As everyone knows, K-pop is all about the music. Everyone has their bias group or artist, even their favorite members in specific groups. Everyone has their own particular taste as far as genre, song style, etc. However, one thing that it all undoubtedly comes back to is a love and respect for music. That’s why it’s so incredibly frustrating when those on the outside profess to have a fondness for K-pop when, in fact, the truth is these plebeians, these muggles, are making a mockery of the craft, pretenders who couldn’t even give stylistic examples of why one group is obviously better than another.
Some of the most egregious examples of this superficiality are downright disrespectful, and for our readers who are easily offended by such gross misrepresentations of the genre, you may want to pass this article by. But I find the most common reasons why people “love” K-pop have absolutely nothing to do with K-pop at all.
1) Half-naked bodies
The obvious and most popular “reason” for being a “fan” of K-pop is, of course, the exposure of as much skin as possible. Now, I know this may come as a shock. Believe me, I can’t understand it either. If not for the appreciation and artistic rendering of the human form, how could people possibly see anything of value in the overabundance of taut, shiny, muscular torsos? What could possibly be the point in ogling sculpted calves, or even worse, drooling over thighs that could choke a bear? Artists like Rain, 2PM, and Super Junior’s Eunhyuk take their clothes off for the sake of personifying the passion in their lyrics, so hot sometimes, the very clothes are constricting, denying these artists the ability to properly express themselves.
It’s obvious the offending piece of cloth must be ripped from their bodies, chests and abs exposed so fans feel the fire, sweat flying every which way so we as an audience experience that passionate flame. It sickens me that anyone would take a perverse satisfaction in simply seeing naked flesh, as if these artists and their companies are trying to distract us from the art.
2) Sexy concepts
Just as with the previous example, the idea that there’s anything at all redeeming in flaunting one’s sexuality for the masses is just… well, quite frankly it’s beyond my comprehension. There cannot possibly be any gain in putting on this act of über-sexuality for the sake of getting a few more fans. These are artists, after all. Their need to portray a hypersexual being just for the sake of a viewing audience is preposterous. The lascivious choreography—body rolls, hip thrusts, the ladies wiggling their glorious bodies down to the floor—that gives audiences a lewd, almost voyeuristic peek into what it could possibly be like to have a tumble with these well-oiled Adonises and sensually clad Aphrodites… it’s just indecent! For example, the big hullabaloo about all the sexy concepts that sprung up in the first half of the year with groups like Stellar, Dalshabet, and most recently with the debut of Bob Girls and Fiestar’s comeback. It would seem people were missing the point altogether and concentrating on something that in no way reflected the music.
Again, the artists themselves aren’t at the whims of our sexual fantasies. They’re not here to entice us with their unattainable goods, nor are they here to tease us with a bit of “look but don’t touch.” Their main interest is always the craft and never the need to “sex it up,” as it were, for the loyalty of horned-out fangirls and boys.
Even more abhorrent than the sexy concept is the silly, childlike façade put on display for a few “oohs” and “aahs.” K-pop is no more about playing silly for some attention than it is about feeding the torrid fantasies of a few fans. Though it’s a bit more innocent in its means, the goal is seemingly the same: to distract the audience from the intended purpose, which is the music. Every group is blessed with unconscionable talent, the multiple dozens of deceptively similar groups unique in their musical scope and limitless talent. What good is it to go on variety shows to act like children and show an undistinguished side of themselves when all they need to do is show viewing audiences their incredible voices or brilliant dance skills? There’s no need for it.
4) Flower Boys
Of course, when the gross display of well-sculpted bodies does nothing for the superficial fan, the flawlessness of the faces seem to catch their attention. The proverbial “Flower Boys,” whose soft eyes, high cheekbones, and perfect complexions keep girls swooning while at the same time second guessing their own sexuality. The “Vishal Shocks,” whose beauty is so otherworldly it leaves fans absolutely gobsmacked are enough to make you wonder why some of these fans get into K-pop at all! The “prettiness” of artists such as Nu’est’s Ren or JYJ’s Kim Jaejoong shouldn’t at all factor into their absolute musical prowess. It’s a superficiality that tends to outshine just how talented these young men are. How can anyone let that distract them so easily?
There’s probably nothing more unnecessarily contested than the “ship” or “OTP”—the ultimate distraction from the artistry in the genre. Fans get an inexplicable thrill out of pairing their favorite group members together. No doubt record companies are at a loss as to the desire to fit two people who are nothing more than mates and artists in common with each other. And the artists themselves? They must be beside themselves with confusion as to what value there is in matching them with other members of their tight-knit artist community. What could possibly be the point in it? There’s no musical merit. It’s a real quandary and even more of a useless convention that so-called fans cling to as they attempt to convince us true fans of the genre that they too are part of our world.
K-pop is a genre that should be afforded as much respect as any other. It’s an artistic institution that is music focused and whose sole goal is to introduce the world to the obvious talent of these artists and groups. Anything other than appreciating the music is useless to the genre and its advancement as a viable vehicle of artistic expression. These things have absolutely nothing to do with why I revere K-pop as a valid institution of musical excellence. We’re all here because of a genuine appreciation of the music. If you find yourself falling prey to any of these obvious distractions, I implore you to reexamine your reasons for being a part of K-pop’s global fandom.