My Opinion of K-Pop (2019 Version)

A yo ladies and gentlemen, it’s a good time to be alive, especially if you’re a fan of k-pop.

I can’t be positive, but I think we’re nearing the peak of k-pop’s popularity globally and I want to record what it’s like to be able to witness this phenomenon in real time.

And time is of the essence because as much we’d all like to ignore it, BTS, BLACKPINK, NCT and other groups won’t be popular forever and we have to capture the feeling while we still have it. They’re all subject to eventually experience a dip in demand.

With BTS’s sudden ascension to fame in 2015 after their very well-received “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 1” album, which they later built on to become global sensations, k-pop was suddenly playing a much larger role in people’s lives.

A lot of BTS’s fanbase, ARMY, like to say that “BTS paved the way”. Which is both right and wrong. Right in the sense that they made a path for k-pop to gain in the West, but wrong because k-pop existed long before BTS ever did.

Whatever the case is, people who had never even heard or thought about Korean music promptly found themselves entranced by the stunning visuals of their music videos and the lyrics of their songs. A lot of times, without even realizing it.

Myself included.

I’m a sucker for living memes, and crack videos are hard to avoid.

Crack videos, fan edits, fan art, memes, dance covers, adoring twitter posts. It’s amazing, all of the sheer positive content that comes as a result of a group of people deciding to actively support artists.

It’s absolutely uplifting to see so many people from different walks of life banding together in one unified cause. You come for the music, or maybe for the pretty faces. But you never expect to join a global community of dedicated fans whose common goal is to see a group of aspiring stars (who don’t even speak the same language as them) succeeds.

The way ARMYs and Blinks and NCTzens, and all k-pop fandoms fixate on making their respective groups proud of what they’ve accomplished is one of the most powerful acts of collective kindness you’ll ever witness. Fans even raise money for charity in the names of their favorite ensembles and stars.

Even with the less famous groups who haven’t been noticed in America, such as Pentagon, you join that community, that family, and just in the YouTube comments of their videos, you can see the fans expressing their pride for the group, questioning about the health of the members, encouraging each other to promote further and help the group get their first win, because all they want is for Pentagon to rise higher and higher because all they see is potential. Pure potential.

It’s almost like they’ve all adopted the members of the group as their own children.

Being able to be part of such a loving circle of people, despite most of us never meeting face-to-face, is awe-inspiring and personally, I feel lucky to be included.

And bonus: Just like a family, all fandoms have inside jokes. Small moments the groups share on their television shows and live broadcasts, moments where they’re not stars, but regular folks just like us. The crack videos highlight the mistakes the members of a group might make, rendering them more human and therefore, more lovable. Honesty, trust, and sincerity are the building blocks of a loving fandom/group relationship.

Unfortunately, it’s not all perfect.

There has never been a history where a group of people didn’t have a few bad apples mixed into the bunch. The same goes for k-pop fandoms.

There are the wild fans who will go to extreme lengths to meet their stars, those who will verbally abuse anyone who talks negatively about their favorite group, and those who think that bringing other groups down will lift their group up.

It can be scary when you’re swimming in the mutual affection and you abruptly find yourself in the middle of an intense fanwar, often triggered because of the tiniest bit of criticism.

And it’s hard to ignore the Burning Sun scandal, ruining the reputation of k-pop for the time being.

The good news is that the positive outweighs the negative by a lot. More responsible fans teach others in the community how to be less toxic and spread love instead. There will be the occasional comment from someone who simply wants to stir up anger, but fandoms have learned to ignore it and even embrace it.

On more than one occasion, someone commented “____ sucks!” and a member of the fandom replied: “Thanks for the views”, leaving it at that.

See, if we all learned to neutrally respond that way to negative input, I think the world could be much better than it is right now.

Again, k-pop is currently reaching its peak. In a few years, members of BTS will have to leave for military duty. We can fully expect the hype to have died significantly with their vacancy, even if other groups have since stepped up.

But while they’re still here, at least we can all enjoy the western k-pop boom, currently ongoing from 2015-April 2019.

So to all of you: “You nice, keep going”.

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