Impact of Korean Channels on Manipuri Youth

Dr. Ganesh Sethi*
Naorem Nishikanta Singh**


Entertainment is one of the vital parts of life without which the meaning of life will always be incomplete. It enhances the productivity of life and the entire population of the world transcends boundaries to grasp the treasure of entertainment. The music, songs, films, dramas, plays and many other forms impart entertainment and it is for the individual to consume it according to his or her choice. Among the sources of entertainment the most acceptable are films and music. For decades we have been talking about Western culture and its invasion of other continents through music, movies and TV channels. But nothing lasts forever. The developing countries and their entertainment output start to penetrate the world entertainment scenario. The Korean Wave holds a strong position on this platform.

Korean Wave

Korean Wave refers to the increasing popularity of South Korean culture at the end of 20th century. The term was originally coined in mid 1999 by China’s Beijing Youth Daily and the journalists who were upset by China’s invasion by South Korean culture. They referred to this new phenomenon as “Hánliú”. The Korean Wave, or Hanryu, is made up of two root words – han refers to a quality or state of being Korean while liu or ryu means “flow”. Both words can be combined to form the compound word Hanryu, usually romanized as Hallyu, which literally means “the flow and spread of Korea” and is translated in Indo-European languages as the Korean Wave.

The Korean Wave is based on many different aspects of South Korean culture, such as:

  • Cuisine
  • Language
  • Dramas, or “K-dramas”
  • Animated comics and films
  • Popular music, also known as “K-pop”
  • Technology, including smartphone and automobiles

Many commentators consider the cultural influences originating from the mostly popular culture of South Korea, but also traditional Korean culture in its entirety, as part of the Korean Wave. The American political scientist Joseph Nye interprets the Korean Wave as “the growing popularity of all things Korean, from fashion and films to music and cuisine.”

It began with South Korean TV dramas broadcast across China and Southeast Asia. Then the Korean Wave developed into a global phenomenon due to the incursion of Korean pop (K-pop) music videos on YouTube followed by movies and games. Currently, the spread of the Korean Wave to other regions of the world is most visibly seen among teenagers and young adults in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, the immigrant enclaves of the Western world and Northeast India. The government of South Korea is now using the Korean Wave as a tool for its soft power after the growing acceptance of the South Korean pop culture and forms of entertainment in the outside world.

Korean Channels

In South Korea, there are numbers of national television networks, the four largest of which are KBS, SBS, Arirang and MBC. And most of the major television studios are located on Yeouido. South Korea became the third country in Asia when television broadcasting began on 12 May 1956 with the opening of HLKZ-TV, a commercially operated television station. Important genres of television shows include serial dramas, historical dramas, variety shows, game shows, news programs and documentaries. All these four networks have produced increasingly lavish historical dramas in recent years. Some South Korean television programs are available on satellite and multicultural channels in North America. Korean television dramas have become widely popular in other East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, with whole sets of videotapes or DVDs of series available, complete with different language subtitles. Shopping channels have become quite popular in recent years as well, and the models sometimes put on entertaining acts during product pitches.

Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) began as Kyeongseong Broadcasting Corporation (radio broadcasting) established by the Governor-General of Korea in 1927. After serving the nation for 20 years, the radio was renamed Seoul Central Broadcasting Station in 1948. Television broadcasts began on December 31, 1961 with the launch of KBS 1TV originally known as KBS-TV. In 1973 the KBS station status was changed from government to public broadcasting. The other public broadcasters like Tongyang Broadcasting Company (TBC), Dong-A Broadcasting System (DBS) and other private commercial radio and television stations were forced to merge with KBS by Chun Doo-hwan regime. After the merger with TBC and DBS, the KBS changed these channels to KBS Radio 2 (AM/FM), KBS 2TV, KBS 3 TV in 1980. KBS 1TV airs news, current affairs, education, sports and culture but carries no commercials. This channel also shows public information films made by KBS and entertainment programmes. KBS 2 TV airs entertainment and drama only. KBS 1TV and KBS 2 TV phased out analogue services on December 31, 2012 as part of the switchover to digital television.

KBS N is a subsidiary company of KBS which manages and operates the 100+ cable operators in South Korea and its sole satellite television service provider, Skylife. The company regulates the different KBS Channels like:

KBS Prime – Launched in 1995 as KBS satellite 2, which airs culture and drama

KBS Drama – Launched in 2002 as KBD Sky Drama

KBS Joy – Launched in 2006, airs comedy and quiz show

KBS Kids – Children’s channel launched in 2012

KBS W – Women’s channel launched in 2013

Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) is a national South Korean television and radio network. It is the only private commercial broadcaster with wide regional network affiliates to operate in the country. In March 2000, the company legally came to be called SBS, changing its corporate name from Seoul Broadcasting System. It has provided terrestrial digital TV service in the ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) format since 2001, and T-DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) service since 2005. Its flagship terrestrial television station is Channel 6 for Digital and Cable. SBS was launched and formed on the day MBC celebrated its 30th anniversary on October 9, 1991. SBS is the second commercial broadcaster in South Korea after MBC. The purpose was to become an attractive and alternative channel to the audience that before 1990 was served by MBC. SBS began trial transmission of its television and radio channels on December 1, 1990 in Seoul.

