Be an Amazing, American K-Pop Fan
The distinctive beats, seizure inducing music videos, infectious dances, and crisp staccato of foreign words spewing from the lips of overly attractive people are all of the telltale signs that one has ventured into the inescapable world of K-Pop. The description may be confused with the likes of rap, jazz, or some new wave metal techno1, but there are many key factors that make K-Pop distinctively K-Pop. While most of what escapes Lil’ Wayne’s mouth is indistinguishable by nearly all English speakers, most would agree that the faces of he and Gucci Mane aren’t exactly GQ material, and jazz music videos are pretty much non-existent. As for the mythical metal techno, it is highly doubted that the dances accompanying that genre are2 more so sweaty, unorganized flailing of limbs than actual choreography. For those that have distinguished that whatever foreign pop genre they have stumbled upon is in fact Korean (hence, the K in K-Pop), it usually decided whether or not this is something to further indulge in. However, one does not simply dabble into this scene, and the addiction to one song will inevitably lead to a near dependency on the genre itself. Claiming to be a K-Pop fan is simple, but to enjoy the experience of liking this foreign music genre, one must understand what it takes to be an amazing, American K-Pop fan.
Step 1: Develop the Proper State of Mind
There are many things that can come in the way of becoming a fan. One of biggest and most challenging is the fan-in-training themselves. Humans, in reality, are ten pound brains operating slabs of meat The mind itself can prevent a person from doing anything. It’s best for potential fans to not psyche themselves out. The brain’s ability to keep a person from doing something can be counteracted. There are three fatal thoughts that can prevent one from becoming a fan:
1. Korean culture is too complicated.
Fans that are idolizing outside of Asia are particularly prone to be confused, or maybe even startled, at some of the things expressed through the music. Of course, reading literal translations of songs or interviews can be frustrating. Even dances some of the dances may seem weird, but please, don’t jump to conclusions and conclude that girls are fanning their hands behind their bums to rid of a flatulent odor. Keep an open mind, and do so some research. That dance is based off of an old Korean saying that basically states that a flirting women is “wagging her tail.” Most of the answers can be found even through the slowest of search engines. The internet isn’t all that scary.3
2. All K-POP songs and artists are alike.
After the initial shock of discovering K-Pop, it is best not to make any assumptions on what other songs and artists will be like. Stumbling upon a Super Junior video and figuring that all K-pop bands have thirteen members4 isn’t the way to go. Most of the groups’ formations are unique - not to mention equipped with endless concepts. While mainstream music in America rarely changes, K-Pop stays true to the term “popular”. The trends evolve. K-pop bands and artist incorporate other genres in their style to make them distinct.
3. It's too time consuming
Being a fan is not a race. Learning some of the culture and discovering which bands seem enjoyable may take some time, but it's not going anywhere. Music, videos, programs, and interviews will be released, but no one says that one must know everything. It's impossible. Don't try to learn cram three years worth of K-pop knowledge inside that precious brain. Get equipped with the essentials and take a deep breath.
Step 2: Prepare Your Pocket
For all of the survivors of the hardest step, step two is kind of a warning. There is a huge expanse of K-Pop merchandise. It's not the basic t-shirt and poster deal. The urge to buy the most random items can actually hit the stingiest of fans. A roll of decorative duct tape may look appealing simply because it has bright colors and an intricate artist logo on it. K-pop fans are it typically broke, and the poor ones manage to get even poorer. It's not only a music addition. It's a shopping addiction also. Living on a budget? K-pop isn't the way to go unless a high level of resistance is present.
Step 3: Label Yourself
With an open mind and tight wallet, it's time to start consuming the “meaty” knowledge. This is what makes a K-pop fan strong. This music scene is predominately bands. While there are soloists, the bands help K-pop feel like a family. Naturally, the fans mimic this behavior by idolizing in fandoms with special names. Majority of the bands have official fan club names, while some do not. A fandom name may have an extensive background or it may be a simple play on words. TVXQ fans, for example, are named Cassies, after the constellation Cassiopeia. The constellation consists of five stars, just like the band had originally consisted of five members. 2NE1 fans are cleverly called Blackjacks because the band name pronounced fast enough sounds like the number 21. For some bands, it's possible to go even further with labeling. Fans with the same favorite member give themselves second names5. It's also possible to title oneself with multiple fandom names. Research all of this information and remember it. It will come in handy later.
Step 3: Use Social Media
Especially for amazing American k-pop fans, social media is our life line. A Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube account are the required minimum. Google Chrome is the preferred browser for the best social media experience. Install Tweet-deck and Xkit through the Chrome Web store. This enhances tweeting and blogging on a completely different level. Both apps eliminate a lot of hassle and cut down on time. Any breaking news and translations in the K-pop scene can monitored through these outlets. To easily reach out and safely6 communicate, use the fandom names in the bio section of these accounts to interact with fellow K-pop fans.
Step 4: Learn the Lingo
The realm of social can be terrifying if one can't understand anything that is put on there – even if it is in the English language. K-Pop lingo is special because it incorporates a lot of random Korean words in conjunction with English. Learning the Korean language isn't necessary, however. There are only a few phrases frequently used. Below is a quick run down on some basic K-Pop lingo. Some if fairly self explanatory.
Aegyo [eg/ee/yo] – cuteness: the act of being cute
Bias – your favorite in a group.
Hallyu – the Korean wave; the increase of Kpop around the world
Hwaiting/Fighting! - a phrase of encouragement
Maknae [mack/nay] – the youngest (in a group)
Omo [oh/mo], Aigoo [I/goo] – oh my gosh
Step 5: The Wrap Up
There it is! All of the basic things needed to be an amazing, American K-pop fan. There are more things needed of course, like patience and online etiquette, but things like this are fairly obvious.7 It truly takes an understanding individual to not allow the cultural barriers to faze them. Remember that you are now amazing fan, and have a reputation to uphold, but you are not the great ones in the situations. K-pop fans are not great. We leave that to our biases. Humble thyself and happy fan-ing!
1That has hopefully not been invented yet for the sake of the elderly and the sensible youth.
3Well, it's not if you know what you're clicking on.
4That's the official number, but even that depends on what music video one is watching. Unofficially there are 15, but only about nine are currently active.
5That's not true for most bands. Very few will have official names for individual members.
6Do not, I repeat, do not give out any personal information. Other internationals fan may be interested in learning about which country you're from, but don't give them an exact address.
7Or at least I hope so....