K-Pop Culture

Why Americans are reluctant to enjoy Asian music

In the past couple of years, Korean fashion and culture have taken off as a trend in the United States. However, many Americans are reluctant to take part in enjoying the Hallyu wave. 

Fans of Korean Pop (K-Pop) have been heavily typecast as obnoxious, disrespectful and intolerant of those that are not fans of their favorite bands. Some people are afraid to enjoy the genre due to the intensity of fans. K-Pop isn’t hard to get into, but it is hard to feel respected by other fans if you don’t know trivial things like your favorite member’s blood type or about songs written years ago by that artist.

However, there is a bigger picture than the fans of the bands you may love or hate. K-Pop is exactly like American pop music with similar melodies, lyrics and themes. Each song is meticulously crafted to appeal to teenagers, an easy target for music agencies to market to. 

The only difference between American music and K-Pop is that K-Pop is sung in Korean with minimal English. While some individuals simply do not like pop music, there is clear objection to listening to music that they don’t understand. Reluctance to branch out exhibits clear racial bias against Korean and Asian culture.

Individuals can say whatever they wish on Twitter for or against any given subject so I asked why Twitter users dislike K-Pop. I received insight from former and current D214 students.

“I like being able to sing along and I don’t understand Korean,” Twitter user @MadisonPayne719 said. TWEET 

“I don’t like K-Pop anymore because it’s generic and toxic.” Twitter user @drew_sooyoung said. 

The notion that a foreign language creates a barrier between artists and their fans masks closed mindedness towards Asian Language barriers have seldom affected the success of musical artists. “Despacito” by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi hit the top of worldwide music charts although it was sung almost completely in Spanish. While the version with Justin Bieber gave “Despacito” its vast amount of fame, Bieber sang his verses in Spanish. The Billboard charts reflected the broken language barrier by the song’s place as number one for 51 non-consecutive weeks. 

The problem lies not with individuals who have listened to K-Pop and decided it wasn’t for them, but the “Antis” (A term used for people that advertise their dislike of K-Pop) that discredit K-Pop without attempting to learn about it. On the other hand, some K-Pop fans’ over investment in idols turns potential fans away from lightly enjoying the genre.

Fans that are unhealthily obsessed with K-Pop groups (Sasaeng fans) turn some away from wanting to join fandoms. They are known to objectify band members and attack non-fans. Crazed fans are a bad example of K-Pop culture. 

Pop culture is heavily centered around the United States market. When aspiring stars want to make it big, they move to the Western part of America for more exposure. Hitting the Billboard charts in America is one of the tell-tale signs of success for an artist.

K-Pop challenges the market that once solely revolved around the tastes and preferences of the standard American consumer. It pushes Americans to broaden horizons. This seems to be why the expansion of Asian culture in America is so resisted. 

K-Pop is only one instance in which some Americans have turned their attention away from foreign “things.” It is pertinent that ignorance stops being an excuse not to branch out and learn about different cultures. 

Opinions of K-Pop should be based less on whether we can understand music and more on the content of the lyrics, which can be translated into any language, and the personalities of the group members. Individuals that have no desire to learn about K-Pop should not actively attempt to turn others against it on account of their own tastes. They should refrain from discrediting the content of the songs since they have no understanding of the lyrics. 

It is perfectly valid to dislike certain aspects of pop culture, but not without a reason that evaluates the actual music and not the culture behind it. This can be compared to hip-hop in the sense that the music is often given the connotation of a violent type of music even though much of it is based on word play and storytelling. K-pop is like any other genre of music and it should be treated as such.

American society needs to stop focusing on the traits of music and culture that differentiates groups of people and begin unifying the world through music. Listening to music with an open mind educates individuals on culture. It promotes tolerance towards other communities and promotes understanding of differentiating groups of people.