Roundtable: Making Introductions
Welcome Back to another Seoulbeats Roundtable, everyone!
We’ve discussed before how we all got into K-pop, and friends who were already fans of K-pop have figured into many an “origin” story; so know that we ourselves are fans, it’s only logical to wonder:
Have you ever tried to introduce a friend (or acquaintance) to K-pop, K-dramas and Hallyu in general? And how did that go for you?
Bethany: I introduced one of my good guy friends to K-pop and K-dramas last year. We had a math class together so at the end of the period every day, I’d watch K-pop videos on his iPod Touch and shamelessly fangirl over them. One of the first videos I showed him was “Oh!” by SNSD and he took an interest in Jessica and Sunny. But his interest wasn’t really solidified until I sent him “Good Day” by IU one afternoon. In his words, “it was all downhill from there.” He watched Dream High and became my go-to friend for talk about K-pop over the course of just a few weeks. He learned more about K-pop in a month than I had in two years. Today, I still send him music videos and dramas to take the edge off of college applications. He’s a huge IU fan, and his other biases include Suzy from Miss A and Park Min-young (courtesy of City Hunter).
Gaya: I was a bit late in hopping on the K-pop wagon, so most of my friends were all already well acquainted with K-pop. And there’s no point trying with my sister — we’ve always been opposites, and not even her K-pop crazy school could manage to make her a fan. My latest target was a family friend who slept over: I made her watch SBS Popasia with me until my sister changed the channel, about five seconds later.
Ambika: My entrance into K-pop started with Super Junior. So naturally, when I tried to get one of my close friends involved, I sent them Super Junior videos, starting with the typical “Sorry, Sorry.” She thought their dancing was cool but wasn’t super interested. A couple weeks later, when she was bored, she asked me to send more stuff to her. Horrible decision on her part. I sent more music videos her way and forced her to learn their names. I think Super Junior-M‘s “Super Girl” got to her the most out of what Super Junior has to offer. But to cement her stay in K-pop required Big Bang, who is one of her favorite groups now. Her love for T.O.P has no bounds.
Another close friend became involved primarily because the first friend and I would discuss K-pop, and the second wanted to join in. So my first friend helped out the second one, and now we merrily discuss K-pop and unload our thoughts on whatever is happening.
Converting my sister wasn’t as successful. She likes a song here and there but doesn’t have the time or interest to pursue it.
Fannie: I think that the best route to K-pop (or anything, for that matter) is through personal curiosity, not someone trying to force you to like the things that they like. If someone asks me about K-pop, I’ll happily answer their questions and give them some suggestions as to where to start, but I generally wait for the other person to bring it up first (and of their own accord), before letting the floodgates open. No one can force anyone else to like anything; if a person chooses not to take the bait of their own accord, then it probably was not going to be their cup of tea in the first place.
Jasper: I think I’m going to have to agree with Fannie with this. Out of all the friends that I actively tried (oh and trust me, I tried my absolute hardest) to introduce to the world of K-pop, none of them really stuck by it. They listened to some songs and artists just to please me, but they soon just lost interest.
Interestingly, it was instead those who came upon the lofty genre by themselves who ended up falling in love with it. Of course, they always had me as a resource for any questions, but those who naturally learned for themselves the workings of K-pop were the ones who eventually learned to appreciate it, becoming dedicated fans.
And honestly, I think this has to do with the whole process of converting someone into K-pop. When we actively try to make someone a fan of K-pop, whether we notice it or not, we are indirectly pushing our preferences and biases onto them. K-pop, while often-times homogeneous, is a very divided and polarizing fandom that drives itself with fan dedication. As a result, when we introduce a friend to acquaintance to the genre, we tend to favor our own biases, leaving out particular groups or acts that we aren’t as dedicated in. And seeing how people can have very different tastes in music, this could turn out as a huge potential loss. Our so-called “converts” would then usually ever bother to see a very selected and preconceived image of K-pop, an image they may not necessarily agree with.
In contrast, when a fan stumbles into K-pop by themselves, they are much more free to explore the numerous acts, picking their own preferences and eventually getting their own biases. Of course, we can still be free to recommend groups or idols, but ultimately, it would be the individual’s own choice to follow the group, rather than being forced into listening to them.
Young-Ji: Interesting points Jasper! I agree that trying to convert someone into K-pop maybe a fruitless activity. I’m like Fannie, where I’m rather passive in my K-pop love. And let’s be honest here, there are a lot of closeted K-pop fans who are embarrassed to admit that they are fan of it. Maybe it has to do with the image it portrays itself, but a lot of my Asian guy friends are not vocal about their love for BoA, SNSD, etc. They tend to play it off and try to make it seem like K-pop is just one of the genres that they are interested in, while I know that they are interested in all.
Interestingly, my black female friends are more vocal about their fascination with K-pop. I have a friend who leaves work early to catch her favorite drama and is not shy to tell her co-workers about it. In sum, I don’t try to spread my love for K-pop, but once I find out that my friends and I share the same interest, we tend to introduce each other to different artists and dramas within K-pop, which opened my eyes to a lot of different K-pop artists.
Gaya: … So, does this mean that my attempts of getting my parents to like K-pop by exposing them to it every chance I get so that they’ll let me go to K-pop concerts that that are never held my city (excluding Jay Park) isn’t going to work?
