New festival gives Mumbaikars a peak into Korea

Dec 21, 2017, 09:25 IST | Shunashir Sen

From K-pop to taekwondo, a new festival will give Mumbaikars a window into Korean culture

The Korean Cultural Festival (KCF) is one way in which the oscillation of soft power takes place between India and the Southeast Asian nation. "We have lots of economic tie-ups, but cultural relations help us reach diverse members of society here, and the hearts and minds of Indians," says Ravindra Swami from the Korean Consulate in Mumbai, the event's organisers. With that in mind, the programme includes various types of performance arts that offer a glimpse into the country's cultural traditions, some of which aren't always easily accessible. For instance, Sinbatnolee is a folk song that doesn't even show up on the Internet. But the Mumbai audience can hear it played live with indigenous instruments at KCF.

A dance form from Korea
A dance form from Korea

There will also be bands performing the OSTs of popular Korean dramas, as well as classical music shows, dance recitals and taekwondo displays where experts will showcase what it takes to master a head-high roundhouse kick and break wooden boards, for instance. Plus, the members of a Facebook group called India Korea Friends Mumbai (IKFM) will stage a live K-pop performance. This is a significant indicator of how far mainstream Korean music is making its voice heard here. The number of fans, in fact, has seen a steady ascendancy over the years. Orlinda Fernandes, one of the three people who run IKFM, informs us, "When I became a fan of the genre in 2009, the main Facebook group was a Delhi-based one that only had 200 members. Within a span of two years, however, that strength grew to more than 11,000. But the thing is, the presence of K-pop has been there in the northeast for a long time. They have been heavily into Korean dramas and music there since the early 2000s, and it slowly started proliferating into the mainland a little later."

A Korean musical routine
A Korean musical routine

Consequently, India became one of the destinations for the auditions of a global K-pop competition, which led to big-draw bands like Lucente being flown down to perform here and a further spike in the fan figures. A part of the curation at KCF is definitely designed to attract this younger crowd. But Fernandes says that the festival also ensures that there's something for everyone, adding, "When an orchestra was brought down a few years ago, it was mainly an older generation of people who enjoyed that performance, and we have similar shows this year."

An Indian crew dancing to K-pop hits. Pic/Leona Michyari from IKFM
An Indian crew dancing to K-pop hits. Pic/Leona Michyari from IKFM

She continues, "A cultural festival by itself is actually an amazing experience. The dances using fans, for example, are mind-blowing and you have to see it yourself to believe some of the stuff."

A traditional performance using drums
A traditional performance using drums

Swami adds, "A couple of months ago, a Korean naval ship had docked in Mumbai and the crew performed dances and taekwondo moves for Indian officers at a hall in Navy Nagar. Now, Indian Navy officers are usually really disciplined people. But they ended up having so much fun that night that they started dancing in the aisles, and that's exactly what we are hoping happens with the KCF audience."

ON: Tonight, 7 pm to 9 pm
AT: Nehru Centre, Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli.
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