Before this post, my blog has been exclusively about Japanese entertainment culture – anime, manga and cosplay. I’ve decided to make this post to tell you why I’ve decided to also branch out into other areas, such as Korean culture, and for it to serve as a quick introduction to it all if you’re not familiar with it.
I began watching anime back in 2012. Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket and then Vampire Knight. This was also the turning point where I managed to – somehow – get into K-Pop and then Korean culture in general. Sounds a little weird, right? How did I manage to watch Vampire Knight and then become a fan of K-Pop? Well…
Vampire Knight’s OPs were the first anime openings that I really started to play outside of watching the actual series. Sure, Ouran has a great OP as well, but that was hardly playable outside of streaming the next episode (or at least in 15 year old me’s eyes – now I blast it out quite often, not going to lie!) There was just something about the fast, gothic sounds of Vampire Knight that I loved for some reason.
The band that sings the first Vampire Knight OP is ON/OFF – a duo consisting of twin brothers Naoya and Kazuya Sakamoto. I liked the OP to Vampire Knight that much, I decided to pay attention to their other songs as well, or at least those which I could find on YouTube. I slowly became a little obsessed with this duo, for reasons I can’t comprehend now or even then, if I’m completely honest.
My obsession for ON/OFF turned into a slight obsession over J-Pop in general for a while, yet I’m unable to actually pinpoint who I listened to other than the Sakamoto brothers and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and let’s face it, who hasn’t listened to her at some point?
Regardless, what do you do when you become obsessed with something? Post about it on social media, of course. I posted a tweet expressing my new-found love in J-Pop and one of my Twitter friends from Canada saw it. She replied saying “If you like J-Pop so much, maybe you should try K-Pop?” This was an entirely new genre to me – consider the fact that Gangnam Style wasn’t even out yet! – and I did a couple of Google searches on it, although they weren’t really that intense or detailed. It seemed interesting enough, however, so I turned to YouTube again.
Searching for the term “kpop” into YouTube’s massive database these days will give you several videos about K-Pop – “STOLEN K-POP SONGS”, “Top 10 Iconic K-Pop Songs” and “KPOP 2X SPEED DANCE COMPILATION” to name a few – not actual Korean pop music videos. When I did the same search five years ago, Girls’ Generation’s Gee was the first result. It’s safe to say I clicked on it.
What greeted me was not what I expected. It was a lot more colourful than I anticipated, a lot more cute. I certainly didn’t anticipate having 9 girls dancing the same choreography in the same outfits as they were doing. It was so much different than I was used to. My mind was blown, but at this point I still wasn’t impressed. I just thought it was a little weird.
I scrolled down to read some of the comments, like I usually do when watching YouTube videos, when a thumbnail in the suggested videos list caught my eye. Dark colours with five figures easily able to be seen, one with huge angel wings – what is there in that description that isn’t mysterious? Why wouldn’t I have clicked on it?
From the moment the electronic, robotic sound introduced the video with a transition that looked like it, admittedly, comes out of Windows Movie Maker, I was sold. The fact that five, talented young men dancing in puddles and on a rooftop seemed to just come as a a bonus. The close-up shots of the members made me swoon and that was that. The ridiculous chorus didn’t put me off one bit, the thrusting choreography just enticed me to enjoy it more and from that moment on, I became a fan of a boy group called SHINee, with my bias already picked out from that single music video. Little did I know there was literally no escaping the mad world of K-Pop from that point on.
Sure, I’ve had times where I haven’t paid much attention to K-Pop (e.g. September 2015 – September 2016) but now I’m creeping my way back in, I want to express my opinions about the craziness involved, I want to start exploring the parts of Korean culture that I used to be terrible for not keeping up with and there’s many more reasons why I wanted to introduce Korean culture on this blog. I already have some posts planned, so expect some K-Pop reviews (and other related posts) sooner than you might think!