Sophia Kim, Staff Writer

When I was in elementary school, the hype around K-pop started to grow rapidly with the debut of Girl’s Generation and Big Bang. I heard the music everywhere, from Korean markets to restaurants. However, it wasn’t until sixth grade that I became completely immersed into the fan culture after discovering the boy group Beast. I vividly remember scrolling through their music videos on Youtube, completely entranced by their looks, catchy songs and dance performances. Since then, K-pop has remained a crucial part of my life, as it has become my main source of entertainment and the stress relief throughout my tough school years.

Since getting into K-pop, I have attended an SBS K-pop Super Concert, a BTS concert, an AOMG concert, the Korea Times Music Festival and Kcon, a Korean Wave Convention. Regardless of how many times I attended concerts, I still feel nervous and excited anticipating for the approaching concert day. For some concerts, I made signs with my favorite idol’s name on it and waved it around. Other spirited fans bought lightsticks from their official fanclub and even dressed up in K-pop merchandise with their favorite idol’s name printed on their backs.

One of the most memorable moments I had was at Kcon last summer when I had the opportunity to hi-five one of my favorite girl groups, I.O.I. Having watched Produce 101, a survival program which led to their debut, it was fascinating to be able to see these 11 girls close up and greet them. Most of the members of I.O.I. are around my age so I felt a little taken aback to see these young girls accomplish so much already.         

As a K-pop fan, I oftentimes watch YouTube videos of my favorite groups on variety shows. Shows like “Weekly Idol” and “Star Show 360” are solely dedicated to promoting idol groups. Watching these shows allows me to see my favorite idols interact off stage and feel more connected to them. 

Recently, it’s been a trend on social media for YouTubers and Instagrammers to cover K-pop dances and songs. While scrolling through Instagram, I’ve come across hundreds of K-pop dance accounts ranging from a few hundred to thousands of followers. One of my favorite K-pop dance cover groups is called Koreos, a group of UCLA students with a passion for dancing. I’ve seen them perform not only on social media, but at multiple Korean festivals across L.A. With the amount of social media coverage K-pop groups receive from fans, it’s fair to say that the fans have helped popularize the genre internationally.

At Diamond Bar High School, with its high percentage of Asian students, K-pop is undoubtedly one of the most popular music genres. I notice students wearing K-pop sweaters and backpacks to school, in addition to carrying around K-pop stationery. With the growth of the availability of K-pop merchandise online and in-stores, more people are purchasing albums, posters and accessories of their favorite groups.

“[K-pop] is an escape from my daily, boring life,” junior Vanessa Do said. “The music helps me relieve stress and lifts my mood whenever I listen to it.”

Although K-pop groups are recognized for showcasing both their harmonic singing and synchronized dancing, they are also highly praised for their good looks. There are many instances where their attractive looks can overshadow their talent, as some idols are recognized for their beauty and nothing else.    

Despite the love fans show towards K-pop idols internationally, there are many fans that feel the need to hide the fact that they like K-pop. Some DBHS students expressed that the extent some fans go to in order to show their love toward their idols is sometimes a bit excessive and they feel embarrassed to be associated with that. In addition, due to the language barrier, some non-Korean fans feel uncomfortable sharing their love for K-pop around those who do not listen to the genre.

Although the negative stigma attached to being a K-pop fan is coming to an end, this stereotype is still around and many people are starting to become aware of it with the international attention K-pop is receiving.