The administrators of the India Korea Friends Mumbai (IKFM) talk all things Korean at a plush Bandra coffee shop where they hold meetings twice a month. "Oppa Gangnam Style is a very small part of the Korean pop music scene; Psy has made K-pop global but there are better musicians than him and much better songs," they say in agreement.
The K-pop fan club is growing at a considerable rate in India with at least 10,000 fans from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Dimapur. The president of IKFM, Orlinda Fernandes, a fashion designer by profession, said that there are more than 200 fans in the western zone which includes Gujarat and the city Pune. "IKFM has 80 per cent women fans. We mostly have students and our youngest member is a 15-year-old. We screen each and every person before we add them to our facebook and whatsapp groups. We ask them questions and see their profiles, only then are they accepted," she said as many of them just want to join because they liked Oppa Gangnam Style.
IKFM organises fan club meetings every month where they swoon over Leeteuk, the leader of Super Junior band who just completed his military training and exchange saucy gossip about Kim Hyun Joong, former member of SS501 who allegedly beat his girlfriend. The admins keep their pages and groups active with regular contests, give-aways and events. Siddhi Pathrudu and Asma Sheikh are stage co-ordinators and admins who keep in touch with all members and wish to become translators.
"Every Korean drama, movie, music video or song has a concept. Every single prop has a reason to be there. Korean pop is a pop revolution. The bands use Konglish, which is a mix of Korean and English. Koreans don't have the f and r sounds, so a roof becomes a loof and coffee becomes copphee," explained Asma, a 17-year-old Chembur resident.
Korean art and culture are very distinct and the IKFM thinks they really need to bust some stereotypical myths. "The biggest band in Korea is Super Junior, also known as SuJu. The band SHINee comes thereafter. There is a girl band called Wonder Girl that sings English songs. There are Korean TV channels in India called KBS world on Reliance and Ari Reng on Videocon. Also, when we talk about Korea, we definitely mean South Korea and it is not Japanese or ching-chong. We find it embarrassing," said Siddhi who is doing her MA in English literature.
Admins Nishi Mhapankar, a graphic designer, and vice-president Poorva Arole prepared fan art and props for the finals of K-pop festival India-2014 held in Delhi on August 29. Famed Korean band N-Sonic performed their latest songs and judged the event. Mumbaikar Jeet Dasgupta was the second runner up.
"It all began a year ago when we met each other on the national facebook IKFG group. We came together to form the Mumbai group and we add 15 fans after every event. By the end of this year we hope to add 300 members," hopes Orlinda who is in-charge of arranging everything.
The Korean consulate provided them with books to learn the language and is impressed with how fast they've picked it up. Although the admins wish they had a tutor or classes in Mumbai.
Not just in India, this fan club has made waves in Korea as well. They were interviewed by the Korean Trader Organisation for their documentary on K-pop fans around the world and by Korean National Museum too. They are very excited and confident about the upcoming competition and will cheer the participants with their very own battle cry 'H-waiting' or in simple English 'fighting.'
Top 6 K-Pop songs of all time
Song ----- Band
1. Empty – Winner
2. Her - Block B
3. Beautiful - Park Boram
4. Touch my body – Sistar
5. I'm in Love – Secret
6. Sorry Sorry- Super Junior
Top 5 K-pop bands
1. Super Junior
2. Big Bang
3. SNSD a.k.a Girls Generation