Sunday, September 11, 2011

KPOP, in the View of an Ordinary Fan

I am no authority, yet I have this personal space in the World Wide Web as a place to express my opinion; and as I notice the sudden emergence of the lack of knowledge towards my greatest interest, I feel compelled to somehow feed the need of some people for information about what KPOP really is.


KPOP, or Korean Pop, is a genre of music in South Korea. With the term POP, it is a type of music that is lively and danceable. Sometimes, ballad is classified into it, and that’s totally acceptable because it’s a general term.
At the moment, KPOP is the ace of Korean tourism. Many are dreaming of going to South Korea just to lay eyes on the KPOP idols.
‘Idols’ is the term used to refer to KPOP artists. In a culturally-strict country as South Korea, these idols tend to serve as role models among Korean youth. That’s why they have to look perfect; and the more perfect they are, the more they inspire Korean fans. Companies invest large sums of money to come up with the best people for the best groups. Even though it requires plastic surgery, excessive dieting and endless workouts and dance/vocal/acting trainings, artists would bear all those just to be noticed. That’s culture for Korea; business for companies; dream for artists; and entertainment and inspiration for fans – including international ones, US.


But of course, KPOP can’t be fully perfect. It has flaws, which we – ourselves – see. We are not in-denial about the imperfections of our fandom. We criticize our idols, and others’ idols. Hating and bashing applies among us; that’s the reason why there are so-called fanwars. Of course, that is not encouraged; but it’s happening – WITHIN THE WORLD WE’RE IN.
Also, KPOP is mostly in Korean; and since not all of us are capable of understanding it, we depend on translators.  From the songs, to blog entries, to tweets, to videos and other stuffs, we depend on people who know Korean well. And just the same, some Korean songs have wrong English on it. So we’re fair.
In KPOP, it is also a common knowledge that we literally empty our wallets and bank accounts to show support. We work double and earn double to financially sustain our fandom. We shed out money for albums, merchandises, concert tickets (and plane fares). We even finance support and charity projects for our idols. It is difficult, of course, considering the kind of set-up our economy is at now. But we continue, out of sheer dedication and – according to many, – craziness.
Another thing about KPOP is that it puts its fans into an emotional rollercoaster ride all the time. We are happy over good things and we’re sad about the bad ones. Disbandment, army, and relationships are like our constant worries. Indeed, KPOP somehow makes people appear selfish and idealistic, and it somehow sends us away from reality. This is a common problem we, ourselves, are trying to handle.


But amidst the many errors KPOP has, we stick to it; because despite its imperfections, we find greater reasons to keep on believing on its magic.
One great thing about KPOP is that the idols and fans exert effort to communicate. As said, we have translators. But directly, many fans learn Korean. In return, idols learn English. It’s that simple.
Another thing: despite the fanwars I was talking about, the KPOP fandom allows us to meet spectacular people. I personally met real friends on Twitter because of Super Junior. We started as virtual friends, then we met, and then we became close, and then we became friends. That’s one truth that happens.
KPOP teaches the value of thriftiness, as well. I don’t know if this applies to others but to me and some friends who do not depend on parents for fandom finances, we learn how to work and budget our money just to be able to provide for our families and sustain our fandom needs, at the same time.
And since we learned how to budget, it allows us to pursue our dreams. My ultimate ambition is to go to South Korea. Way before I knew of Super Junior, I’ve had that dream already; and KPOP has actually given me more motivation to push through with it. You see, KPOP serves as a stimulus for you to chase your dream. It never fails.
Lastly, KPOP makes us a better person. Our idols inspire us a lot because more than the looks and talent, many KPOP artists have hearts of gold. No, it’s not because I think so high of them. I actually couldn’t find a way to prove it literally, but I think anyone who do not believe should just have to indulge themselves in KPOP and understand it for themselves.


KPOP is another world, for us. This is one thing which non-fans fail to notice. We live in a dimension wherein only we and our idols exist. That’s a common nature of KPOP, and that’s a distinguishing factor that sets it apart from anything else.
But being inside its realm does not mean we are restricted from going out. KPOP, no matter how addictive, can still be suppressed. And even if there are some people who are blatant about campaigning that loving KPOP is loving KPOP alone, I assure you that the people who believe otherwise is still much bigger in number.
It does not follow that just because KPOP fans love KPOP means they no longer have the capability to like others. And I think the issue of  liking your own music more is immature, because it’s just a matter of interest. For example, KPOP cannot be compared to OPM, and OPM cannot be compared to KPOP. It’s just two different things which can co-exist, regardless of which comes first. For KPOP fans, KPOP will naturally comes first; and OPM loyalists cannot argue that that’s turning back against the local music scene. Because that’s not necessarily how it is. KPOP fans remain to appreciate good music. And we have our own preferences when it comes to music other than KPOP, of course. So let’s not dwell on the issue of ethnocentricity because as how Sir Chito put it, it’s just like food – you don’t force yourself to eat it if you don’t like it, and you don’t force others to eat it when you didn’t.


KPOP is no longer about just music and trend. It has become a lifestyle, an inspiration, a motivation; and to some, a dream. KPOP is much, much better than the stereotypical impression non-fans put on it. It, in any way, is still music; because it does what music does – UNITING PEOPLE.
It’s just sad that we, as fans, couldn’t prove it immediately; because KPOP is understood only when you’re in it. Thus, only those who would give it a chance to be understood can discover the reality of my statements above.
So let the hating come to a halt. Let music – whether KPOP or whatever – be free from stereotyping and wrong impressions, because whatever we do, it will always be part of music. And please, the words ‘opinion’ and ‘freedom of expression’ have long gone been overrated. Enough of it, already. :)
This is KPOP in the view of an ordinary fan who enjoys it, and enjoys OPM too. It doesn’t really speak in behalf of the majority; but I hope that this somehow clears that KPOP, whatever it is, should be appreciated – because people put effort to come up with it.

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