K-Pop, Kimchi and Karnataka: Squid Game has piqued Bengalureans’ interest in Korean culture
From Dalgona to K-pop, business for Korean restaurants in the city is booming
With the recent release of the Netflix original Korean drama Squid Game comes another wave of Bengalureans fostering an interest in Korean culture. And what better way to explore that culture than through its cuisine?
Bengaluru has no end to the number of Korean restaurants that have been cropping up all over the city. With the Himalayan in Koramangala, Arirang in Kammanahalli and the K Fashion Café in Hennur, among a host of many others, interest in Korean cuisine has been booming with the restaurants booming alongside it. Before Squid Game, the 2019 award-winning thriller Parasite initiated a similar wave and prior to that, the increasing amount of interest in Korean pop and television, commonly referred to as K-pop and K-dramas, has been a huge contribution to Bengalureans diving into Korean culture and cuisine, with many teenagers, college students and working professionals alike interested in the country’s cuisine.
“It used to be a lot of Korean and North-Eastern families visiting, but recently the demographic has really changed and I’m surprised,” says Akhil Bhima, the 23-year-old owner of the K Fashion Café. The young restaurateur came into possession of the restaurant after the original owners moved to Korea.
Shubham, a supervisor at Daily Sushi in HSR Layout that specialises in both Japanese and Korean cuisine says, “We have a lot of people, teenagers and families in particular, that visit the restaurant. Business is good and we often have all our tables full with people waiting outside in lines.”
On whether there’s an increase in requests for specific items like dalgona as was featured in the Netflix show, Bhima says, “We have a lot of people coming in after they’ve seen a dish in one of the dramas to ask about them, which is very good but a lot of them come in with the expectation that it looks good not realising it’s fermented and not vegetarian because a lot of Korean food uses oyster sauce or fish oil.” He also mentions a growing trend of people vlogging in the restaurant and misrepresenting a lot of the North-Eastern people working there as Koreans.
Interest in Korean culture has increased over the last few years and is set to increase further, especially with K-pop artistes and bands like BTS skyrocketing in popularity internationally and in India. Hopefully, this means only good things for both fans of Korean culture as well as the number of Korean restaurants