This might sound ridiculous amid the waves of KPop, but to be honest, I’m zero about Korean pop culture.
I learnt about it during my master program when I took the Media in Asia course. But apart from its historical context, its massive and rapid development, I know nothing. And I’m not a huge fan of it either. In my defence, I have watched some Korean movies and series, such as My Sassy Girl, Miracle in Cell No 7, Train to Busan, and Coffee Prince. And I agree they’re quite good. But those are all I know and those only 😀 .
In terms of music, the only icon I knew was Rain because he was the brand ambassador for a shampoo brand back then so I saw him quite often on TV ads. I know, I know, it’s so last year, don’t judge me 😄 Oh and Psy with his Oppa Gangnam Style, because he’s such a global phenomenon, and who doesn’t know him anyway 😀
Then few months ago I heard about BTS, probably the most popular Korean boyband on earth right now. I had no idea who they were. Never listened to their songs either. I thought they were just like any other KPop groups, but then I heard that they were on the cover of TIME Magazine.
Okay. That was something.
Then I heard that they delivered a speech in the UN.
Wow. Now we’re talking.
That time I said to myself: I have to know this boyband. I don’t want to live in a cave anymore 😄
So I began my “research” last week.
I read an article and started to know that the name BTS was originally an acronym for “Bangtan Sonyeondan,” which means “Bulletproof Boy Scouts” in English. But BTS decided to rebrand their name in 2017 to now mean “Beyond the Scene.” (source: TIME). The same article suggests the introduction to BTS’s music for dummies like me. It says: “If you’re new to BTS, their hits are a good place to start: “DNA,” “Blood Sweat & Tears” and “MIC Drop (Remix).”
But I didn’t follow the suggestion. Haha. Instead, I watched their performance in the 2019 Billboard Music Awards first then their hits original music videos: “Boy with Luv, DNA and Idols.” Then I watched their appearances in Ellen, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, The Graham Norton Show, and Good Morning America.
From there, I learnt that BTS was one of the first K-pop acts to perform at the American Music Awards in November 2017. The group also made history as the first in the genre to take home an award at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards and to perform live at the both 2018 and 2019 Billboard Music Awards (and won the tittle as top group too).
Even in my dummy’s eyes, this is quite something.
I also like the fact that their music touches upon rarely discussed issues such as mental health, troubles of school-age youth, loss, the journey towards loving oneself, and individualism. And their social media power is HUGE. The ARMY (the nickname of their loyal fans) is literally always there for them, ready to flood social media with their love and support. Their dance performances are lovely to watch as well.
So, what is the conclusion?
Well, I can’t say that I’m a fan now. I mean, I still can’t tell the difference between one member to the others 😅 and I don’t really like their concept of masculinity (flower boys are just not my type). But it is safe to say that I’m now more open to this kind of music. I don’t understand the lyrics as they’re mostly in Korean (of course!) but their songs are indeed very catchy, especially the most recent “Boy with Luv”. In fact, I can’t get rid of the “Oh my my my” chorus from my mind while writing this 😀 .
And I think, in a basic level, this is what research for: to understand something we know nothing about before, to rethink of what we thought was right or wrong, to test our assumption. We can’t criticise something without even knowing what it is. And it’s not just in popular culture, it’s in every aspect of human’s live too, if you see my point.
Okay world, now I’m updated!