Standing Up for K-Pop: “How can you love someone you didn’t know?”

Standing Up for K-Pop: “How can you love someone you didn’t know?”

(Image Src: Girls Generation’s Taeyeon Instagram, posted on Dec. 18, 2018)


Article by SHINee USA Admin


As I was driving to work today listening to SHINee’s “Last Gift” (The SHINee World, 2008), I had a lot thoughts because of the date, Dec. 18th. “I don’t know why I can’t move on… My feet won’t budge.” A year has passed. And a lot of Shawols have probably spent the past year hearing the same question: “Why do you even care about someone you never knew?” To those people I imagine many Shawols snapped, “Mind your own business.”

Thinking about this, another age-old companion question came to mind: “How can you love music you can’t understand?” We’ve all heard this at some point right? The obvious answer is: “We look up the lyrics!” … But I thought about why I loved K-Pop, why I was drawn to it. For those of us who didn’t grow up in a Korean family or with Korean friends, I think many of us came across K-Pop at some point because of the spectacle. The presentation is lavish. An empowered posse of young women standing strong, taking on the world. Young men in gender-barrier-breaking fashion who dance in extreme unison. The music thrives on modern pop earworms that seamlessly blend many genres. If you thought you hated a genre before, there’s probably at least one K-Pop song that will make you change your mind about it. I think K-Pop could even make me like Country music.



However, beyond the hype and the glitz and the glam, there’s something else that makes fans come to K-Pop and stay. And that’s the humanity that the many hundreds (now thousands) of Korean idols present to the world. There’s a sincerity to the way they pursue their craft that in turn builds a connection with the audience. If you’re lucky, your personal music/visual taste aligns with an artist who has a genuine soul. Someone who bares their heart to the world and pours their souls into their craft. From this, a music or an image or a performance comes to our eyes and ears like a gem. And it’s a gem that gets shared with millions. It’s actually a really precious thing – to be able to receive music… to receive someone’s heart.


We aren’t just staring at beautiful young men and women, we’re watching people who have dreams and goals and desires that mirror our own. They express this daily through social media or other platforms that they use to reach fans. In essence, we as fans are being invited – to some degree – into the lives of these singers. We cheer for them. We cry with them. Their win is our win because we supported them along the way. And their pain is our pain because we’ve been with them together on this journey through the years.


“I promise you. In fact, I’ll write you a guarantee! The most beautiful thing in all the world is right now. This moment. You. Don’t ever forget that.” – Jonghyun, Blue Night Closing Ment 140309 (LISTEN – Closing Ment Start: 1:46:28 | Quote: 1:48:24) [Full Trans Src]



It would not be a stretch to say that over time, these singers almost become like a best friend. Their music comforts us when we’re sad, their happiness cheers us up on dull days. Whatever joy that seems to have been sucked out of our day-to-day life, they effortlessly put back in for us. In return we send them letters and messages of adoration to give them strength on their long days. We want others to cherish them the same way we do because of how much their spirit and energy moves us. I don’t think any of this is limited to K-Pop though and that’s why I write about these feelings so broadly. You can apply it to actors, novelists – really any form of popular media. What’s precious remains precious regardless of time, age, race, or language.

The videos I chose to accompany this bit of personal writing all features SHINee & Jonghyun’s relationship with their fans, Shawols. I’ve always felt that there exists between SHINee and SHINee World a special bond that transcends a typical fan/artist connection. If I were to pass a SHINee member on the street – even though we haven’t spoken to each other once – I would think of them like family. Whether they know it or not, they’ve been in my home, life, and heart for many years now. We’ve been together through love and pain and will continue to write many more pages together while cherishing and reminiscing about the pages already written.


“We’ll meet again. Even if you and I did not meet that time (day), we would have surely met one day.” – Jonghyun, Blue Night 170403


SHINee USA: About Jonghyun (short)
SHINee USA: Jonghyun Bio (long)


13 thoughts on “Standing Up for K-Pop: “How can you love someone you didn’t know?””

  • I call Jjong, Onew, Minho, Key, and Taemin my boys, my babies, my bff — this is no ordinary fan-idol relationship. They are family.

  • this is beautifully written and really expresses in words how so many of us feel in our hearts. thank you for writing it and expressing what i cannot write but surely feel in my heart.

  • The Boys!! I wonder how they are doing today. This runs through my mind on many days. They mainly bring me Joy but during this week sorrow because Jonghyun is no longer here using his gift. I am thankful that SHINee continues. I am glad that the remaining members brought us more of themselves this year. I hope that they continue doing their own things and doing music as SHINee. They are an inspiration to to others in what they do. I hope this continues for Many years to come.

