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The world of Hallyu: Part 1

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

Hallyu, a Chinese word that translates to the term, “Korean Wave” -something that’s been taking the world by storm since the 1990s. Didn’t you ever vibe or dance like a crazy chicken to Gangnam Style? If your answer is yes, then my dear friend, you’ve been hit by the Hallyu wave too. I wouldn’t blame you, Korean culture i.e. pop culture, movies, TV Dramas are almost impossible to resist.

To all my friends out there who are just curious about what the whole hype is about and the ones who live and breathe k-pop and k-drama (me), this one is for you.

As a staunch K-pop & K-drama fan, I can assure you one thing, once you get into it, you’ll be inclined to stay. But today, we’re only gonna talk about the vast and complicated world of K-pop

It all started back in 2008 when the Hallyu wave hit India like a train. Groups like Girls Generation and SHINee created turmoil in India. It wasn’t until 2013 that BTS became a prime group and was loved by millions. In fact, India was the second-highest country in the world to stream the record-breaking single “Dynamite” on its first day of release on Spotify.

Since then, it’s been all about finger hearts and words like “Saranghe” and “Borahae”.

When people think of k-pop, they usually think of BTS or Blackpink, but K-pop isn’t just about the two “It” groups. K-pop is a whole culture. For most, it’s a source of inspiration, hope, happiness, a reason to wake up every morning even. I know what you’re thinking- “This girl’s crazy”. Well, maybe I am...but here’s the thing, everybody has something to hold onto when things get rough, and the k-pop groups I stan are my safe place. A place away from Home.

One thing I know for sure is I don’t just love Kpop because of how GORGEOUS/ SMOKING HOT everyone is, but because every song has an emotion attached to it and they hit really hard, even if I don’t completely understand the language they speak. Being in a k-pop group fandom did me so much good. Not only did I make tons of friends and learn multiple amazing choreographies, but I felt like I had a second family.

Dramatic? Maybe. But I only speak from experience, trust me.

There is a wide range of things that come with K-pop- Biases, ults, lightsticks, fan names, fan chants, promotional performances, reality shows, thirst traps ;) and so much more! They always leave you wanting more. There are multiple other groups you can stan, some of them being- Mamamoo, Itzy, Stray Kids, NCT, EXO, Twice and so many more.

As a k-pop stan some comments I often hear are, “They all look the same”, “You don’t even understand what they are saying”, “They wear makeup and look like girls” and the worst of them all, “They are Gay”. Every time I hear stuff like this, it boils my blood. Not because I look up to them as my role models and respect them, but because it’s highly disrespectful and homophobic.

They DO NOT look the same and wearing makeup and grooming oneself is part of the Korean culture and saying that they are “Gay” for that is just plain disgusting. No one gives you the right to decide what their sexuality is. NO ONE.

What intrigues me is that k-pop idols put their blood, sweat, and tears into each choreography, comeback, or performance to a point that they exhaust themselves to a dangerous level and are ready to do it all over again for the next performance or comeback.

One thing you won’t be able to find elsewhere is the fact that k-pop idols invest a LOT of time interacting with their fans. In the K-pop world, the fans are the highest priority. From fan meetings to constant lives, the idols do everything they can to keep their fan base happy and satisfied.

Although, it has its own highs and lows, as fans can easily start fan wars that can escalate very far very quickly and toxic fans always end up invading their privacy :(

There is good in them too, though. Multiple social causes are supported by large fandoms and huge donations are made by them every now and then.

One thing I hate about the K-pop industry is that there are very strict rules the idols have to abide by. No dating, perfect body, absurd beauty standards, strict diets, coloured hair, no selfies with fans, live in dorms with your groupmates, training, training, and more training.

K-pop idols are marketed to make the fans fall in love with them. Multiple companies they work under even treat them like mere objects which is extremely heartbreaking.

To sum it all up, I just wanna say this. It’s okay if you don’t like K-pop, it’s not for everyone. But what you can do is give it a chance. You know what they say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

See you later! Borahae yorobun ;)

~Navya Jain

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