
Kashmir’s K-pop obsession is very evident. Whether it is youngsters sporting K-pop t-shirts or emulating Korean pop stars’ styles or the popularity of BTS, Black Pink and Stray Kids in Kashmir; the wave is unmissable here. In Srinagar, many stores are flooded with K-pop stationery items like pens, notebooks, bags as well hinting towards a growing fan base that is going gung-ho over Korean merchandise.
Aniquah Shaheen, a student at Cluster University, Srinagar, a BTS fan, believes that Korean Pop culture is giving youngsters in Kashmir a fresh hope and connection, having lost it in the past few years due to Kashmir’s political situation as well as the distress that Covid brought along with it.
BTS has songs which talk about anxiety and depression which afford consolation to youngsters in Kashmir who want relief and want to relate with youngsters all over the world.
“BTS is a famous South-Korean music band consisting of seven members. Their songs are filled with persuasive and uplifting messages. Their songs not only motivate us to practise self-love but also inspire us to acknowledge our negative feelings as well,” Aniqah said.
K-Dramas, fresh plot lines for entertainment savvy youngsters
Toyyibah, a college student, is a fan of Korean shows.
“I enjoy watching Korean shows because they are unique and have amazing storylines. You might have never heard about a love story between a 940-year-old immortal Goblin and her young bride which is the plot of the famous Korean show Goblin: The Lonely and Great God. Isn’t it interesting that ghosts run a hotel to cater to ghosts exclusively?” she said.
Korean shows have persuaded Momina and Toyyibah to learn the Korean language. Momina is learning Korean from the Duolingo application although she believes that Korean shows are more helpful for learning the language than the app.
Korean food fancy in Kashmir
Young people in Kashmir are also becoming increasingly fond of Korean cuisine. Korean food has its own sections in some supermarkets in Srinagar like Pick N Choose, located in Lal Chowk and The Basket, located in Nishat. Their shelves are filled with Korean noodles popularly known as Ramyun, Korean cup noodles, and other Korean snacks.
“Korean noodles are in great demand. The top sold items are Buldak, Carabonara , Green Carabonara, and 2x 3x spicy noodles. The majority of people who buy these noodles are youngsters, especially above the age-group of 14,” said a salesperson of The Basket, Nishat.
Korean fashion taking over streets and campuses
In Kashmir, the trend of wearing baggy clothes is escalating among the younger generation. Aniqauh said, “I really like Korean fashion since it seems so casual yet stylish. Additionally, it is youthful and trendy”. Momina is not a big fan of the latest Korean fashion, but she loves traditional Korean attire, “Hanbok,” and it’s her dream to wear this dress once in her life.
Many youngsters here desire to dress up like their Korean idols. Consequently, young boys and girls are seen wearing Korean-style baggy T-shirts and jeans. It might be a serious concern because the younger generation, who is not perfectly knowledgeable about the Kashmiri culture, is inclined to follow a culture that is not even their own.
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