When I started Magpie, I dreamed of creating a safe haven on the internet. A place where realizations can be expressed, innermost truths brought to light, and vulnerability cherished. A place where authenticity was unapologetic and near holy. A harbor of genuine honesty.
That’s why I feel safe enough to admit my deepest, most shameful guilty pleasure: K-POP.
To be fair, it’s been all of two weeks since I have embraced this new identity of someone who has heard K-Pop once but will defend it for all time.
I too was once like you: skeptical of these perfect robots, curious only about their skin regime and nothing else, confused by their mega-fame in Asia and limited appeal to the States. I was naive, and sheltered, and lied to.
I believe that all US audiences are being gaslighted into rejecting international celebrity culture that fully embraces their countries’ uniqueness, favoring our bland-ass Jessicas and Chad Michaels.
Also America is racist. It’s cool to see celebrities who defy this, like Lupita N’yongo and Priyanka Chopra, who refuse to white-wash themselves or their rich heritage. And I think more than ever before, we’ll see this as Asian stars become more and more acknowledged. Quote me on this: Asian music, movies, and celebrities will be the *ish* in a few years, not just on my adopted side of the world, but also back home because America is going to lose our global hegemonic position of power and influence because no one wants to follow a “taste making” country that puts children in cages.
I think I was judgmental of K-Pop because I didn’t get the beauty standards of the stars (strict, perfect, androgynous, futuristic, with skin that looks like they bathe in amniotic fluid) and thought that there’s no way that a language that sounds as foreign as Korean could be catchy to me. But if the world suddenly acted like they were fluent in Spanish when “Despacito” came out, then there really isn’t an excuse for K-pop to be rejected so entirely by English-speaking audiences.
Anywhooo, all this led to me being hesitant to accept my friend’s invitation when she was offered two free tickets to some Korean band that neither of us had ever heard of. But mama didn’t raise no fool. Free’s free and I was willing to act like I liked K-pop, if just for the evening.
Obviously, it was an almost religious experience, how fast I was converted.
My friend Mandy (a queen who is one of those friends that you immediately like and feel like you’ve known forever), and I pulled up like Donald Trump to a G-7 Summit: out of our element and grossly unprepared to face reality. There were hundreds and hundreds of screaming fans, already crying before the show had even begun, decked out in the official Super Junior pale blue. We were mildly horrified to find out that we were sitting all of four feet from the stage, slouching into our seats like the shameful trash liars we were.
As we were guiltily trying to Google the names of the band members (also the band itself- I’m not proud!), the promo videos started. Girls are screaming and crying over this bizarre intro movie about the band members in various scenes of dashing nothings, like standing dramatically on a balcony or at an abandoned merry-go-round, or in a super expensive car, single tear on cheek. And it was so over-the-top ridiculous and non-sensical that I…loved it?
Suddenly, I’m like “yes that makes perfect sense that they’re suddenly kidnapped by sexy kidnappers” and “sure, they’re all gazing into the camera without blinking for thirty straight seconds, I buy it”. And by the time that the seven Super Juniors went on stage, I was whole-heartedly cheering like they were Beyoncé.
The band consists of 7 members, who yes, had one point referred to themselves as “Korean princes” meeting all their “Filipino princesses” (and me, who I guess is like the “American Colonel Sanders” in this scenario??). Each one embodies a scientifically-crafted persona meant to appeal to some kind of fan base. There’s the bad boy, the intellectual, the artist, the jokester, etc.
I guess our boy bands back in the States do it too but it’s more like “the one who can’t dance”, “the one with a fragile ego who can’t dance”, and “blonde potato”.
I’m like “wow, they’re like beautiful, otherworldly robots” but the more I was watching, the more I began to *dig* them. Then I found out that they’re all over 30 years old but still look like teenagers, which made me think of the Asian Bachelorette.
Mandy and I were bopping along with their melodramatic ballads, intense dance sequences, and of course, weird fan interactions. We were sitting so freaking close that whenever they walked up to our part of the stage, it was all of four feet away.
So we’re like, v visible, which was fine except when one of the members specifically started waving to me.
I’m looking around like “who’s behind me?” and girls are *screaming*. Mandy elbows me real hard and says “Maggie, that’s to you!”. So I’m just like *having this weird personal moment* with a Super Junior, purely, purely because I’m the only white person in the audience, which is *humiliating*. So I’m hesitating because I still feel weird about not even knowing who this guy is when he’s more deliberately like “yea, this is to you!” and reaching his hand out further. So I finally wave back and he smiles and that’s how I’m pretty sure I’m now engaged to a K-Pop member. Specifically this one.
It was apparent that he was kind of the last minute addition, like the one to be the “best friend” type among the super-ripped hot dudes. As a former DUFF, I could relate.
By the end of the concert, I still had no idea what had just happened but Mandy and I couldn’t stop laughing about it. And maybe that’s what I loved more than the fact that it now opened up a whole new country of attractive baes. I loved that the concert felt so foreign, but the night felt so normal. Just going on an adventure with a good friend, trying to see how far our free tickets could get us, and laughing the whole way.
As Super Junior calls their fans, I’m now a proud E.L.F lady. And to Mandy, it’s our Ever-Lasting Friendship (E.L.F) that I treasure most.
That and my imminent proposal from Shin Dong-hee.
Magpie Reviews: 7 (“Korean Princes”)/ 10