Political relations between Bangladesh and South Korea began in 1973. Since then, the two countries have developed a close and cooperative relationship, with regular exchange of high-level visits and political consultations. Economic ties between the two countries have also grown significantly over the years. However, one of the most visible ways that Korean culture has influenced Bangladesh is through the popularity of Korean pop music and Korean dramas. These have gained a large following in Bangladesh and have contributed to the spread of Korean culture and language in the country. There are also many fan clubs and communities in Bangladesh dedicated to K-pop and K-dramas, which provide a platform for fans to discuss and share their love for K-entertainment. It has become such an influence that a Bangladeshi, Kashfia Arif, has chosen K-pop as her thesis topic.

On 27 December, Korean ambassador Lee Jang-Keun invited 29 young Bangladeshi K-culture lovers to a friendly dinner entitled, ‘Evening with Young Bangladesh K-Culture Lovers,’ at his residence. The main reason of this meet was to thank people who promote Korean culture in their field of work and strengthen the bonding between the two countries. In his welcome speech, the ambassador remarked that K-culture fans are one of the main reasons of Korea-Bangladesh friendship. Senior officials of the embassy were present.

Ambassador Lee Jang-Keun expressed his appreciation towards everyone who made efforts to promote K-culture in Bangladesh. After that, he showcased the efforts in front of everyone. From the Korean craze in Bangladesh to articles, everything was screened.

The guests at the event included famous personalities like Korean Bhai, Ridy Sheikh, Shefa Tabassum, Taufiq Tamim, founders of BD K-family (Saiful Islam, Tashnuva Zahan and Tina Zahan), journalists, students from Dhaka University, Independent University (IUB), American International University (AIUB); along with trainee volunteers from Korea International Cooperation Agency- COICA. Anamika Das, a student of Dhaka University, said that, “I got to know about BTS in 2017 through my best friend Papiya. I was so interested in them that slowly we started making dance covers of K-pop songs. From last year, I even started doing a Korean language course in Dhaka University. I feel relaxed whenever I meet people with the same interests. This meet and greet was a great opportunity indeed.”

On this occasion, guests and Embassy staff met and shared ideas for celebrating the 50 diplomatic anniversary of the two countries next year. Tashnuva Zahan, the founder of BD K-family said that, “I have been working on K-Culture since 2010, and BD K-Family is the pioneer in spreading Korean culture in Bangladesh. So, it feels amazing to see many new fresh enthusiasts working and achieving new goals. Korea promotes our culture in their country and likewise, we do here in Bangladesh. The respect for each other’s culture makes me proud to be a part of this community. I was honored to be a part of this meet and greet, which appreciates the love and care we have for each other’s culture.”

In addition to pop culture, Korean cuisine has also gained popularity in Bangladesh. At the dinner, the many super tasty Korean dishes served included kimchi with tofu, bulgogi, japchae and tteokbokki. Everything was served beautifully. The event was wrapped with the screening of a famous Korean movie, “Extreme Job”. Everyone enjoyed the movie thoroughly.

When asked about the relationship between Bangladesh and South Korea, the Korean embassy persons said that the relationship between the two countries is strong and multifaceted, with close ties in the political, economic, and cultural spheres. The relationship between South Korea and Bangladesh will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years. There is potential for further cooperation and collaboration in these areas, as well as in new areas such as technology, science, and education. The strong foundation of mutual understanding and cooperation that has been built over the years should provide a solid foundation for the two countries to overcome any challenges and continue to strengthen their relationship in the future.

Meet and greet events can be a valuable way to promote cultural understanding and appreciation, as they provide an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to interact and learn from each other. It was the first time for the Korean Embassy to hold this type of meet and greet. Ambassador Lee Jang-Keun said, “This event can play a pivotal role to deepen and widen the relationship between the Korean Embassy and Young Bangladeshi Cultural Influencers based on aspirations for K-Culture. Hope we can plan and implement various creative events for celebrating bilateral relations between two countries next year”.

When asked if they will continue this in the future, the Korean Embassy said that, they are now currently planning a variety of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and Bangladesh. Therefore, we are looking forward to promoting the relationship with young K-culture lovers by preparing for those events.

Undoubtedly, by this event, the young professionals got the opportunity to know more people with same interests and build connections with them.

* Rumaiysa M. Rahman is an 11th grader who loves animals, taekwondo and Korean culture