Arirang TV (founded in 1996) is an international English-language network based in Seoul, South Korea. It is operated by the Korea International Broadcasting Foundation. The channel presents programs (including cultural features, educational shows, documentaries and language programs) designed to give viewers a contemporary, accurate look at Korea, Asia and the world. The network’s name, “Arirang”, is derived from the traditional Korean folk song of the same name. Arirang broadcasts three channels: Arirang World, Arirang Korea and Arirang Arab. The network offers subtitles in a number of languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Spanish. On March 3, 2008, Arirang TV added three more languages: Russian, Vietnamese and Indonesian. The network is free-to-air in much of Europe (except Finland), North America, Asia (except Korea), Australia and the Pacific region via several TV satellites.

After School Club is the Live Music Request show for K-Pop fans all around the world. On their weekly live show, people can join video chat sessions through Google Hangouts, send them tweets, and share status and comments on Facebook. Connect directly with their hosts Hanbyul and Eric Nam, as well as their awesome guests.

Showbiz Extra, an entertainment program that aired its first episode in 2002 and kept its viewers all over the world up to date on the latest news about Korean celebrities and the entertainment industry, has been re-invented as ‘Showbiz Korea’. The sub-programmes are:

Showbiz Today – Delivers daily updates on the hottest and the latest issues in the Korean entertainment industry.

Star Vs Star – Competition among stars, difference and similarities among them.

Star & Music -About artists and the popular soundtracks they sing.

In Style – Zooms in on the celebrities’ fashion styles and how they take care of themselves. Also check out the popular filming locations where the stars’ acting stood out.

Cine-zoom – Details on the latest and upcoming film releases.

Star Ranking – Attractive qualities of stars and their position in public choice.

On Scene – Takes you to the drama filming sets, press conferences, showcases, fan meets and anywhere else

Stars up Close – Details from their early debut days to where they are now

Pops in Seoul is the most popular music program on Arirang TV that has played the K-pop songs for the past 15 years since it began airing in 1998. As the No. 1 source of K-pop music that is creating a sensation worldwide, Pops in Seoul aims to support the domestic musicians’ activities abroad and keep its overseas viewers up-to-date with the latest singles and K-pop news. Sub-programmes are K-Pops 20, K-Pop 24/7, K-PoPulous, Hot Clips and New Secret Box. Although government-affiliated, Arirang retains independent programming rights. The network airs programme about other countries, for culturally diverse contents including global cuisines on culinary shows.

Gangwon No.1 Broadcasting or G1 is a Radio and TV station in Gangwon Province, affiliated with the SBS Network. It broadcasts entertainment and informative programs. SBS dramas have been a part of the “Korean Wave”, exported to many countries across the world. Sandglass has one of the highest viewership ratings in South Korea, and is considered the path-breaking drama of the network. Other dramas that have enjoyed high viewership include Lovers in Paris, Trap of Youth, Brilliant Legacy, Rustic Period, and Temptation of a Wife. SBS airs a variety of entertainment programs ranging from informational, comedy, music, reality, talk shows, and auditions. Many programs are popular throughout Asia, including X-Man, Family Outing, Running Man, The Music Trend, and many more. SBS documentaries encompass a wide range of issues, from foreign affairs to the environment.

Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) or the Cultural Broadcasting Corporation is one of the four major national South Korean television and radio networks, and is the oldest among all commercial broadcasting networks in South Korea. Munhwa is the Korean word for “culture”. Its flagship terrestrial television station is Channel 11 (LCN). Twice government owned, the network is managed by the Foundation of Broadcast Culture (which owns 70% of the company’s stock), while the Jung-Su Scholarship Foundation owns 30%. MBC receives no government subsidy, and derives its income almost entirely from commercial advertising. It has 19 regional stations, and 10 subsidiaries. The network evolved from Busan Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, the first private broadcasting corporation in the country. As of 2011, MBC has over 4,000 employees. It has provided terrestrial digital TV service in the ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) format since 2001, and T-DMB (Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) service since 2005.This National TV network was founded in 1969. The genres telecast by this channel are drama, entertainment, current affairs and documentaries, and news and sports.

