by: Angelie Rodriguez
She’s just a normal teenage girl in the midst of her journey home from school. Her vibrant bookbag lightly jostles with male chibi keychains dangling from the sides and pins with different names and logos scattered across the surface. She pulls out her phone to change her playlist and in her phone case are….photocards? With Asian boys on them? Now at this point, I would probably think something along the lines of huh. You see something weirder everyday. And in all honesty, that’s what I did think of the girl I saw that day...until I ended up becoming one of them myself.
I welcome you into the world of K-pop. Now, understand, this article is not meant to force you to like k-pop. This is simply to open your eyes (rather your ears) to something different. Something that's gaining popularity and something that may or may not be at least of some interest to you. Something that is starting to catch the eyes and ears of females and males all around the world. And who knows? Maybe by the end of this article you’ll have a new interest, (or have a new addiction, considering how I turned out). Maybe you’ll come to find out that wow this isn’t so bad after all and instead of judging the people that do like it, you’ll come to like it too.
First, let me introduce you to k-pop. K-pop is basically a shorter, catchier version of saying Korean pop that originates in the country South Korea, and that is sung in Korean. When I’ve told other people that I listen to k-pop, the main question that always comes up is “Why do you listen to that music when you don’t even understand the language?” I would like to highlight the fact that for some people, the language that the music is in isn’t really that important.
For me, it’s more of the meaning behind the actual lyrics themselves, that catches my attention. Actually, the fact that the music is in Korean has inspired me to want to learn the language and even explore a new culture. 9th grader Angelika Haralampopolous says “Now that I listen to k-pop I can finally learn about Korea and their culture. I really love it as a whole and I actually really want to go to South Korea; it looks so beautiful.” K-pop is not all about just a fangirl, or fanboy that is obsessed with a boyband, or girlband. For a lot of people, k-pop has become an important part of their lives.
For some, the meaning behind the music has gotten them through dark times. A 9th grader states, “K-pop is now a big part of who I am starting with my favorite boys in the world BTS. They have taught me not to care about what others think of me and love myself for who I am, not for who I want to be. Because of them, I smile more everyday.” Or, as silly as it may sound to some people, the connection they have with their idols, whether they’ve met them in real life or not can leave an imprint on them. “What makes me love k-pop is basically everything about it, to the members of the groups they have, their personalities, their voices, their looks and everything about them just makes me feel like I have a home to come home to when I’m feeling down.” Angelika adds.
Idols devote themselves to their fans, and in turn fans give them love whether it be going to every single one of their concerts and fanmeets, or just listening to their music all the time. And for some, seeing the faces and unique personalities of the celebrities they admire, can give them a happiness that they never thought they could have.Even the fandoms play a big role in a person’s passion for k-pop. Many people have said that k-pop fandoms are one of the most unique, powerful, and passionate fandoms that they’ve seen. This is because it’s a big group of fans that share the same love for a group and because of that, they can connect and understand each other. “Coming into k-pop is not just loving the artist but the fandom. Army’s which are k-pop group BTS’s fandom name are like a second family to me. With them I feel at home, like I belong. Whether it’s through Twitter or Instagram, we always stay connected and share the same passion.” anonymous 9th grader states.
Most of the time, a person’s love for k-pop goes way beyond just “liking the music” or having posters of Korean boys all over their room. It has a much deeper meaning than that.
Throughout the years, k-pop has been rising to the top in U.S to the point where even adults haven’t been able to resist it. According to https://www.theodysseyonline.com/rise-kpop-usa
“This past July, I went to Dallas with my mom and sister to attend my first K-Pop concert. We saw Got7, a Korean boy-band with 3 international and 4 native Korean members. The majority of the members were able to speak English, but there was an interpreter for the members that were unable to. The Got7 "Fly in USA" concert was the best concert that I’ve ever been to. Even though the majority of their lyrics are in Korean and some of the members knew very little English, I was able to connect with the songs and gain an even bigger appreciation for K-Pop idols and Korean pop-culture.”
The fact that songs that are sung in Korean are becoming acknowledged not only in the U.S but across the globe represent the breaking of cultural barriers which is a beautiful thing because people get exposed to and start appreciating different cultures. There is no doubt that over the years k-pop has become a global phenomenon that has been on the rise for a while now. Statistics show that “In a survey conducted in 16 countries in 2018, around 33.1 percent of respondents stated that the genre K-pop was “very popular” in their country. T
The survey found that the popularity of K-pop reaches far beyond South Korean borders.” Now in 2019, with k-pop gaining a more worldwide audience, k-pop groups have been accomplishing things in the U.S that American artists even are giving them recognition to like winning billboard awards, performing at coachella, selling out stadiums, and dominating music charts. K-pop is continuing to ‘wow’ so many people because of their stellar performances, intense choreography, fun and vibrant videos, and overall global domination. K-pop fans of all ages continue to show their support and love for the unique style of music and share their passion with others.
The interaction between fans and idols through not only themselves, but the music as a whole, create a bond between the two that many may not be able to understand unless they experience it themselves. Nonetheless, it is important that even though you might not like it or share the same interest, to not judge these fans and accept them because everyone should have the freedom to like different things, especially if it's something that makes them happy. K-pop represents something that brings people of different cultures together and gives them the chance to explore a new world that they probably never thought existed. Angelika states “When these Korean artists and groups perform, I don’t only go crazy for them, but I go crazy because I found a new form of art, a new form of song, and a new form of trying to love myself.”