Before this happened, I wasn’t technically unaware of the genre. My earliest memory of hearing a K-pop song was back in 2009 when the Wonder Girls released “Nobody” and it became a huge song in the Philippines. In that same timeframe, the genre started to spread even more as groups like Super Junior and 2NE1 rose to fame in the country. Back then, I couldn’t care less about this trend. It seemed so weird to me how so many Filipinos actually like K-pop to the point of becoming totally addicted so I didn’t understand it for a long time. But hey, look who’s talking now.
This obsession sort of hit me by surprise. I never thought I’d get into the crazy world of Korean pop music and actually enjoy it. Even the people who know me so well were caught off guard when they found out I got into this genre so much that this is what my life revolves around these days. And honestly, I’m only getting more and more obsessed everyday.
I don’t want to delve into this deeply since I still don’t have full knowledge about a lot of K-pop groups as well as K-pop as an industry. But I guess I want to talk about some things I’ve realized as I’m becoming more of a fan and hopefully, I could shed light on some preconceived notions by non-Kpop fans.
When you ask a question along the lines of “How can you even tell the difference between each member?”, I feel like it’s kind of saying you think most if not all Asians look alike. Which is obviously false. If you look closely, they all look different. They might dress the same, but they don’t look the same. I guess some people find it hard to differentiate members because each idol is made to fit a certain image with regards to the concept the group is carrying. So for example the group has a cute concept, then the members are groomed and styled to fit that kind of look. Hence, the “cheerleader effect” except everyone is actually really good looking. (And you’d be surprised that not all members in a K-pop group are Korean).
YOU DON’T NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE MUSIC FOR YOU TO LIKE IT
I don’t know how to speak or understand Korean obviously, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the songs I listen to. K-pop for me is a different kind of entertainment. I don’t feel the need to have lyric translations or whatnot because I’m already amused by the melodies and dances. Not everything has to be deeply perceived for it to be likable. Of course, you could always look up translations of songs but sometimes it’s really not that necessary. Sometimes songs have english versions but I personally find the Korean ones better for some odd reason.
K-pop receives quite a few bad criticisms for having groups belong under entertainment companies. So there’s this mindset that everyone is being heavily controlled and that they’re not authentic. This isn’t entirely true, and what I mean is that yes, the company has a big say on the overall image and work schedule of idols/groups but that doesn’t mean they don’t get the chance to truly express themselves. A lot of idols write their own music and choreograph their own dances. Also, they way I understand this is that this is really how the music industry is like in Korea; almost all artists are under companies and a lot of people are actually aspiring to become part of them. So yeah, it’s not all that bad. The only problem is with how the companies treat their talent (*cough* SM Entertainment *cough*).
Crazy fans or what they call sasaeng fans are some of the craziest and unbelievable people on earth. They go to different lengths just to feel close to their favorite idols and sometimes they even break the law to do so. For example, one sasaeng fan decided to break in to EXO’s dormitory and steal one of the members’ underwear. Another one slapped the face of her favorite idol just so their interaction could be memorable. There are a lot of other cases like these and it’s pretty scary to think that this is what K-pop does to them. Just try Googling ‘sasaeng fans’ and you’ll find a list of all the creepy stuff they do. Sure, I get that you really love your idols, but there’s still the need to understand and to respect their privacy. This goes for all idols all over the world for that matter. I know it’s hard to get noticed especially when there are millions of other fans, but please, let’s be chill okay?
From my experience, there are still a lot of people who don’t fully understand the whole K-pop craze. They tend to think it’s weird and silly for you to like something you don’t completely understand and I guess I know where they’re coming from since I was one of them. But this unfortunately creates a bad notion that K-pop is for the “weirdos” that don’t fit in within the mainstream pop culture a.k.a. Western music and whatnot. And because of that, I kind of feel slightly shy whenever I’m asked about it. There’s a bit of hesitation whenever I tell someone and it’s sad that I’m in a way ashamed of something that I love. Although I’m slowly starting to be proud of it and I guess through this article I’m letting a lot of you know that yes, I am a K-pop fan so deal with it.
Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny that K-pop is such a huge global industry and it will only continue to expand all over the world in the future. So many new groups and artists debut every year breaking into different genres that you’re bound to like at least one if you try to listen to them. Don’t be afraid to embrace the K-pop culture. You just have to be open minded about it and soon enough, you may find yourself to be one of us.
- Reign Gonzales
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slideshow photos are from kpophqpicture.co.vu