I think it’s safe to assume that every KPOP fan has experienced the same kind of response at one point in time. We’ve all gotten the same reaction, the same questions thrown at us. Questions like
“Do you even understand what they’re saying?”
“They all sound the same.”
“Why are you listening to Asian music if you’re not even Asian”
I used to hide. I used to keep it hidden. I used to change the music I listened to when I opened my car door. This was something I didn’t want people to see because I knew what they would say. I didn’t want to tell my friends who I’d gone to concerts with because I knew they’d think this was a sudden change in character. I used to say that I lost friends because I loved KPOP.
Truthfully, no, I did not.
In reality, I weeded out the friends who didn’t – or couldn’t – see past my taste in music and judged me for it. That isn’t the kind of crowd I want to keep if you see that I’m listening to music you are unfamiliar with and think of me oddly for it. I fell into this music, and I have no intention of leaving simply because you don’t understand it.
Recently, BTS released a collaboration track with Steve Aoki, a Japanese American DJ who has graced the world with tracks since 1996 before the outburst of Hallyu into the American scene. A DJ whose net worth is estimated at $55 million has chosen to work with a group unknown to American artists before this past year. Aoki is not the first; the Chainsmokers, Desiigner, and other artists are reaching out and connecting with BTS for collaboration tracks. Whether this is for publicity or for genuine interest, here is what this means.
To the people who still don’t understand and to those who questioned the ARMY standing behind BTS or any other fan domain supporting a group overseas – this isn’t even about KPOP anymore,
Our interest and investment has been validated by the artists who you put crowns on, and now they’re sharing the throne with the very scene you looked down upon.
KPOP fans, please be humble about this.
A kingdom is represented not only by the king and queen but the people who reflect their image. What we put out into the world comes back to us, and there is already a sour image on KPOP fans for bad behavior. The history of our actions is not a clean one, and we know it as this is not something easily denied. We know this isn’t the image we need to portray, but regardless, there are things we will face as long term residents of these fandoms.
Expect newcomers and more judgement. Expect to meet people who think they know more than you. Expect the trophies you kept behind curtains to be revealed and displayed. Our domain has been put out into the public eye, and they have no choice but to accept that language cannot be the a valid deciding factor on the music you choose to listen to.
To the fans who have been hiding, your fandom invites you to step out into the light because we no longer listen to our music under a black light only glowing when we’re behind closed doors. Be proud of your interests, run with your peers, sing as loud as you can because we will be singing right beside you. You have no need to be embarrassed or ashamed anymore.
Grab the hand that leads you back to the music you fell in love with.
You’re among friends.