As a young Mexican girl obsessed with Korean pop culture, people have questioned why I listen to K-pop music. They don’t understand when they see me dancing or singing along to it. But I’m not the only non-Korean fan. After K-pop star PSY’shit song, Gangnam Style,hit the American charts in 2012, K-pop seems to have found a home in the hearts of many Westside Long Beach teenagers.
Before K-pop, I didn’t have any music interest that I felt could represent who I was. But then I discoveredK-pop idol,Kim Hyun-Joong.Not only did I find him handsome and a great artist, I realized that I loved K-pop music! No music that could fill my heart with emotions the wayK-pop does.Now, my music library is 95 percent K-pop. My favorite group is Girls’ Generation, also known as So Nyu Shi Dae or SNSD, which consists of 9 members: Taeyeon (Leader), Yoona, Hyoyeon, Seohyun, Tiffany, Yuri, Jessica, Sunny and Sooyoung. My personal favorite is Taeyeon, the main vocalist. Girls’ Generation debuted in 2007, under company SM Entertainment, with their single “Into the New World.” Ever since their debut, every album they have released has become a hit, topping many music charts for weeks. They are also known to be one of, if not, the most successful K-pop girl groups in the industry’s history.
While K-pop does draw many similarities to American pop, especially with boy bands like Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC, the music seems even catchier and the video and album concepts even more dramatic. In K-pop, the “concept” is what dreams are made of. There is no limit to how far a pop group will go to succeed. For instance, the all-girl South Korean pop group Kara has had album concepts that ranged from “fun-party” to a “Stealer” concept that themed all songs and images to things the band members wanted to steal.
From 2008 to 2012, total K-pop exports in the U.S. grew from $16.5 million to a staggering $235 million and numbers continue to skyrocket. From Cambodian to Mexican to Filipino, my Long Beach friends prove that K-pop is no longer just for Koreans. Some people question why we listen to music we don’t understand when they see us singing or dancing along to it, but check out the words from the young people below and you’ll see why we think K-pop is for everyone.
“I have met many other K-pop fans from other countries and backgrounds. K-pop is getting [popular] all over the world because people are drawn to the fact that it is something completely different from the norm, but still relatable due to its musical style. K-pop allows the fans to break down cultural barriers amongst themselves.” –Yadira Gatica, 18. Mexican American
“It’s fun to listen to, something new that actually makes me want to get up and dance.My favorite group is EXO. The energy the band gives is great and they’ve also got this addicting rhythm that gets you hooked.” – Ana Murillo, 17. Mexican American
“I listen to more K-R&B and K-Hip Hop. I really like the beat and rhythm of the songs I listen to. Just the feeling of the song alone is enough to tell the listener what the song is generally about.” – Christian Rogacion, 17. Filipino American
“They can be more fun and make you just brighten up and smile. It has a certain flare. Once you listen to K-pop, you soon start watching Korean Dramas, Korean Variety Shows, and [learn] the Korean language itself. You understand more of the Korean life.”– Jordan Morales, 16. Mexican American
“[K-pop] is popular in Long Beach because [many people] promote it. There are lots of K-pop student clubs that love to perform at Wilson and Poly high schools. They say K-pop brings people together, which is true because everyone can befan boy and fan girl about groups they like. H.O.T. is my favorite group and was the first K-pop group to set the standards of what a real K-pop group is.” – Matthew Yan, 18. Khmer/Chinese American