20120512_seoulbeats_kpop_star_michelle_leeEvery once in a while, it’s good to take a step back and look at just all the content on our site and pick our favorites. We last did this in 2013 with our Good Reads Edition at the behest of a reader. It seems about time to do it again to find out which posts we consider our best and brightest.

Writers, which SB posts are your favorites, or the ones you find most memorable?

Mark:The socio-cultural articles are truly a delight and what I think many readers may not understand is that they’re really tough to write in a way that is informative, insightful, and constructive. There are so many things that can go wrong when writing about sensitive issues such as cultural appropriation or domestic abuse that writers (and editors) must really walk a tightrope in how they present their thoughts. And there are times when our words fail us and we don’t apply the correct tone or neglect certain implications in our message, but we as a community grow from that and learn to do it better next time. Here are a few glowing examples of those that got it right.

Taylore’s piece on the cultural appropriation of hair is well stated and informative. I also enjoy Hania’s look into domestic abuse and how it related to the Kim Hyun-joong incident. Lo and Cjontai’s back and forth dialogue on the BTS photoshoot controversy was rather enlightening. Joyce’s hilariously satirical take on fan relationships with idols on social media was an all-time classic!

20140103_seoulbeats_rainCamiele: I don’t want to appear to be narcissistic, but the conversation between Cjontai, Taylore, and I was a fantastic piece of work. Not because it was exceptionally profound, but because we explored a topic from the mindset of our Black staff, tackling it head-on instead of on the periphery when talking about “appropriation” or things we find a bit uncomfortable in K-pop. I loved that what we really wanted to accomplish was having a conversation with our readership, especially our Black readership, providing a safe space for them to say what they want and ask questions without being judged for it.

But the pieces that made me decide to actually join SB were the pieces about Rain‘s “LA Song” and TVXQ‘s “Something.” I hadn’t come across a K-pop focused website that delved into issues of race and cultural (mis)representation in K-pop before. Basically, a website that’s really trying to push for content that’s not simply about gossip and “Which oppa do you want a back hug from on White Day” type material. I’m sure there are more, but those pieces definitely stick out to me.

Cjontai: I like articles that enlighten me in regards to other cultural perspectives on certain situations. I agree with Camiele that our roundtable about our experiences as black K-pop fans was wonderful, but for me, I felt inspired to even bring up the idea to do it because of our Muslim writers who did their roundtable about their experiences as fans. Anything that provokes people to think outside of their boxes appeals to me, so when that article popped up, I read it thoroughly because I wanted to understand their feelings better.

20150118_seoulbeats_BTS3I also want to commend Willis for his story on Asian male stereotypes in Western media. I could tell he did a lot of research for his article to support his points, and it was nice to see it get a positive response from our readers. Any of our articles that create dialogue among our readers is a fantastic one to me, and I look forward to seeing more staff writers increase the conversations by addressing issues that usually get swept under the rug by fans who may feel uncomfortable talking about these things.

Hania: To be quite frank, this website is seriously one of a kind. Before I joined, I was blown away by the variety and quality of work that all the writers regularly put out, and it’s awesome to be a part of this now.

I love that the writers sway between a range of topics, covering the breadth and depth of K-pop. Alolika’s piece on post-feminism in K-pop provided a highly academic analysis of the issue, and Taylore’s brilliant piece on white-washing got fans to think about their role in propagating negative attitudes.

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s hard to keep in the giggles when reading Mark’s epic rap battles, or Cjontai’s humorous yet meaningful piece on the different types of K-pop fans. The other lighthearted segments like For Your Viewing Pleasure are also awesome to flick through on a lazy afternoon when you need something entertaining to pass the time.

I love the scope of Seoulbeats, and I’m always excited to log on and see what awesomeness my fellow writers have come up with now. I think we deserve a pat on the back!

20141123_seoulbeats_minhoAndy: From reviews to frank discussions, Seoulbeats has a wide variety of things for everybody to read. I personally enjoy Mark’s rap battles. Those are hilarious and thoroughly entertaining. The roundtables and social issue articles add an extra element. It reflects not only the variety of people and opinions within the writer circle, but also with the Korean entertainment fandom as a whole. As for specific articles, it’s so hard to choose — it’s even worse than trying to figure out a bias. Therefore, I’ll just tactfully avoid choosing altogether.

Amy: One of the first articles I ever went back to re-read from Seoulbeats was the piece on whiteness and representation in K-pop. What I love the most about this website is the sheer diversity of the writers and editors who contribute, and getting to learn from and relate to this wide range of perspectives. The subject of Asian-American media presence in Patricia’s article was something that I’d read about before, but I was surprised at how personal the article was in comparison to others like it, and how much I could relate to stories of why I enjoyed K-pop as part of a specific demographic.

Scope/variety has been mentioned, and I’d agree; what other site could cover femslash in fanfiction or CéCi’s portrayals of gender and sexuality? I always enjoy the different angles and ideas found in the articles, both as a writer and reader of the site.

Rachel: I would have to agree with other people who say that the socio-cultural pieces are what kept me coming back to Seoulbeats. Reviews can be found anywhere, but it was nice that there is a site where people are taking things one step further. And it is nice that there are actual articles to read instead of a tantalizing title that ends up being a two-sentence “article.”

20140929_seoulbeats_gooharaharpersbazaarI liked Dana’s So-yu and the Iljin Question because I had never heard of that term before. I also liked Gaya’s article about female idols and jokes and Ree’s take on Goo Hara‘s breakdown on TV. I had never really seen the double standard before; I just assumed that they were getting criticism for “offending” their seniors. But now that I’ve seen more of these shows and read these kinds of articles, it’s so blatantly obvious that women are expected to act a certain way.

Alolika: With people constantly reiterating the triviality of K-pop across all social media, there are times when I wonder whether indeed I am looking ‘too much’ into things. But then Gaya writes an article on cultural appropriation or shadeism, and I feel reassured that I am not going mad; that I don’t deserve to doubt myself like that. Apart from articles which address the cultural context I come from, I absolutely love the articles which question my ownership and knowledge of the same context. I am specifically referring to Ambika’s article on Sandara Park and bindis, and how it violently affects the Indian diaspora; a violence I have never experienced.

I also enjoy articles which often analyze for the sake of analysis. A lot of people find it pretentious but I honestly enjoy the endless conspiracy theories. Pat’s article on Vixx and curses, the guest post on Vixx and Cyber vanguardism and Amy’s article on Shinee and Gatsby are few of the many such articles.

20150323_seoulbeats_epik high2Willis: Seoulbeats has a little bit of everything for everyone. Like everyone else, I especially appreciate the socio-cultural pieces that illuminate different perspectives on topics you may not be aware of and which are great for sparking conversations with our readers. Alolika’s article on Exciting India is an exceptional example of this.

On the other hand, I love discovering new shows like the 4 Things Show and listening to new artists highlight on our K-pop Indie Gem segments, such as Linus’ Blanket and Thornapple. Aside from discovering new artists and shows, SB is relatable. Cjontai’s piece on “By-stander Blues” summed up how I felt perfectly about certain idols/groups.

I also have to give a shout out to our increasing coverage of K-pop events like the recent articles on SXSW and the overview of SM‘s COEX Artium; I feel like I am vicariously experiencing these events through these recaps. Lastly, I look forward to Chatbox and Buzzbeats because I just love hearing our writers talk about different happenings in the k-pop sphere. Our articles or polls may not always be perfect, but there is something special about this platform that gives exposure to a variety of voices.

Readers, what is your favorite Seoulbeats article?