We’ve all discovered K-pop in our own way, and while for some fans it’s love at first sight, for others they had to see more before being sucked in. So this week, we’ve asked our writers: when did you realise that you’d gone from being an outsider looking in to becoming a fan in your own right?
Mark: For me, there were two songs that lured me into the K-pop world just two summers ago. While I’ve been mildly aware of K-pop before that, mostly due to the American promotions of BoA, Se7en, and Wonder Girls, I knew I was hooked when I first discovered HyunA‘s “Bubble Pop!” I must have watched the MV like a dozen times in like the first week. Little did I know at the time what I was getting myself into.
Not much later, I discovered Taeyang‘s “Wedding Dress” (like 2 years late), but from then on I began digging and digging through a ton of K-pop videos hoping to find more gems that I never knew existed. And then I discovered Seoulbeats and my mind exploded!
Ambika: I’ve probably said this before, but Super Junior was the first group I got into. I had seen Taeyang’s “Wedding Dress” before and liked it, but it wasn’t until I looked up “Sorry, Sorry” on a whim and kept going with those suggestions in the sidebar that I was actually curious. I think it was “Bonamana” and “Super Girl” that solidified my interest, but I really knew I was a fan when I was hopelessly staring at Super Junior’s “Happiness” video trying to figure out which member was which. I even found a video where someone nicely annotated it with names. I admit, it’s not the best video to differentiate the members, but what did I know.
Leslie: When my sister introduced me to K-pop, it was with f(x). They had just debuted and had just released their version of “Chocolate Love” along with Girls’ Generation, but I really wasn’t all that interested. I liked a few songs by f(x) but nothing enough to hook me.
It wasn’t until I discovered Shinee and TVXQ that I started to actually like K-pop. Having a performance background, I preferred male groups because of their more choreography heavy performances. I started to look at it as a fan and not as just something my sister liked. That was when I started looking for music and learning about groups and just simply educating myself on K-pop that I realized I was a fan of my own accord.
Plus, I’d squashed the inner hipster in me that didn’t consider K-pop “real” music. That was probably a big part of it in fact, but now I’m a K-pop fan through and through, more so than my sister, actually.
I was drawn to the song and MV immediately. I had seen some Super Junior and DBSK MVs before but they hadn’t grabbed me — probably because I had seen “Balloons,” but I digress. “Lucifer” was different; it had an amazing dance, the song was catchy, and the clothing style was right up my alley. Not to mention that I fell in love with Onew at first sight. Visuals aside, I also ended up loving the entire Lucifer album and “A-Yo” remains one of my all time favorite K-pop b-sides.
Gaya: “Lucifer” is a song that tends to get a love-or-hate reaction, and I am firmly in the love camp. I spent three days watching SNSD MVs on YouTube before clicking on that link to “Lucifer” which would change my life forever (I am not exaggerating); and somewhere between the dancing and realising Jonghyun‘s resemblance to Shah Rukh Khan, I got sucked in. I’m certain that spending three days with the softer, feminine SNSD before experiencing what is Shinee’s most hypermasculine song shaped my opinion; though, luckily, I also enjoy their other music as well.
Shweta: In regards to my relationship with K-pop, to say curiosity killed the cat would be an understatement. Like Ambika, that darn YouTube sidebar is the sole reason that I’m where I am now, because I tend to be someone easily fascinated by pop culture and fandom in almost any form. It’s so easy to keep clicking on the next video, and before you know it, three hours would have passed by.
To be more specific, my first K-pop song was actually “Super Girl,” and then “Sorry Sorry,” because my friend who introduced me to K-pop was a huge Super Junior fan. But it wasn’t until her recommendation to watch variety shows like Explorers of the Human Body that I actually got hooked and bothered to learn all their names. (And boy was that hard at the time.) Variety shows were really the means by which I got to put a personality behind the face; in essence, it gave me reason to pay as much attention to the individuals performing as I did the collective.
Fannie: Fly to the Sky was my first introduction to K-pop, but back then I considered myself just a casual visitor to the sub-genre (J-pop and T-pop were a lot bigger internationally at the time). I’d say it slowly crept more and more into my life over the span of a few years without me thinking too much of it.
Then one day it just hit me (this was after I realized the ridiculousness of having foregone an entire night of sleep just to re-watch the DBSK banjun dramas over and over and over again)… that I had somehow inadvertently made it past the point of no return.
Nicholas: It started 4 years ago when I was working on a project with my schoolmates, and instead of doing the work, they got bored and went to watch SNSD music videos. I resisted the urge to watch what I considered “manufactured music” back then, but went back to learn the names in an attempt to look cool, and then ended up getting sucked in.
The other turning point was when I was working as a volunteer at a national event and I met another K-pop lover who sold me on the benefits of T-ara, and encouraged me to branch out to other groups, from then on, there was no turning back, as one group led to another, and eventually full blown knowledge of most girl groups out there (though member names still elude me at times).
Miyoko: I had had some knowledge of K-pop through BoA and Rain, but getting me into it was a calculated effort by one of my friends. She gave me a mix that had a bunch of “essentials” on it — so that meant stuff like “Lies,” “Gee,” “Replay,” etc. All of that sent me down the YouTube rabbit hole for days, which I only remember as an awesome blur of color and light. That’s pretty much all it took to make me a fan, but if I were to name a specific video that got me hooked it’d be G-Dragon‘s “Heartbreaker.”
The moment I realized I was completely gone was when I decided it was perfectly logical to fly across country to see the 2010 SMTown, which was largely inspired by SHINee’s “Lucifer.”
Gaya: That song certainly lives up to its name.
(Cube Entertainment, Mnet, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment)