The Korean entertainment industry is washing over the globe at record rates, causing more people to become fans of the Hallyu–the formal word used for the phenomenon. The star of the phenomenon, however, is Korean pop music, or K-pop. From intricate choreography and costumes to high-budget videos and music productions, K-pop has a distinct flavor in the world of music! What about its fans? Is there a calling card of sorts for the K-pop fan? Here are 5 ways to know if you, or a friend, are indeed a true international K-pop fan.
- You Know the Difference Between a Performer and an Idol – Much like any other country, there are various artists in the music industry. For international fans, the dividing line between indie artists and Hallyu Idols is fairly distinct. Idols endure rigorous training pre-debut and maintain tight schedules once they have had their debut. Whereas Idols have powerful corporations dictating what they can and cannot do, other Korean performers have a little more freedom. There are many hard-working and greatly admired performers/indie artists in K-pop, but the Idol takes the cake.
- YouTube is Ruler of the Social Media Kingdom – As an international K-pop fan, you lack the luxury of participating in live fan events and attending performances. The closest you can get is watching videos on YouTube. From here, fans can share links to videos and other exciting media on other social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. Also, many fans flock to popular blog site tumblr.com, where they can interact with more Hallyu fans. Go ahead and level up your fan commitment points once YouTube starts recommending more Korean videos than not.
- You Can Individually Identify Band Members – This is a huge accomplishment, especially for international fans. Sometimes costumes, choreography, or just the sheer number of members in a K-pop band can make it hard to differentiate members from one another. Newbies to K-pop spend a lot of time distinguishing group members by hair color. (This is widely known by long-term fans as NOT the thing to do. No one changes their hair color more than an Idol!) Arriving to the point in your fan appreciation where you can identify each person of a 6-to-13-member group apart is nothing shy of commitment.
- You Can Speak Hallyu Lingo – This is not to be confused with the attempt, both passive and wholehearted–to learn Hangul, the native language of Korea. If you can navigate a conversation with phrases and words,such as the following, then you are truly a fan: OTP, fangirl/fanboy, ships, OST, fan service, and skinship.
- You Own Fan Gear – From albums to posters, calendars and t-shirts, owning fan gear is a hallmark of being an international K-pop fan. More often than not, the international K-pop fan orders items from countries that are hundreds or thousands of miles away. These far distances add up in shipping and handling charges! The domestic Korean fan can simply walk to her or his local retailer and purchase albums, stickers and the likes; and walk out in a mere matter of moments with paraphernalia. The international fan, however, is willing to wait up to 3 weeks for the same thing! As such, it is a popular trend on YouTube to upload videos of an album unboxing, so that fans who are not able to make such a financial commitment can still enjoy the experience.
Now that you have reviewed the list, are you able to say that you’re a true international K-pop fan? What would you add to this list?
You Own Fan Gear
American K-pop fans at KCON 2014 in Los Angeles, CA. The annual convention brings together Hallyu fans from around the country to enjoy Korean food, activities and live entertainment. This event is becoming a must for the international K-pop fan, taking the YouTube experience off the computer screen for the first time.
You Know the Difference Between a Performer and an Idol
Girls’ Generation are a megastar group in the Hallyu and have proven themselves to be strong Idols. The group recently renewed their contracts with SM Entertainment, ensuring more years of performances for their fans.
You Can Identify Individual Members
SM Entertainment kings Super Junior have had as many as 13 members at one time. The all-male group is decent in size in comparison to United Kingdom and American boy bands. In fact, a group with this many people would simply be considered an ensemble theater performance!