May 15

How Indians perceive Korean music

Written by
Annyeong India

The craze of Korean music has been known to be on rise ever since BTS won the Top Social Artist Award in 2017 Billboard music awards. K-Pop music no doubt has been in India since the past many years but was very much centered or should I say very few people used to listen to it.

The Korean wave started with K-Drama and movies which were very much loved and appreciated by Indian youth in their 20s. K-pop got a big push over the years because of BTS winning the awards.

Thing that introduced K-Pop to Indians 

India suddenly got introduced to the free 4G internet in 2016 and suddenly most of the Indians with smartphones and computers could access Social media like YouTube and Twitter without any charges.


K-pop being on rise and American reaction channels taking Korean and Bollywood music into consideration started a whole new chapter for Indian audiences.

The content produced didn't match the consumption and being a loyal fan base, ARMY ( fanbase of BTS) started recommending songs and videos of BTS.

The whole of America swept away with the Hallyu wave and Indian viewers were no exception.

The second big wave was seen when video sharing platform "Tik-Tok" amidst Covid- Lockdown was introduced to the general public and a large number of audiences those who weren't necessarily introduced through the western pop culture earlier, started noticing the popularity of K-Pop and how it is slowly making its way into Indian music scene as well.

The foremost reason why many Indians, especially youth or teenagers, found this specific genre of music through BTS is because HYBE Co. Ltd. (then BIGHIT) promoted BTS' music through SNS and winning the Top Social Artist Award made a big mark on the Asian representation on American entertainment industry. 

BTS is known for their excellent lyrics, pop and hip hop production with excellent choreography, sweeping western charts and being forefronts of UNICEF's Goodwill ambassador.

They have won the hearts of the young Indian population with their passion for music, art and culture.

History of Boy bands in India and Korea 

There are a lot of cultural differences between the two countries and how the people perceive entertainment as well. Whether it's about talents or privacy of artists.

Bollywood songs are ingrained in our nerves and have been here for almost a century but Indian pop music gained its popularity when Pakistani singers Nazia Hassan and Zohaib, formed a sibling duo whose records, produced by the Indian Biddu, sold as many as 60 million copies in the 1980s.

Similar to which Korean pop music started in 1992 when the trio Seo Taiji and Boys performed "Nan Arayo (I Know)" on South Korea's Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation.

Even though the Korean cinema started in 1945 the Korean music got its stage pretty late but unlike Indian pop the Korean pop scene succeeded in forming its own place in the global music industry.

The big agencies started to release new boy bands with songs breaking home charts one after the other.

Culture of music agencies and boy bands in India 

The Indian general public which used to listen to Coldplay, Linkin Park, Beatles and One Direction were looking for something new and came across a new band from " the east " which sang in a totally different language but with culture similar to their own.

The 21st century is called the century of the East. India and Korea being the forefront leading in the trade/commerce and entertainment industry.

With the lack of representation in foreign media. Younger generations have understood the importance of Asian representation in the global media and instead of seeking western validation, the popularity among the people worldwide through YouTube views, digital sales etc. is considered as the sole validation for acknowledging the popularity and worth of any artist.

It was quite natural for Indian fans to take more pride in it. That might be one of the key reasons behind supporting K-pop.

What I've noticed is that the main essence of any song produced in both Korean and Bollywood industries lies 50% on the cultural inputs and remaining on the meaning and production.

Choose and pick 

India doesn't have a history of boy bands and so the culture of scouting the band members through auditions by then Big 3 music labels SM, YG and JYP were new as well as fascinating to the Indian listeners.

The bands just don't incorporate good singing but also good looks, choreography and fashion to go with the music videos which is a treat for the eyes. For that the members have to go through rigorous training sessions to finally debut as rookies.

Looking at how Bollywood music videos are loved by people across the nation irrespective of whether they understand Hindi or not is due to it's extravagant cultural inputs with colourful music videos and dance moves which depict Indian culture as a whole. 

The concept of pop boy band groups is not new for the female listeners but K hip hop  bands like Big Bang, BTS, Block B etc. became the first to come out fresh. 

Why Korean music sound appealing to the Indian listeners ?

For the fact Indian listeners have their own source of entertainment who love extravagant music videos and are fond of dance. The Korean music seemed close to what they've already seen and heard but with a little more than their expectations.

K beauty and K fashion has what lead many fans to be engrossed in it. The members are close to the fans who feel much informality between them because of the fan service done by the artists.

The songs lyrics are uplifting, melodic and a whole vibe providing a full experience and rewarding for any fan, denoting time and energy on something appealing from all aspects.

Indians reacting to BTS

Over the years of my language learning journey. I've found Indians learning Korean language because it sounds good to their ears. It might be because of the intonation of how the Korean is spoken.

Where it's hard for native English speakers to hear sentences properly. The Korean songs are easy to follow and remember by any Indian listener. 

As we've seen how Korean music videos and lyrics are incorporating traditional hanbok attire, traditional houses and terms. There's a sense of familiarity.

Unfortunately due to language barriers Indians have trouble exploring other genres of music like trot or ballad which carries the charm and essence of Korean culture and society.

It might take a few more years for Indian fans to see their idols performing in their land. But what we're curious to know is for how long this trend of K-pop will stay in India ? Can the popularity of BTS in India be considered as the popularity of K-pop in future ? 

As for now we've seen both the country's government and people are on good terms and taking initiatives for cultural exchanges. Korean pop music might soon become a household name. 



bts, indian music, indians, korean music, kpop, music

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