A short while back I received an email from the London Korean Cultural Centre informing me that I had been given a place to attend the new K-pop Academy. Since it was my last week in Korea at the time, I was rather preoccupied and didn’t give it that much thought…
However, last week Friday rolled round and it dawned on me that not only would the academy be starting on Saturday afternoon…but that I hadn’t even thought about the presentation we were supposed to have prepared and submitted for review on Thursday.
We were not off to a good start.
I whacked my presentation together on Friday night at some ridiculous hour of the morning and fell into bed.
The next morning my alarm went off late, the train service was minimal due to engineering services (are they ever not doing repairs?!) and I barely made it to the centre in time for the start of the first class.
I’m someone who was, speaking bluntly, perfected the art of appearing confidence. I am, in fact, a complete nervous wreck – I simply disguise it well.
I arrived and everyone was already in small groups chatting…I collected my name badge and stood at the side for a few minutes before spotting an empty chair and mustering the courage to join the girls who were sat there chatting.
We got chatting….and wow. I don’t think I’ve ever met such an awesome, accepting group of people.
We chatted about Korea, ‘fan’-ness (I realise I barely classify as a fan compared to these ladies!), favourite groups – and I learnt a new K-pop fan term = ‘bias’, as in “Who’s your bias?” “Oh me? I like Shinee’s Jonghyun!”.
Before long we were all taken into another room where we were presented with fantastic little goody bags containing a book on the evolution of Korean pop music as well as a number of Korean snacks – exactly what I needed after my Korea withdrawal was starting to kick-in~
To help us all get to know each other, we’d been asked to prepare a presentation on ourselves, how we became interested in Korea and our love for K-pop in general.
Goodness – we have some serious K-pop fans here in the UK!
I’d never really considered myself much of a fan…I like K-pop and enjoy listening to it but I don’t really go to fan meets and even when I’ve had the chance to meet popular Korean bands, it’s been pretty relaxed like “Would you mind signing my CD? Could we possibly take a picture?” “If you had to choose, would you be an apple or an orange?”
That kind of thing.
It was really interesting listening to everyone else’s experiences and their way into K-pop.
My interest in K-pop developed as an off-shoot of my friendship with a number of Korean girls in my high school. K-pop was just one of the many things they introduced me to – unfortunately (or not) precedence went to Korean food ^^
For many of my new found friends, their interest came from unexpected youtube search results where one thing just led to another which in turn led to **** band fandom. For others, it evolved from interest in Japanese music / anime culture which spread into interest in Korean music and dramas. Most of my friends have never had the chance to go to Korea….something which makes me feel evermore grateful to my friend who first invited me to her house and made it possible for me to go to Korea that first time four years ago.
One thing that I really loved was the support that we all gave each other. It’s no lie being a K-pop fan in the UK isn’t exactly mainstream here in the UK and a lot of the participants had picked up slack (or been outright bullied like I was) for their interest in Korea because it wasn’t what everyone else was interested in.
And yet, in that room, as everyone openly went crazy for EXO and fought over who was “theirs” – there was no criticism, there was no judgement – only smiles and laughs as everyone relished the fact they were in a room surrounded by people just like themselves.
I don’t mean that in a cheesy way except to say that it was really nice. People could stand up and say how much they loved K-pop, how much they wanted to learn about Korean culture and even learn Korean…without having to fear being judged or prepare their defensive answer for the inevitable question : “Why would you like that??”
After everyone finished their presentation, we got into small groups for what was undoubtedly meant to be a nice, relaxed little “Things about Korea” quiz.
Place a bunch of “Korea” fans in a room together…present them with a quiz with prizes…the result will be anything but nice and relaxed.
In wonderful spirits, we all may have got rather competitive (in the best way possible) – we were all there, jumping up and down and shouting out answers!
Questions varied from naming pictures of Korean foods, naming a number of Korean nouns starting with ㄱ, identifying a number of Korean historical dates and of course, a load of K-pop related questions.
Do you know what TEEN TOP stands for?
No, we, a room full of K-pop fans, didn’t know either!
(If you’re intrigued, see the end of the post where I explain, in unavoidable detail, their name’s meaning. You’ll feel awkward just reading it. Why can a name not just be a name?)
I did feel ever so slightly at an advantage when they were asking us to identify Korean foods (that I’d spent most of the summer eating) or name words in Korean (since I’m the only one who speaks Korean at an advanced level..!) but hell, a competition is a competition.
I did get some fan brownie points however by being able to name all of the members of Girls Generation. Oh Yeah!
My team *ahem* won the competition …. hehe.
With the competition over, it was sadly time for us to all part ways and head home but what a wonderful afternoon! Unfortunately I can’t make this weeks meeting as I’m heading home to Switzerland for the weekend before I start back at university on Monday but I’ll be letting you know how the course went every week after that to stay tuned for more K-pop music mayhem!
As for that Teen Top description.
T = teenager : their average age at debut was 16.3 years
E = emoboy : not as we see it. ‘Emoboy’ is a boy capable of expressing emotion
E = emoticon……no explanation for that!
N = next generation
T = talent : not only in singing but also in dancing and acting?
O = object : everything is their object / target so they are hardworking?!
P = praise : because they receive lots of praise.
I hope you enjoyed that.
Pictures courtesy of the London Korean Cultural Centre