The K-pop genre can be all-consuming for its fans. Updating yourself on the latest news or buying your latest favourite track for your Mp3 player can become so much a part of your daily life that it seems quite funny to think about a time when you weren’t a fan.
Think back for a minute, when was your first encounter of the genre? How did this happen? Has it been a part of your life for so many years that you can’t remember, or are you a relative newbie on the K-pop scene?
It is a question I seem to get frequently from my friends that aren’t familiar with the genre, but is also one that I find very interesting to ask fellow K-pop fans.
I asked a few of the UnitedKpop staff members these questions, these were their answers:
Matthew Bonnan: I first got into K-pop in 2009 when I was on YouTube searching for music to listen to. I had never been interested in Asian music or even Asia in general. And then by some stroke of luck, I saw a link to 2NE1’s ‘Fire’. The thumbnail looked colourful and different so I went ahead and clicked it. I loved it. I knew it was Korean but I didn’t know that it belonged to a genre called Kpop. So then I started searching YouTube for pop music from other outlandish countries: Russia, China, South Africa – practically everywhere, but none of them had the same appeal. So then I started researching 2NE1 and realised that there were many other groups with similarly catchy music. I tried to get my friends interested but they were having none of it. So, I took to Twitter, met lots of other fans and that is how I got here today! Kpop motivated me to learn more about Korea and Asia, so this year I’m doing a degree in Oriental Studies. 🙂
Ella Kaill:I met a girl at my dance class and I saw on facebook that she’d posted a youtube link to her entry to 2NE1’s ‘I Am The Best’ cover contest in 2011~ I watched it and kinda thought it sounded weird but then I searched the actual video and it grew on me xD so she suggested some kpop songs I should listen to and it escalated from there! I think I was drawn in by the music videos and the dancing, mainly because there aren’t really any western artists that focus on dance too ^^.
Freya Bigg: I got into K-pop in 2010 – so later than most – one of my best friends had recently gotten into K-pop in early 2010 and she wanted me to try it and she showed me a photo of UKISS and I refused to listen to them…but somehow ended up googling them and watching an interview where Eli says he likes porn ^^; I still hadn’t heard any songs and said I didn’t want to, so her attempt failed!
Then came attempt two…I went to Japan on an exchange with my school and my sister’s friend was on the trip too so I stuck with her and a few others because I actually knew them. She just so happened to like K-pop too, and rather than asking me if I wanted to hear it, she just played it and I was like…not bad, not bad at all. And she showed me MBLAQ’s ‘Oh Yeah’ and I very much liked Joon’s abs…I think she played UKISS, SHINee, MBLAQ, BEAST, G-Dragon, Taeyang, and SS501 to me. When I came home, MBLAQ was stuck in my head so I asked her the name of the song and that so I could download it and she said ‘Don’t, you’ll become obsessed.’ and I said I would be fine…
Later I ended up with a K-pop playlist that was literally about 5 songs and it was all I wanted to listen to so I deleted the rest of my music and that was that. Now I run a K-pop news site (and have hundreds of K-pop songs) 😛 has to be destiny!
Ting: My first brush with K-pop actually came through Kdramas which I watched in Chinese dubbed format on PCNE channel back in 1998/1999. I only really started to sit down and listen to Korean music in 2005 when I came across TRAX’s cover of Tears from my favourite ever Jrock band X Japan and then realised they did a Korean cover of said track and worked my way from there.
After watching ‘Full House’ in 2006 as a recommendation from a cousin I got into Bi/Rain’s music and discovered SE7EN. Another doorway which lead me to Kpop was hearing the collaboration of Tri-Angle between DBSK, BoA and TRAX. I already knew who BoA and TRAX were (Jpop and Jrock were my main fandoms in the past so it made me notice Koreans singing in Japanese) and watched the video with curiosity. I then decided to get to know DBSK more. ‘Rising Sun’ became my main jam and ‘Hug’ was adorable. I also came across EVE, Nemesis and G.Gorilla, all of which were my introductions to Korean rock alongside TRAX.
Due to an influx of endless fandom drama I decided to take a VERY LONG break from Kpop and Kdrama fandom starting from 2007 and ended up just watching Kdramas whenever I had the time, listening to their soundtracks instead.
I think I got back on track with K-pop in 2011 -albeit cautiously- when I was chatting with my LJ + Twitter friends about certain bands and I started listening to Super Junior. At that time I had been listening to Big Bang as well but wasn’t exactly hooked. Only when I found out about the MTV EMAs and that Big Bang were nominated (and eventually won) did I realise I might have to go back and listen to the band with a more serious ear. When ‘Alive’ was released it changed my perspective and I felt guilty for not getting into Big Bang earlier.
Lisa Griggs: I came across it in 2008 when I was looking through YouTube and was searching for something god knows what when I saw a link for Super Junior’s ‘Don’t Don’. I had liked heavy metal and rock music at this time so the thumbnail looked dark and thought ‘why not’ and clicked it. so watching it but mostly listening at this time because I just thought loads of Asian guys dancing around and looking pretty, whatever but the song interested me at this time. BUT, when I saw Siwon with his don’t don look I was taken and wanted to know more about this group. So after listening to some other songs, then finding the guys cute and different, I explored more and then in a space of a month, when I was watching a korean program called ‘Exploration of the Human Body’ with Super Junior, TVXQ came on the show (this when they were all together in their purple line days) and again I was interested in them and Yunho especially. This lead me to see other music and groups but TVXQ and Yunho have been my bias’ since then which is a staggering 5-6 years now. But, where I am today and what I’m like and my experiences that I’ve taken is all to do with Kpop and I wouldn’t have gone to Korea for a month of a program if I hadn’t stumbled on that amazing Super Junior Music video.
Holly Smith: During the first year of my A-Levels, I had to adjust to a new friend group as a lot of my previously close friends left and we all went our separate ways. Luckily, I had another small friend group that all stayed on to study at A-Level with me and we sort of gravitated towards each other. I felt comfortable with them in a matter of weeks and, as we got closer, I began to look into the Japanese Anime that they all loved so much.
I had never even really considered it before and my past experiences of it only consisted of the classic dubbed Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z on Toonami during the 90s!
Anyone who likes Anime will know their is a big connection of Japanese Music in there. I ended up falling in love with Japanese music, dramas, culture…EVERYTHING as a result. 😛
Then I kept seeing this group called DBSK popping up on the Oricon Charts and I just kept thinking: “Who are they?!”
One of my friends has a cute gif of Jaejoong, I remember thinking he was beautiful!
A couple of weeks later, my friend kept singing “I got yoooou, under my skin!” – eventually I asked her about them and looked up the “Mirotic” MV on YouTube. I was a little bit creeped out by the whole floaty lady tying them up thing…but then I saw the dance version.
I had never seen 5 guys dance such a complicated dance in such synchronisation, I was completely amazed!
It took a while for me to adjust to the genre, I completely hated BIGBANG and was annoyed at the fact that there was so many members in Super Junior, (I mean, HOW do they do it?!)
Then G-Dragon released ‘Heartbreaker’ and I completely fell for him (much later followed by the rest of the group) and SuJu’s ‘Sorry Sorry’ was stuck in my head.
Then I stumbled into the world of Korean Variety shows…and that was only the beginning! 😀
‘Mirotic’ is still one of the best K-Pop songs ever!
Now that some of us have shared our stories, it’s time to share yours!
How did it happen for you?
Do you remember what the first ever K-pop song you heard is?
Leave a comment and let us know!