It’s Official, Delhi in the Grip of a K-Boom!- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

When 24-year-old Delhiite, Prachi Sharma, got on stage to sing You Are My Everything, a Gummy song from a Korean hit drama, she gave it all she had. It won her the All India K-Pop Contest 2023 in vocals, organised recently by the Korean Cultural Centre in Delhi in partnership with LG Electronics to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Korea. 

Sharma’s introduction to K-pop started with the uber-popular band BTS. Currently, a Masters’s student of Sociology, she was in her first year of college when the boyband captured her attention. “V (Kim Taehyung) is my bias,” she says.

K-pop is quite a craze among young Indians and is the starting point for their general interest in Korean culture because of the similarities, they say, it has with their own culture. “Both countries fought a fraught struggle for independence and encouraged staying together as a family and giving respect to elders. Both countries also have a unique sense of dressing. We love bright colours and so do they,” she says.

Sharma is trained in Indian classical music. In college, she shifted gears and started exploring Western music. She took part in competitions and sang songs in the Spanish and Gaelic languages before taking to Korean music. For the K-Pop finale, her pick of pop singer Park Ji-yeon’s song, (popularly known as Gummy) was actually on Hyunsu’s suggestion. The Korean singer from Voice of Korea had trained the finalists before the finale. “I found it to be perfect for me. It has all the emotional variations that I want in a song. I am glad that the audience enjoyed it too,” she says with a touch of pride.

However, her interest in K-culture is not just restricted to K-Pop.  “I must say that I am a bigger fan of K-Drama than K-Pop,” she reveals. Who is her favourite actor? “Ji Chang Wook, Ahn Hyo Seop, Song Joong Ki are all my favourites,” she says. The last K-Drama she binged on was Moving. She is also a fan of Korean skincare products and swears by prep ampoules and moisturisers, which she buys from a Korean beauty products website.

India’s K-Pop Stars

Hong Ju Jeon, the managing director of LG Electronics India, says the September 16 event was part of a campaign to show that a positive outlook in life and music can uplift the human spirit. “The K-Pop contest gave us an avenue to appreciate some of the rising K-Pop stars in India,” he says.

Jeon’s words will find resonance with Srija Paul, 19, whose mind is set on becoming a K-pop star—in Korea. “I dream of becoming a singer in South Korea and sharing the stage with some brilliant artists,” says the 19-year-old who was the first runner-up at the contest. 

While she is more focused on Korean ballads now, BTS’ Blood, Sweat and Tears was what sparked her interest in Korean culture. She credits the English band One Direction for helping her “find BTS”. The hype around One Direction was at its peak when it got disbanded. “After they disbanded, I shifted to BTS,” she says. Her favourite singers are Paul Kim, Jung Seunghwan and Melomance’s Kim Minseok, “at the moment”.

Paul belongs to a family of musicians – her father is a singer by profession and her mother is a music teacher. But she always knew her passion lay somewhere else. “Somehow, I could never feel that connection to Indian music as I feel towards Korean music. Now my focus is completely on that,” she says with a determined air.

‘When I go to Korea…’

For the K-Pop contest, she performed the song My Sea by Lee Ji-eun, popularly known as IU. She says that the singer-composer resonates with her. “I have won other K-Pop competitions with her songs. She is my lucky charm. Not only do the lyrics of My Sea touch my heart, its music challenges me too. It has quite a few high notes, which was a bit difficult for me,” she explains. An avid language enthusiast, she is a student of English at Amity University, Noida, and is also studying Korean from the Korean Cultural Centre India. 

Apart from the All India K-Pop Contest, she also won the Korean Speech Contest 2023 organised by King Sejong Institute and will be going to South Korea to represent India for the final round in 2023. And she is ready with a list of things she wants to buy. “I have always wondered about the secret behind their beautiful ‘glass skin’. When I go to Korea, I plan on buying a lot of skincare products for myself and my family,” she says. Both finalists are aware that it is difficult to break into the Korean entertainment industry, owing to the tough standards and the huge number of talent present in the country. But they still plan to try.

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