I am a Filipino American male, and I was living on my own in Silicon Valley. I was working in the Tech industry at the time, and during my spare time, I wanted to learn more about my own culture, especially the language. For me, it was easiest to learn the language through TV shows, movies, and music. It was something I could do during my spare time, and I could then practice while speaking to my parents, who lived in Hawaii. I would have weekly conversations with them over the phone. One of my favorite shows to watch every Saturday afternoon was Maalaala Mo Kaya (Would You Remember?). It was also known as MMK or Memories.
MMK was a Philippine drama series based on actual letters submitted by viewers about their lives. Sometimes the episode was about a celebrity and sometimes it was just your average person, somebody who could be your neighbor. It was a show that people could relate to, with stories of ordinary people like themselves. One of the MMK episodes was about Sandara Park, Korean born, who moved to the Philippines at a young age with her family due to financial problems. It was a very inspirational story of her and her family’s struggles. Imagine moving to a foreign country with very little money and not even knowing the language. Music was a way for Sandara to express herself. It was something that brought her happiness in a very stressful time. Her hard work paid off as she became a successful music artist and actress in the Philippines. She eventually moved back to Korea where she became a K-pop trainee at YG entertainment. I looked forward to the debut of the girl group she was in.
I knew nothing about K-pop music or the industry, I was just excited to see Sandara perform. YG entertainment would always send out teasers for each member of 2NE1 on YouTube. Just little snippets of them training to help create anticipation of their debut. Another tactic YG uses is having rookie artists perform with veteran idol groups prior to their debut. Since these veteran idol groups already have large followings, a lot of them will tend to support the rookie groups as well.
Due to my hectic schedule, I missed the live debut performance. The first music video of 2NE1 I saw was for the song “Fire” street version. It was my first real exposure to Kpop. It was different but exciting at the same time. After watching that video, I wanted to learn more about the other group members and the agency they represented, YG entertainment. YG did an excellent job in promoting 2NE1, by creating 2NE1 TV. The girl’s daily lives would be followed and documented for everyone to see. This made fans feel like they are a part of their lives—when they laugh, you laugh, and when they cry, you cry. You always wanted them to succeed in whatever they did, watching them grow from trainees to becoming K-pop idols. I started following other YG artists, as well as artists from other agencies. My love for Kpop grew from that point.
In 2014, I, unfortunately, had a major stroke, I had to quit a job I loved, and I had a long journey to recovery. My days were now filled with painful rehab learning how to do the most basic things, such as walking, tying my shoes, writing, etc. Things we take for granted. One thing that helped me in terms of the pain and depression was music. They say music feeds the soul. It truly does. They said anytime you feel depressed, do something that makes you happy, and KPOP music did that for me. I would get thru a song on my IPOD not realizing how many steps I took that day. It made that journey to recovery a little easier and my goal to live a somewhat normal life again possible.
I wanted to create a blog. My goal of the blog is to bring KPOP fans in the United States together to help promote something we love, the fan base in the US is definitely out there as Kpop concert events and conventions such as KCON often sell out. If you go on YouTube alone, you will find hundreds of people doing cover songs of their favorite Kpop artists as well as reaction videos of the newest music videos to come out. Even some future Kpop artists are discovered on YouTube doing these cover songs. I thought it would be great to have a platform to discuss different topics of Kpop. I think if we can convert one person to Kpop, it would be the greatest way to promote it. For hardcore Kpop fans, Kpop is Life.
Image Courtesy By Steevven via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)