Public Broadcasting Channels

Name Launch Genre Slogan
KBS TV1 October 1, 1961 News & Sport Korea’s 24 Hour News Channel
KBS TV2 December 1, 1980 Variety & Entertainment The Youth Channel
MBC TV August 1 1969 News & Entertainment The Power of Broadcasting (2001-2011)
SBS March 20, 1991 Culture, Drama, Reality Show Good Friend of MBC (2011-Present)
Arirang April 10 1996 Live Show & Entertainment Korea’s Global TVKorea’s Multilingual TV

Your Everything Solutions

Growing Green

Asia’s Heartbeat

Beginning of Korean Invasion

In 1994, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture set up a cultural bureau to develop its media sector. The Asian financial crisis triggered a turning point for the business conglomerates. They shifted their focus away from manufacturing sector to the entertainment sector three years later. In 1999, the first big budget film Shiri was released and became a major commercial success in South Korea. The spread of Korean popular culture began with the broadcast of several Korean TV dramas in China in 1999. A few months later in February 2000, another incident that boosts the Korean culture throughout China was the overseas performance of boy-band H.O.T., a K- pop music artist, in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

At the beginning of the 21st century, other South-East Asian countries also experienced a growth in the popularity of Korean dramas and pop-songs. For instance, K-Pop singer BoA’s album Listen to My Heart became the first album by a Korean musician to sell a million copies in Japan in 2000. Teenagers and young adults from all over the world were much more receptive to K-pop bands such as Big Bang and Super Junior, both of whom have managed to attract a huge number of fans from South America, parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and to a smaller extent, the Western world. In the US, the spread of Korean pop culture remained confined to immigrant hubs where large numbers of Korean Americans reside, such as Los Angeles and New York City.

In 2002, the Korean drama “Winter Sonata” became the first of its kind to equal the success of “Meteor Garden”, a Taiwanese drama adapted from the Japanese manga series, Boys over Flowers. Actually, the Korean dramas are the adaptation of either Japanese or Taiwanese melodramas. Since the release of other K-dramas, such as Full House, Stairway to Heaven and Dae Jang Geum etc. in 2002, television programming trends in Southeast Asia began to undergo a drastic change as TV serials from South Korea filled the prime time slot originally reserved for Hollywood movies. Meanwhile, the popularity of Korean TV dramas continued to spread across the Asian continent, with many Korean male actors portrayed as sweet, romantic, sensitive but also “totally ripped” and good looking. In the Indian state of Manipur where projecting Bollywood movies have been banned, since 2001, it is common for Korean language phrases such as sarang-haeyo (I love you), and annyeong-haseyo (Hello), to be heard in everyday conversation in the school yards, street and market places of Manipur. These days 81% of Manipuri teenagers can speak at least one sentence in the Korean language.

Over in the West, the spread of the Hallyu-wave caught on after the widespread proliferation of social media networks, especially YouTube, had found its place in everyday life. By the end of 2011, the total number of YouTube viewers generated by K-pop videos had surpassed the one billion mark, way ahead of the 800 million in the previous year which was spurred by huge growths in Europe and the Middle East. The Korean Wave gradually stormed the greater part of France, UK, US after great success achieved in China and Japan. On 30th October 2012, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a speech in front of the National Assembly of South Korea where he noted how Korean culture and the Hallyu-wave are “making its mark on the world”.

Success of Korean Wave

This portion briefly explains how the Korean culture invasion conquered different countries as well as the factor behind it. Later the author would use it for analyzing its effect on the Manipur youth.

  • The first stage was of only watching TV dramas/movies and listen to music, for instance, from Egypt, Russia and Mexico.
  • In the next stage, it is buying from Taiwan and Hong Kong the products that relate to Korean pop culture such as poster, tours, DVDs etc.
  • The third stage is buying of Korean products from the country of origin, for example, China, Vietnam.
  • The last stage is developing preference for Korean culture.

One of the most successful Korean TV dramas was, “Jewel in the Palace”. It portrayed Korean traditional food knowledge, way of life and nationalism. After studio where this drama was shot was turned into a famous tourist destination, showing the royal kitchen, the costumes and accessories of the actors used in the popular drama.

The Korean fever has strongly impacted the Chinese youth, who constituted around 70% of the total audience. They tried to imitate Korean hairstyle, fashion and lifestyle. Vietnam, Brunei, Thailand and Japan had also been conquered by Korean Wave through Korean TV drama after the successive victory of “Winter Sonata”, “Jewel in the Palace” and “Autumn in my Heart”. And recently we have heard about Psy’s “Gangnam Style” which went viral throughout the world.

Korean Wave in Northeast India and Manipur

After boarder trade was opened in 1994 between Myanmar and India at Moreh, a Manipur town on the border with Myanmar, the first wave of goods which flooded the markets of Imphal was a series of Korean films, TV serials and dramas. The ban on Hindi movies in Manipur helped the rise of Korean culture in the state. In July 2006, Korean Drama Emperor of the Sea was introduced for first time by the national broadcaster DD-1, followed by Jewel in the Palace in September the same year. However, the most striking and powerful manifestation of Hallyu could be seen in the Northeast states of India, particularly in Manipur. In the age of globalization, information revolution and communication dispersal, Korean cultural products are a big hit in the state.

