By Asiya Shoaib Ismail
It’s something that started rather reluctantly, really. There was this dread attached to somebody forcing me to sit through a 16-episode Korean drama, just because he found the lead girl adorable. Though I was in fits for the very first episode staring at a highly caked-up lead male who looked too effeminate for any girl’s taste, but oddly the first episode ended at this amazing note that I sat through all the 1-hour-long episodes in 2 sittings. This drama was called Heartstrings (넌 내게 반했어/You’ve Fallen For Me).
This was just the start of an immensely severe addiction for everything that is Korean, from the plethora of good music, talented singers and dancers, the well-scripted Korean dramas, as well as the language and the connection I feel to their culture being from Asia, albeit a separate region of the continent.
There is so much talent coming out of that part of the world and I feel as if I am witnessing the rise of a giant in the entertainment industry. It is rather fascinating to explore the global success that many K-pop acts have had in far-flung areas such as South America or the Middle East. Since music does not have any barriers, a great number of people start listening for the good tunes but end up learning the language as well, since it is a rather easy one to pick up due to the limited number of alphabets and phonetic sounds.
Nevertheless, the icing on my Korean cake has to be the K-pop groups or ‘idol groups’ as they are known by their crazed fans. The variety of music offered under the broad title is immense. From large 9-13 member boy and girl groups like 소녀시대/SNSD (Girls’ Generation) and Super Junior, hip hop groups such as Big Bang and 2NE1, R&B singers like Ailee and HyoRin, as well as rock acts the like of 자우림 (Jaurim), F.T. Island and Gate Flowers.
The writer is self-studying the Korean language and Hangul script at the moment and possesses a keen interest in learning as much about the Korean culture as is possible.