When You Listen to K-Pop
Within the past few years, K-pop has exploded around the world. With their sharp choreography and eye-catching aesthetics, it’s no wonder that so many K-pop groups have become popular. However, there are many misconceptions and prejudices against K-pop made by people who have probably only listened to Gangnam Style. I’m here to de-prove a few myths about K-pop and hopefully widen your knowledge about it.
- “They look gay.”
I don’t have enough fingers to count the amount of times I’ve heard this phrase or a variation of it. I’m sorry but what constitutes someone as gay? Because the male idols wear make up? Because they’re not afraid of physical contact with each other? Because they have a skin-care routine? Just because they don’t fit your standards of heterosexuality doesn’t give you the right to assume their sexuality. One Youtube reactor once reasoned that a male K-pop group was gay because none of the members had facial hair… Since when did being a straight man mean having facial hair? I must have missed the memo. Sometimes, people say they ‘look gay’ like it’s a bad thing. I’m sure there are gay K-pop idols out there. As well as lesbian and queer idols. It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. Just because they look different from the artists you’re use to seeing doesn’t mean they look ‘gay’. Please think about what you want to say before you actually say it.
- “It’s all the same bubble-gum, processed stuff.”
Right, and how many K-pop songs have you listened to? K-pop is a genre, there are many more genres out there such as K-rock, K-hiphop, trot, etc. Even within the K-pop genre, there are many styles and certainly, there’s more than happy, bubblegum songs. Many groups have even tackled sensitive issues such as mental illnesses (e.g. depression, anxiety, etc.) and societal problems (racism, peer pressure, sexism, etc.). K-pop groups can be extremely versatile and can go from doing retro to reggae, rock to ballads, hiphop to pop very quickly. So no, K-pop is not the same thing, you just need to dig a little deeper.
- [Korean Artist] is/are like the Western [Western Artist].”
No, said-artist is not like so and so, they are their own person. Perhaps the two have similar musical styles or personalities but one is not an imitation of the other. The music industry in Korea is very different in the sense the artists are usually trainees before they debut. Sometimes, one can be a trainee for many years and their debut is uncertain. These artists do not shed blood, sweat and tearsfor who-knows-how-long just for them to be compared to someone else.
- “Why do you listen to K-pop if you can’t understand it?”
Why do you listen to Despacito if most of it’s in Spanish? Probably because it sounds good and you like it. Why does it matter if you can’t understand it? Music allows us to surpass boundaries and K-pop is no different. Also, it’s easy enough to search up translations of lyrics on the internet. In 2015, I attended a K-pop concert (BTS) and one of the members, who could speak proficient English, said, ‘I know you guys understand. Even though the language is different, I know you understand’. You don’t have to know a language to understand what a song is trying to convey, you really don’t. Of course it helps but I’ve gotten by just fine. Also, I’ve met some amazing friends through K-pop as it gives us something to bond over. There’s a sense of camaraderie when you find someone who likes the same type of music as you, and I think that’s applicable for music in general, not just K-pop.
I know for a fact a lot of people have said the things above out of ignorance, not malice. Of course, there are people who prefer to be close-minded but the majority of people aren’t like that. I hope this blog has change your mind about K-pop or helped clarify some prejudices about it. I’m not saying you try listening to K-pop after reading this, but I totally am. ;) A warning though, once you fall down the rabbit hole, there’s no coming back.