Multi-culture Story

This is the era of multiculturalism for 2 million people. If you look around, you can easily see neighbors with different skin colors and languages. However, Korean society's notion of multiculturalism is not keeping up with the changes of the times. To solve this problem, the Joongbooilbo has planned a ‘multi-culture story(다문화 스토리)’ that introduces multicultural neighbors living in various ways. ‘Multi-culture Story(다문화 스토리)’ aims to calmly capture the stories of multicultural people living around us and create changes in Korean society in the age of multiculturalism. -Ed-

 

"It seems like I've seen it somewhere..."

This is what I thought when I saw Gaurav Sharma, an Indian actor who was active in broadcasting in Korea. Entering the Joongbooilbo studio in jeans and a white sweater, his appearance is better than that he has been seen on TV. Gaurav Sharma, who is regularly appearing on MBC's entertainment program 'Mysterious TV Surprise(신비한 TV 서프라이즈)', is a so-called 'well-known' foreign actor. He is building up a splendid filmography while appearing in movies, dramas, and TV shows regardless of genre.

Gaurav Sharma visit Joongbooilbo on the 5th of May and had an interview with the reporter. Image=Doyoon Kim  
Gaurav Sharma visit Joongbooilbo on the 5th of May and had an interview with the reporter. Image=Doyoon Kim  

◆ I visit Korea after watching the movie ‘Train to Busan’…I have fallen in love with friendly Koreans

Gaurav first visited Korea in 2017 with a friend. The reason he came to Korea was for the movie 'Train to Busan'. "I became a fan after watching Ma Dong-seok, who subdues zombies with his bare hands like Superman in a movie," Gaurav said.

He said, "Most Indians enjoy watching Chinese and Japanese movies, so I also don't know much about Korea. I thought global brands such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai were also Japanese, but I found out that they are Korean brands through the movie."

Gaurav said, "I knew Korea was an economically developed country, but it was the people that made me feel even more special." In particular, he expressed his affection for Koreans deeply by unraveling his experiences when he was touched by his kindness. Perhaps that's why he lives in Suwon and continues his broadcasting activities. Most foreign actors want to live in Gangnam or Itaewon where many convenient facilities for foreigners exist.

“The reason why I live in Suwon is because of people. I want to live close to my Korean friends, so I don't leave Suwon" he said.

A scene from the filming of MBC's 'Mysterious TV Surprise'.  Image=Gaurav Sharma
A scene from the filming of MBC's 'Mysterious TV Surprise'.  Image=Gaurav Sharma

◆ I want to be an actor in Korea

On his first visit, he stayed for about two months, traveling around the country. After returning to India, he re-visits Korea because of the good memories that were made while traveling in Korea. The second destination was Jeju Island. He planned to return to India after traveling, but an advertisement for a model job that he came across was a turning point that changed his life as an actor.

As soon as seeing the ad, he contacted the author and asked how he could become a model.

"I had an experience working as a theater actor in India when I was a child, so I thought of giving it a try," Gaurav said.

But his wish did not come true. Foreigners who want to do broadcasting in Korea must obtain an E-6 or C-4 visa, however, Gaurav just had a travel visa.

“Even though I wasn’t cast, I knew what I had to prepare to work as an actor in Korea,” he said.

Gaurav went back to India and returned to Korea about six months later to study the Korean language. After entering Soongsil University's language school and studying, he did not forget his dream of becoming an actor and participated in various auditions in his spare time. In the meantime, he had a chance to be auditioned for MBC's 'Mysterious TV Surprise(신비한 TV 서프라이즈)'. The production team, who saw Gaurav's performance, promised him to appear on the show if he receives the E-6 visa. Finally, the path to working as an actor in Korea was opened.

Gaurav appeared on the MBC entertainment program 'Mysterious TV Surprise'. Image=Gaurav Sharma.
Gaurav appeared on the MBC entertainment program 'Mysterious TV Surprise'. Image=Gaurav Sharma.

◆ I felt difficulty with racism... but I'm active now because of my skin color

He is currently making regular appearances 2-3 times a month in MBC's 'Mysterious TV Surprise(신비한 TV 서프라이즈)'. In addition, he is active in various entertainment programs, movies, and dramas as an assistant and a minor.

Now, he is attracting attention as a foreign actor, but it was not always smooth sailing from the beginning. In particular, he felt the racism sometimes when he went to an audition and it was like a huge wall he never overcome.

"Until recently, Korean broadcast content producers preferred white or black people when casting foreigners. But the atmosphere has changed a lot recently. As producers are focusing on doing business in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the range of activities for foreigners with brown skin like me has expanded. Moreover, racism has also significantly decreased” Gaurav said.

The problem he felt these days is not racism, but low treatment for foreign actors. It has been that foreign actors are being treated below the standard regardless of skin color.

He pointed out that the problem is that the fees charged by agencies are too high.

"There are a lot of foreigners who want to do broadcasting in Korea now, so there are agencies that take advantage of it in bad ways" Gaurav argued.

He also expressed disappointment in the attitude of foreign actors to this issue. He said, "Some foreign actors who respond to outrageous fees are also a problem. they can appear in many programs right now, but if they don’t have acting skills, it will be difficult to be cast in the end“.

Gaurav attending an event related to Korean traditional culture. Image=Gaurav Sharma.

◆ I'm not acting for money, fame...I want to introduce Indian culture to Korea

India's broadcasting industry has a large market that is called 'Bollywood' (a compound word of 'Bombay', the city's name in India, and 'Hollywood', the center of the American film market). If someone succeeds as an actor in India, they can achieve greater wealth and fame than that in Korea. I wondered why he was acting as an actor in Korea, where the market is smaller than in India.

"I don't live to make money or to be famous. I always want to live a challenging and passionate life. It is a big challenge for me to be active as an actor in Korea, and I feel satisfied through it“, Gaurav said.

Gaurav expressed his determination and goals as an Indian actor working in Korea.

"I always do broadcasting in Korea with the thought that I represent India. If I do something wrong, people will not only criticize me but all Indians living in Korea. I will continue to do my best as an actor to make a good impression on Indians and achieve my goals", he said.

By Seyong Lee

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