Despite being a part of India, the northern state of Manipur can culturally be described as Korean. Ever since local authorities banned Bollywood movies and Hindi TV channels in a bid to “stamp out Indianisation”, a vast majority of the local population have turned to Korean pop-culture. They are now big fans of Korean films and music, and have adopted various elements of Korean culture.
It all started with Airarang TV, a 24-hour network from Seoul, being broadcast in Manipur. As the channel grew in popularity, so did the demand for more programming from Korea. It wasn’t long before Korean cinema caught on as well, with pirated DVDs flooding Manipur’s markets.
To understand the Manipuri fascination with Korean pop culture, it make sense to first look at why the ban on Indian cinema was imposed in the first place. “Since the late ’90s, the people of Manipur are facing a cultural forbiddance imposed by a radical, fringe institution in the name of preserving the local culture,” writes Mahitha Kasireddi, in an opinion piece in the Indian online publication, Youth Ki Awaaz.