My sister has a lot of Korean friends. I supposed that’s where the story starts.
I had no idea what K-pop was until my sister started showing me some music videos. The first video she showed me Girls’ Generation’s “Gee“, and I’m not gonna lie, I thought they just sounded plastic and childish – like singing Barbies. I actually made fun of her for liking such a video (ironically now she does that to me). She also showed me Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” and I found myself much more drawn to this video. I couldn’t believe there could be so many people in one group. I was completely blown away by the dancing and catchy beat.
After listening to “Sorry Sorry” for about the millionth time, I noticed one of the related videos was called “Ring Ding Dong” by a group called SHINee. The title sounded interesting so I clicked on it. Let’s just say I was captivated. The chorus was unbelievably catchy, the dance was so much fun, and the costumes were a style I had never seen before. I had to have more and looked up every single performance of the song that I could find. To this day, Ring Ding Dong is still one of my favorite K-pop songs and after watching that video I became completely SHINee obsessed. I watched all of their music videos, watched variety show segments that they were on, and listened to their songs all day long. Hello Baby became my favorite show and their mini album “Year of Us” was on constant repeat.
By the end of that following summer, my sister came home one day to tell me of another music video that had just come out. It was by that 13-member group from before, Super Junior, and the video was called “Bonamana” (and just to demonstrate how naïve of K-pop I was back then, for months I thought the video was called “Banana”). I watched the video and it was love at first sight. I loved every moment of that song and became totally obsessed with that video and dance. Bonamana is still one of my favorite Super Junior songs and music videos. Just like Ring Ding Dong, I found myself watching all of the live performances of Bonamana. I learned that they also performed Bonamana live on radio shows, which led to me discover Sukira, Super Junior’s own radio show, and I watched countless videos from their broadcasts. “Victory Korea” soon came out and I got to see the fun and happy side of Super Junior. I learned that they had their own variety shows as well, and watched every single one I could find that had English subtitles. Through these shows, I learned who Super Junior was outside of their music. “The Dancy Guy” from “Sorry, Sorry” became Eunhyuk, “The Creepy One” became Heechul, and “The Guy with the Cool Hair” became Yesung. I learned about the devastating 2007 car accident, Hangeng leaving the group, Donghae’s father passing away, and all of the hate Henry and Zhoumi went through when they first joined the group. I learned that each year (conveniently starting the year I first learned about Super Junior) one or two members of the group leave to join the military for two years. I saw the incredibly close and strong relationships each member has with one another. Through their stories, their personalities, and their music, I completely fell in love with Super Junior.
Once I got through all of Super Junior’s and SHINee’s music videos, I decided to give other groups a chance. I watched “Neverland” by U-KISS, “Haru Haru” by Big Bang, and “Shock” by B2ST, all of which led to more craving of that sound and those dances. I even learned to love Girls’ Generation, that group I used to call singing Barbies. Now they are one of my favorite girl groups and “Oh” and “Run Devil Run” are some of my favorite songs. Go Figure.
I touched on this in my Gangnam Style post, but one of the reasons why I find myself so drawn to K-pop is because the songs and videos are much cleaner than the American pop I grew up with. Whereas the seeming majority of American pop songs are about partying, sex, and drugs, I found K-pop to have more variety and definitely more entertaining music videos. I can click on a K-pop music video and feel confident that there will be more to it than couples making out and girls pole-dancing. K-pop videos focus more on story-telling and dancing, which I personally find much more entertaining than images that tell me that the only way to have fun is to get drunk and have one-night stands. Whenever there is anything even close to that in a K-pop video, it is censored or banned. I’m sure that is a cause of frustration for other K-pop fans, but it’s a relief for me to not have to be worried about what I am about to see when I click on a music video.
Aside from special episodes with Super Junior and SHINee (and Hello Baby), my watching of variety shows and K-dramas didn’t come until much, much later. By now I have far surpassed my sister in how much I watched Korean entertainment (in fact, she has voiced her regrets of introducing me to the genre multiple times).
Four years later and here I am: writing my own K-pop blog. I know enough about the genre now and have heard enough groups and songs to no longer be amazed at every single video I see anymore. I’ve grown to have my likes and dislikes in K-pop, which I see as a good thing. A lot of the vocal K-pop fans on the internet seem to think that as a K-pop fan, we have to like every single comeback, but that is so not the case. As with any artist, Korean artists have their strong comebacks and their weak ones, and I’m here to point those out and specifically highlight the strong moments in K-pop. I’m very happy to have found a medium where I can talk about these likes and dislikes to other K-pop fans because as much as America is obsessed with Gangnam Style, there still aren’t very many people here with whom I can have an actual two-way conversation about the epicness of G-Dragon’s “Crayon” or 2PM’s big comeback or my frustrations with 4Minute. Thanks WordPress 🙂
So to put all of this in one nice nutshell, I began as an exclusive Shawol, then became an exclusive ELF, and now I’m an ELF, Melody, KissMe, Shawol, Baby, JumpingBoA, Sone, BANA, 4Nia, BBC, and so much more!
You can call it obsession. I prefer the term love. As AJ from U-KISS says “Love equals Obsession. Obsession equals Love.”