People almost always have some kind of reaction towards the term. It can be a kindred squeal, a roll-of-the-eye, or a nonchalant shrug. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I took it upon myself, a K-pop fan, to refute a number of the ridiculous assumptions made about us.
- If you’re a K-pop fan, you have no taste in music.
First things first, everyone has their own preferences. Taste in music, like beauty, is subjective. However, I find it wrong to generalize K-pop fans as tone-deaf hillbillies, or at the very least, people who have a very shallow appreciation of music. As a matter of fact, I know a number of people from reputable music conservatories who are avid listeners of K-pop.
If you actually take a good listen to K-pop, there are a number of artists that produce sick beats and catchy melodies (TRY: Autumn Leaves by BTS, What You Waiting For by Anda x R.Tee). If you take the time to read the translations of those songs, there are those that talk about issues like depression or social media addiction (e.g. Noir by Sunmi). There are even a few gems with arrangements that leave even the most skilled musicians I know squeal in awe (e.g. Run by Lee Jin-ah). K-pop is more than just autotune and jibberish.
- But they can’t sing?! Are you sure you really have taste?
As a musician, I agree that not all K-pop idols have the most pleasant vocal technique. (But if you are looking for vocal powerhouses, take a good listen to SNSD’s Taeyeon or Mamamoo. They will blow you away).
But K-pop goes beyond voices. Some people like K-pop because they like to listen to the instrumentation and the melodies. Some people are in it for the rap. Some people even like K-pop just to see how the choreography complements the song. How you appreciate music is also subjective. While the voice is a basic element, the music goes beyond the singer. (I’m a musician and I play in a band, that doesn’t make me any less of an artist just because I’m not the lead singer, right?)
- If you’re a K-pop fan, you don’t support OPM.
Music, in my opinion, is not a mutually exclusive thing. I, for one, have a number of musical influences. I go from K-pop to OPM, from anime soundtracks to musical theatre. It all depends on my mood. I can support both K-pop and OPM. Music is music, it’s not something you pit against each other.
Moreover, I know people Filipino indie artists who also listen to K-pop. For them, K-pop is just another musical influence that adds depth to their repertoire. When you look at it from a musical perspective, it’s impressive how much K-pop has penetrated globally; and as a musician, this is something you want to study and add to the music you create.
- If you’re a K-pop fan, you’re a good dancer.
It’s true that most K-pop songs include choreography. It’s also true that a lot of K-pop fans memorize that choreography to support the artist they like. But, no, not all K-pop fans can dance. We can try, but we can’t promise we dance well.
Being a fan of something doesn’t automatically make you good at what you’re a fan of. I’m a fan of basketball, but I don’t actually play. Same principle. Still, I think as most K-pop fans keep practicing the choreography of their favorite Korean artists, some actually do get good at dancing with time.
- K-pop fans only listen to K-pop because the idols are good-looking.
Most people come up with this assumption because international fans like me don’t really understand what they’re singing about. So it could only mean we’re in it for the looks, right?
Let me debunk something. I think that appreciating something beautiful is not wrong. If the guy looks good, I like it. That’s me.
However, not all K-pop fans are in it for the appearance. Because of social media, K-pop idols have the opportunity to live-stream and become more open about their personal lives to their fans. Given that peek of “intimacy”, most fans also listen to K-pop because they like the idol’s personality. Other fans listen to K-pop just for the music. The good looks are just a bonus.
(RELATED: 7 Reasons Why I Go to K-Pop Conventions)
- If you’re a K-pop fan, you have yellow fever.
These comments are usually directed at international fans who are outside Asia. For those of you who are unaware of the term, “yellow fever” is slang for people, usually of Caucasian descent, who are sexually attracted to people of Asian descent.
While who you desire to be with sexually may be influenced by the things you like or dislike, being a fan of the K-pop genre doesn’t automatically mean you would want to get in bed with every Korean man or woman you see. Sexual attraction is still subjective to the individual, not the fandom.
- K-pop fans force other people to like K-pop as well.
I will not deny that there are some fans out there who bite if you don’t like what they like as well. Some fans can be mean and will tear down anyone who talks ill of what they like. But honestly, I think that forcing what you like on other people is foolish and immature. Still, I think it’s wrong to generalize that all K-pop fans do that.
Yes, I’m a K-pop fan. No, I will not force you to listen to BTS. No, I will not hate you if you don’t like what I like. But, if you ask me what I like about them, I will enthusiastically explain. Some people mistake K-pop fans’ enthusiasm to be too overbearing. But honestly, most of the time, it’s not that we’re forcing you. It’s just that we’re excited to talk about the things we like.
- K-pop fans only think about K-pop, nothing else.
Indeed, there is a medical condition called addiction. This obsessive need can refer to addiction to sex, drugs, alcohol, or in some cases, pop culture. But, just because there are unique cases of people who are addicted to K-pop (i.e. sasaeng fans who need actual medical attention) doesn’t mean that all K-pop fans are automatically addicts.
People tend to get that assumption because K-pop fans buy their idols’ merchandise or buy plane tickets just to see concerts. But it’s not an addiction, it’s a hobby. Similar to an avid gym-goer who spends hours lifting weights or a veteran musician who splurges on guitar gear, K-pop fans also invest to support their hobby. This investment can take the form of material things or time. It’s nothing alarming. It simply makes us happy to buy the albums and to go to fan-meetings.
But take note, that anything in excess is always bad. As long as we spend in moderation and within our means, as long as we know how to prioritize our needs, we’re good. This applies to everyone, not just K-pop fans.
- If you’re a K-pop fan, you automatically like BTS.
While I am indeed a fan of BTS, I am also aware that K-pop goes beyond BTS. There are a number of artists who have gone before, and a number of up-and-coming artists who are doing great now.
I have friends who are fans of BTS, but I also have friends who are fans of K-pop but not fans of BTS. K-pop isn’t just one band, it’s a whole industry of talented and hard-working individuals. That’s what makes K-pop so endearing. There is a world of artistry and musical talent to explore and choose from that goes beyond seven guys.
- If you’re a K-pop fan, you like gay guys.
This comment usually comes from the fact that a lot of people call idols “gay” because of how “girly” they look. First of all, that’s the peak of narrow-mindedness.
Let me break it down.
First, let’s tackle the superficial. K-pop idols, male or female, have to wear make-up because they’re performers. So it’s not just K-pop idols, it’s theatre actors, it’s indie rock bands, it’s hosts, it’s basically anyone that needs to stand in front of a camera.
Second, it’s not my place as a fan to judge the sexual preference of the Korean idol I like. Whether the idol’s gay, bi, or wherever in the spectrum he or she may be, I will support the idol because of his or her art, and not his gender.
Third, and on a deeper level, I find it offensive that some people actually think “liking gay guys” is an insult. So what if the idol comes out as gay? That doesn’t make him or her any less talented, and that doesn’t discount the fans’ appreciation of their art. Whoever they like doesn’t matter, we’re in it for the music. We’re fans of the art, not the fetish.
That’s just a few of the world’s opinions of us. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
This article isn’t to bring anyone down. It’s just my attempt to get others to understand our side better. Let’s stop generalizing. Let’s stop the hate. Everyone can enjoy what they like the way they like. Let’s keep it that way. 🙂