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