    I’m an older Shawol and it still amazes me that their music and who they are can touch a Wide range of people. When going to concerts you see this. In the venue you will have ages 8 through 70, nationalities ranging from (can we just say all), gender (all). Do you get my point! There is just LOVE!!

    So Boys keep doing your thing! This Shawol will continue supporting in the way that I can so that they will hopefully will fill that Love back!

  • This is a beautiful post–and true. I was introduced to K Pop in 2004 by a friend, In 2008 SHINee came along with their wonderful personalities and sound, and I have been devoted to them ever since. So last December, it was truly as if I had lost a personal friend. He was a friend, although he may not have known it, his words and music lifted me up in times that were particularly harsh for me.

  • Thank you for explaining the specialness of k-pop so well. A whole nation grieved for John F. Kennedy….and they didn’t know him. (Yes, I am old enough to remember) Jonghyun died on my son’s birthday so it is a bittersweet day. Never even got to see him perform live but I think and pray for him often…and all the souls overwhelmed with depression issues. But what a wonderful body of work he left us to listen, watch and dance to over and over. His values, sensitivity and bravery is an example to all of us. Everyone dies…but not everyone has lived as fully in a long life as he did in his 27 years.

  • I have to share this to my sister who could not simply understand why I am hooked on k-pop at the overripe age of 66. This beautifully written piece of article is so worded in a way that will explain to her what I could not express in words. And thank you so much for choosing to feature Shinee, and our beloved Jonghyun.

    • So glad to learn that I am not the only mature (age wise) Shinee Fan & K-pop fan. I came here to join but thought that everyone here would think that a woman my age (55) loving Shinee and Kpop would be like…ewwww . So I was just getting ready to click out of the site until your comment caught my eye. So now I will join!! I just need to figure out how….lol since I am not very techy…haha. Also I loved the article. It was beautifully written.

      • Hello Sheila! So sorry, it’s only today March 20, 2019 that I saw and read your reply to my comment. Yes, please do join the ranks of happy Shawols (short for Shinee World, the fandom’s name). We have a fan page called Shinee World International and its motto it “No hate, Just Love” Our love for the boys keep us glued together, even though at times we have our share of petty arguments. But that is being real and authentic!

        • Hi, I am so happy to get your message. It turns out we about the same age. I was born in 63. I am trying to join The official Shinee fan club. I have the basic but I am having all kinds of trouble trying to get the Ace membership…lol…my daughters got me into kpop, 2 are EXO L and one is a Monsta X and Ikon fan. I was originally supposed to be an EXO L (or that is what my daughters were hoping) and so one weekend I was trying to learn all of EXOs names (my daughters were telling me I needed to learn EXOs names and they would even test me on it) and I clicked on a YouTube video that I thought was a EXO one, because I saw the name Luhan, but it turned out to be Lucifer by Shinee and Luhan was just filling in. I immediately LOVED the song, then the next video I saw was Shinees reaction to EXOs Twilight inspired mini drama (for lack of a better word) and one look at a beautiful man with blonde hair and THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SMILE and I was hooked… What state do you live in? I am in AZ. I hope to hear from you again. I have not met anyone my age who stans Shinee, let alone Kpop.

        • Hello Sheila and Evangeline and all Shawols of” vintage” years,
          I, too, am well beyond Teen-something, and Twenty-something, and Thirty-something—-and so on. Age does not lessen appreciation of talent and genius, especially with music. I work and walk and relax to Kpop, especially SHINee. From Taemin to Onew (age-wise) I love them all.
          I’ve been a Kpop fan since 2004, when I became long-distance friends with a boy in the business. I have loved SS501 and TVXQ to start, and then SuJu, and of course SHINee. After all these years, SHINee is my favorite, and I always choose their music on my daily walks.
          It’s so good to know that I’m not alone here. Where I live, I know of no Kpop fans, since I don’t teach anymore, and people in my generation in my rural area mostly listen to Country music . So, it’s hard to share my enthusiasm. I’m glad that some of us have found SHINeeUSA, with its devoted administrators. We are lucky.

          • Welcome aboard Sheila and Marie! I am worried that our exchanges might fill up the pages of this fan site, so hooked up with me via Facebook. By the way, I am from the Philippines. I have a sister who lives in Minnesota; and throughout my one-month stay in her place last year, I felt like a “square peg in a round hole” (Hope I got the idiomatic expression right).

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