Bethany: Parents are hard to convert though. Just look at Sung Shi-won’s dad from Answer Me, 1997! I’ve never had a fight with my dad over him calling Myungsoo a skinny monkey, but I definitely had a hard time letting me go to the Big Bang concert in Shanghai this past summer.
Fannie: K-dramas are the way to go if you want to start converting your parents to K-pop. I don’t think I’d ever get mine to understand what’s so great about K-pop music (it pretty much is a genre that caters toward youth culture anyway) but K-dramas are a whole different story, especially if you can find hard copies of them subbed or dubbed. I remember the time when some family friends casually lent my parents the complete Dae Jang Geum box set — let’s just say that we were all very sleep-deprived for the few weeks after that.
Jasper: I’d definitely agree with K-dramas being easier to introduce to friends and family alike. Seeing how my friends are mostly huge anime fans (many being shoujo fans in particular), they tend to relate more with the plotlines and visuals of K-drama over the processed sound of K-pop.
And considering the overly melodramatic, occasionally humorous, and insanely romantic tones of most dramas, they proved to be quite popular in my family. Dubbed Korean dramas are already a pretty big thing in the Philippines and take a pretty big part in Filipino broadcasting networks, but it was all a matter of recommending the right drama to get my mom and sister hooked. I vividly remember my sister staying up all through the last days of summer marathoning Dream High and falling in love with Kim Soo-hyun in the process. …It was a very jarring period to say the least.
And lastly, to all those that I’ve somehow persuaded to watch an episode of Running Man seem to absolutely love it. I find the gags of K-variety to be much more universal, and I definitely regard the genre as an unnoticed yet pretty potent factor in Hallyu.
Johnelle: The funniest thing ever is that my friends tried to convert me, they were all into K-dramas, but I was all like “Are you crazy? I don’t want to be reading subtitles all the time.” I think the K-pop gods had it in for me after that. It was about a year or so later that my niece who was fully into everything Korean entertainment pulled me in through curiosity when being in the same room while she was watching We Got Married and I got sucked in because of the Hwang Bo and Kim Hyun-joong couple’s antics. And while my interest was piqued she told me that Kim Hyun-joong was going to be in this K-drama called Boys Over Flowers and that was the beginning of the end.
Because I had been so vehemently against watching K-dramas before I had to somehow rationalize my sudden downfall into the abyss that is the life of a K-drama fan so I did the only thing I could think of. Which was to try and get everyone else I knew hooked on K-dramas too–because then I wouldn’t be crazy, you know. My friends had already weaned themselves off of K-dramas because it started controlling their lives (they only watched on TV and didn’t know the wonders of watching at your whim online) so I started telling my friends at work and any relatives and acquaintances I knew (all female teens and older) about the wonder that was Boys Over Flowers. I got most of them to watch it, one of my nieces marathoned the whole show in a weekend, but although most of them enjoyed Boys Over Flowers none of them got into Korean entertainment as much as I did.
So while I didn’t convert everyone I knew as hard as I tried, I’m okay with my K-drama, K-pop, K-variety obsession now. I have a few friends that are into it also that I’ve gone to concerts with and some friends at work who also watch K-dramas so we all chat about what’s going on with the latest dramas. And of course I get to share some of my K-pop obsessions here on Seoulbeats with our readers and my fellow SB writers–you guys would probably die to have the chance to see some of our chats…
Ambika: K-variety is definitely powerful. A friend’s brother isn’t really into K-pop or dramas, but they sit together to watch Running Man weekly. The humor and competition that some variety shows have can relate in ways that dramas and music don’t.
Johnelle: Agreed on the power of K-variety. Because while Boys Over Flowers got me hooked, it was my love of Family Outing that pulled me hook line and sinker into Korean entertainment, I could actually feel self getting over K-dramas after a couple of months–there are lulls when your favorite type of K-dramas aren’t playing and it was K-varieties that filled that void for me. It was actually Family Outing that got me into K-pop through my affection for Lee Hyori and Daesung.
Nabeela: Getting my friends into K-pop was always a flop, save for my best friend, who is Korean. When I had come to her with my K-pop feels, she was able to unleash all her smothered love for K-pop and we rocked it together.
To be quite honest though, most of the friends I tried introducing to K-pop just ended up making fun of me, mainly because I’m not Korean and they argued with me about how I could even enjoy music I couldn’t understand. It’s really funny how easy it was for them to call me out on loving classics like Super Junior’s “U” and DBSK’s “Rising Sun,” and yet here we are five years after I fell for K-pop with everyone bouncing around screaming “Gangnam Style” in my face.
But yeah, I think Jasper makes a good point up there–most people who really do love K-pop for what it’s worth are the ones who find it themselves.
And about K-dramas–they are the one thing I can’t get addicted to. I can watch performances all night, read fanfic all day, and stalk photos for the better part of most weekends, but I can’t seemed to get hooked to K-dramas they way my friends do. That’s not to say that I don’t think more people find K-dramas entertaining, because I definitely know more people who are into dramas more so than they are the pop.
(Images via: KBS, SBS, SM Entertainment, Vogue Girl)