When young Manipuri men and women secretly send romantic text messages to each other on their cellphones, they write “No-rul sarang hae” — Korean for “I love you”.
A ban on Hindi films and TV shows by Manipur’s militants has had an unexpected effect. Korean films and soaps have become the new rage, with posters of Korean stars like Gweon Sang-woo, Cha Tae-hyun, Jeon Ji Hyun and Jung Da Bin replacing those of Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai in shops and in homes.
Korean films are popular because they come the closest to Bollywood’s action and drama flicks. They do have English subtitles for the local audience.
Young Manipuris are now using snatches of Korean in their everyday lives. Don’t be surprised if you hear them say “Cho ah hey yo” (I like it) or “Kwen chah nah yo” (It’s okay). “I love using such phrases because our elders won’t know what I’ve written,” says 16-year-old Gary Th.
Current Korean hits in Manipur include My Girl And I, You Are My Sunshine and Wolf’s Temptation, while Korean TV shows on cookery, culture and music are also popular. DVDs of Korean films are smuggled in through the border town of Moreh.