I was fascinated by the comments responding to an article on Omona discussing the age groups of Kpop fans in Korea and overseas. It then got me thinking – should there be an age limit on being a fan of something catchy and infectious like Kpop music?
Recently I was on the bus and spotted a woman in her forties dressed from head to toe in a lot of eye-catching merchandise of a well-known British boyband. I wasn’t sure if the bag, coat and cap she wore belonged to her or maybe her daughter since I forgot to ask her where she got the goodies. What I clearly noticed before she got off the bus was that she was unafraid to show off her appreciation for this band. She didn’t care about the odd stares from people around her. How far can older music fans go when it comes to being a fan of a much younger music act. How old is too old? Should Kpop only be for teenagers or young, university students?
If I was still aged 15 and got into Kpop back in the early 90s right next to my binge of Western pop music from the same time period, I definitely see myself as a massive Shinhwa fangirl. I’d do what most young girls often did and stick posters all over my wall or beg my parents to buy me official merchandise each time they came out. The same thing could be applied if I was a teenager in this new millennium. I’d go all out and call my favourite idols Oppa non-stop on their social network sites. In some way I’d feel it’s okay or that I’m entitled to do these youthful gestures.
In my current state of Kpop fangirling, I’ve broken my personal barrier of going for male musicians who could be my Oppa. This is a huge surprise for me because in the years I’ve ever fangirled famous people they tend to be my age or older. Somehow Kpop tore this mindset down and introduced me to younger talent I couldn’t help liking. At this age I can’t call my latest ‘biases’ Oppa. They’re my “Nam Dong Saeng” no matter what. I have to be realistic and at times need to draw the line on my insane fangirling towards those who are very young (Sorry Zelo *pats his head*). Aside from K-rock bands like EVE and Nemesis, Shinhwa and Rain are the few Kpop Oppas I have. Rain came first because I saw him in Full House and listened to his music non-stop before he went to the military.
So what’s changed my perspective since getting back into Kpop lately? I blame BIGBANG. I swore not to get into TOP after noticing him in Iris for the first time but I couldn’t resist doing quick research on him because I was curious to find out who this handsome guy was. I was shocked to find out he was not just an actor but a popular music idol who was younger than me by a few years. Young people these days either grow up fast or had the opportunity to mature quickly without restrictions from their childhood. Lucky them.
In the past I didn’t pay attention to BIGBANG‘s music much, even though I had listened to a few of their mini albums. It wasn’t until they won the Best Worldwide Act award at the MTV EMAs 2011 did things change and the Alive album was released. When I started listening to the Alive and Still Alive albums more seriously I fell in love with Fantastic Baby and Monster. Weeks later Monster suddenly went on repeat. A LOT.
From that point in the year 2012 I then understood what I had been missing out on during my breakup from Kpop…and I say this as someone who tends to be picky on the music I choose to listen to when it comes to any genre. No matter how hard I tried to not fancy these five *younger* guys and appreciate their musical talent it was too difficult. They had caught me in their web. I just gave in and started religiously listening to BIGBANG‘s entire discography from the beginning till I became a VIP. The fangirling prompted me to buy two tickets to both said band’s concerts at Wembley in December 2012.
I thought my fellow VIP friend and I would feel awkward with all these younger fanboys and fangirls around us. It turned out there were VIPs in our age group lurking around the venue when I observed the crowd more carefully. We had a few fellow Noonas queuing in front of us while waiting for Saturday’s soundcheck to start. I suddenly realised it was okay to be a *Noona* fangirl
though I feel like I’ve jumped to Ahjumma stage already. Seeing older women be just as crazy about their favourite band members reassured me I wasn’t mental to be fancying younger Korean musicians while enjoying their music.
It also reminded me that there are crazy fans out there regardless of whether they’re teenagers or full-grown adults who are family people. It’s fine if you’re a Kpop fan in their 30s or slightly older to flail excitedly if you can’t help it – just do it maturely and sensibly but not forget in the back of your mind you are over 18 and an adult. Don’t make yourself look like an elitist just because you’re “mature” (and the same can be said to the younger fans – don’t think you’re any better than the older folk).
I acknowledge that Kpop revives the inner young fangirl feeling I once had as an adolescent. It’s one of my musical routes of escapism, if not a major guilty pleasure next to my cheesy music collection. It’s there for me when I want a break from my action-packed trip to the world of symphonic metal. I suppose having a subtle Peter Pan Complex/inner Aegyo would also enhance the random Kpop flailing when I least expect it. I’m a Noona fangirl because it brings back some of my youthful enthusiasm I missed out on in the past when it came to enjoying hobbies or personal interests. It’s all for fun and I do not expect much from my Dong Saeng…not even actual fan service in front of my face at a live concert (I’d like to think G-Dragon hypnotised me at Wembley for five minutes when he looked in my direction or into my eyes though I really doubt it happened). In a nutshell I listen to Kpop and fangirl idols because I get cheered up from bleary routines I have to go through each day.
So to Kpop fans in their 20s who say they’re getting old or think they’re too old to fangirl/fanboy younger idols…you are NOT old. You are STILL young and have all the time in the world. You’ve got what I don’t have and that is passion and ambition.
In case you’re wondering how old I am…I’ll just say I am the same age as the actor Kim Jae Wook and Super Junior‘s Leeteuk and Heechul.