K-pop and ‘K-drama’ are the latest craze for young Indians. “Anything K is now in fashion in India. When you talk of this trend, you have to understand that it is not limited to just Korean culture, the craze for Japanese culture is equally strong,” says Sanjeev K Ahuja, promoter of Asian Community News, a platform that works closely with the East Asian community in India.
According to data portal Statista over 10,000 Japanese live in India. And the number is rising. There has also been a recent bulge in the flow of Korean expatriates.
While many of the expats live in the southern states of the country, the national capital region of Gurugram is rapidly becoming the most favoured destination for them. And why not?
About 10 years ago, Japanese or Korean restaurants and grocers in this millennium city would be marked as there were few. Today, you walk into any shopping mall and you will find multiple restaurants and grocery stores owned by expats catering only to the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese.
Aeryoun Jeon, a South Korean who has made Gurugram her adopted home, runs three grocery stores, Epicure, in the millennium city. Jeon’s stores are doing brisk business, her customers comprising expats including South Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. Many of these stores even stock up the unique crockeries that East Asian expats use.
“I have customers from Korea, Japan and many other countries,” Jeon told IndiaNarrative.com. However, she added that Indian customers frequent her stores too. “We have many Indian customers at our stores too who buy their provisions and daily needs from us,” one of the staff members added.
The grocery stores not only stock up just dry provisions including sushi rice, noodles, sauces et all but also various kinds of meats and fish items.
“Demand is rising and that is not difficult to understand as one can see the number of stores and restaurants that are opening everyday,” a senior executive at a Korean multinational said.
Besides, these, other grocers too have adequate stock of provisions for the Southeast and East Asian expats.
However, other cities too need to alter their social and cultural dynamics to be able to offer an easy life to them so that they can integrate with the local system.
“Staying in tough conditions in various Indian cities, the Korean expat community expects India to strengthen its infrastructure and make available better avenues with quality education, entertainment, sports, and also do better on the index of quality living and ease of doing business,” the ACN in a report said.
“Koreans very well realize that the next opportunity lies in India, even though life here is still tough. We know that big opportunities are coming up in India in the next 10 years. Even if life is not comfortable here, we have to come to India now, develop business here as this is the right time,” ACN quoted Euy Don Park, the President of the Korean Association in India as saying.
As India gears up to lay the red carpet for investors, it is imperative to create a conducive environment for the expats to feel at home. This would mean providing them access to both hard and soft infrastructure which includes roads, schools with international syllabus. Shopping establishments which sell products required by the people from these countries are equally important.