India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
November 13, 2018

What It’s Like To Be A K-pop Fan In India

Text and Styling by Ojas Kolvankar. Photographs by Debarati Sanyal. Hair and make-up by Anuradha Raman

K-pop fan Madhu Gudi chats with Ojas Kolvankar about her favourite music, fashion and beauty trends, offering us a window into the culture’s growing fandom in the country

Tell us about your first brush with the world of K-pop.
Back in 2014, the theme music of an anime series introduced me to Korean artists and my interest in K-pop took off from there. It soon expanded to other shows and various genres of music from South Korea.

To what extent does it influence your wardrobe?
The culture is definitely a big contributor to my personal taste in fashion, especially their artistes’ street style. It’s comfortable yet chic; unique but also accessible.

Who are some of your favourite K-pop artists? Who are your style inspirations or icons from there?
I admire boy bands such as EXO and the Bangtan Boys, more popularly known as BTS; South Korean girl groups like Red Velvet and Blackpink, CLC and independent artistes like HyunA, CL and Sunmi. Their styles are distinctive through how they carry themselves and the interesting ways in which they combine outfits and accessories. There’s so much to learn. Of course, it’s fun to blend in your own personal style too!

What are some of your prized K-pop possessions?
An autographed album from SHINee — which I won in an online contest back in 2014. Not only is it highly significant because SHINee was one of the famous music bands then, but also because it’s a precious memory of Kim Jong-hyun, a member of SHINee, who’s no more.

Where do you procure items to recreate popular looks from these artistes, on a budget?
I mainly shop from e-commerce websites such as Koovs, Shein and Jabong. If you pair it right, you can make it work!

Can you share the challenges of acquiring such merchandise in India?
It depends largely on what you’re buying. There are many merchants who take bulk orders and help with the logistics of ordering and delivering the merchandise to you, but the biggest peeve is delivery times and shipping costs. Local vendors and websites like Amazon and Flipkart don’t have official merchandise readily available, making it an expensive affair.

Your favourite beauty looks from a K-pop artist that you love?
I love the singer HyunA’s aesthetic. Her make-up artist is quite talented when it comes to experimenting with looks, while retaining the distinctive Korean vibe.

Which albums are you currently listening to?
I have been listening to a lot of NCT and Monsta X lately, as well as RnB/Hip-hop artistes such as Loco, Jay Park and Heize.

A current K-pop trend that you’ve put your own twist on….
Chokers for sure, and oversized clothing. I have a strong affinity towards the colours red and black. The latter contributes to 90 per cent of my wardrobe. I also prefer androgynous clothing over feminine styles.

What are your views on the emerging K-pop community in India?
I think passion towards any interest is an admirable trait, and I love the fact that we have a good community where we try and explain to people why K-pop isn’t some “exotic” hobby — not that there’s anything wrong with that being the initial pull. I believe music transcends language barriers and has the ability to bring people together. In today’s global world, the key is to have an open mind, and practice love and acceptance that transcend physical barriers.

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