Korean star, Jeong Seok, 35, felt completely at home when he came to Imphal to take part in a food festival, wrote Anjulika Thingnam in her article ‘Soap, songs, stars: Manipur’s Korea wave.’ Further the article says that Pai Hyee Jou, a Korean painter, was stunned when Mapui, a young Manipuri girl, addressed her in fluent Korean. From dress to hairstyles and language to hair cut youths of Imphal are a diehard fan of the Korean style. Anything Korean is hugely popular with both sexes of Manipuri youth and the Korean culture has deep roots in the life of the Manipuris now. India’s Look East policy (trade between South-East Asian countries and India through Manipur) also helped in the storming of pirated CDs and DVDs of Korean films, serials and Video albums flooding the streets of Manipur and other Northeastern states.


In this study, researchers had done a survey in Imphal area and collected data from 110 respondents (15yrs-25yrs) among whom 75 respondents are 21- 25 years old and 35 are 15 – 20 yearrs old. The data shows that 50% of the respondents have access to radio, TV/cable TV and newspapers and only 5.5% have access to computer/internet. It clearly shows that half the teenage population now uses media for education, entertainment and information and further that 72.72% access the media daily and 50% of the respondents access the media for at least four hours a day.

Fig: Duration of media consumption a day

Entertainment is one of the aspects of media in which films hold a prominent position. The Hollywood, Bollywood and Korean films are being enjoyed by the Manipuri youths and adults in addition to Manipuri films. In this survey it was found that 36.36% respondents enjoy all the above mentioned genres of films and 22.7% of the respondents are keenly fond of Korean films. Regarding the TV serials (soap operas), 13.63% respondents watch only Korean serials while 36% watch both Indian and Korean serials. The analysis shows that among the younger generation, 81.2% prefer films, either Hollywood, Bollywood or Korean Films, rather than TV serials.

Fig: Preference of Korean entertainers

Further, the study shows that 46% of anipuri youth like Korean films more than Korean serials because film storis can be understood instantly from actions in the films. Whereas the serials are time consuming and require regular watching to understand the story for which language is a barrier. While enjoying Korean films, 59% of the respondents revealed that language is not a barrier and they enjoy watching Korean Channels at least one hour a day. Among the Korean TV serials “Boys Before Flower” is the most preferred one, followed by “Full House”, “My Girl” and “Stairway to Heaven.” Korean serials are, now a days, the choice of women in Manipuri society and at least 2/3 members in a family love to watch them. Only a few of the Manipuri youths had the chance to watch Korean channels a decade back through Satellite TV but since 2010 half of the youth had the opportunity to enjoy the flavour of Korean channels.

The most preferred Korean Channel of the Manipuri youth is Arirang followed by KBS and some of the youth prefer SBS and MBC. The most popular Korean actors are Bi (Rain), Lee Min Ho and Kim Bum and amongst actress most favourite is Jang Nara and Song Hye Kyo. It is because of their hairstyle, cool looks and dressing designs that about 73% of the youth find the Korean programmes appealing. Some in the society feel proximity to Korean traditions and cultural ethnicity. Although 68% of the Manipuri youth is unaware of the Korean culture and traditions, some 40% of them like to be looked as Koreans. Among the reasons behind this is their hairstyle, simplicity (in serials), way of dressing, complexion and cuteness. And those who know their culture, they like it. Among the Manipuri youths, 55% know well their foot habits and like it as well. They need money and extra efforts to ape Koreans but one fifth of the youth do that and they have to spend above Rs.500 a month on it. Every four in ten families buy at least two CDs/DVDs of Korean films/serials. It can be proudly said that the number of youths being tattooed with Korean script in the Manipuri society is negligible, according to the survey.

Fig: Wish to visit Korea

The above pie chart shows that maximum of our youngster dream of visiting South Korea but 64% of them do not want to settle there forever. The saying that Home sweet home, there is no place like home is found to be true in this study, but more than half of Manipuri youths want to learn Korean language to know more and enjoy more the Korean entertainment programmes.


The impact of Korean culture and tradition through the entertainment channels invading our society is strong and penetrating. Like the Southeast Asian Countries, the Northeast India, especially Manipur, is transforming its native culture and tradition slowly and gradually towards Korean. But we are not completely infected by this lethal viral wave and still have time to keep it at a safe distance if we are determined. The study shows how easy it is for our society to be influenced by this foreign wave. The Korean cultural invasion has been successful because of the hospitality, healthy life, good manners, show of respect and the Mongoloid looks.



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