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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Waseda chapter.

From the several articles that I have written on either K-pop music or my favorite group BTS, I can humbly say that I know the gist about this blooming genre of music worldwide. K-pop has been a part of my life for about a decade, and there are some things that I have learned from listening to K-pop music and understanding its underlying culture.

I used to be a moody, unconfident, and shy girl. I wouldn’t say that I have transformed 180 degrees over the past few years, yet I can sense my change in terms of confidence and personality. Some of you may have heard of the ‘Love Myself’ campaign that BTS launched with UNICEF. As I dug a bit more into learning what this campaign signified, it changed me.

K-pop never seemed to be treated as a ‘big deal’ back in the 2010s, and probably no one expected this genre to have grown this much over these years. K-pop is no longer rowdy music. It holds a much deeper meaning – it heals our hearts and helps us grow. The Love Myself campaign made me realize how unique I am, and how I should learn to embrace myself and treat myself better. I have become a happier, less moody, and more confident person overall.

Now, back to emotions – what is the purpose for people to listen to music? You might listen to music to pump up your spirit, help you relax, relieve a painful memory, or make you stay focused when studying. Of course, I listen to a wide variety of music ranging from Mandopop to Linkin Park. Yet K-pop has this magical power, I would say, to fulfill all types of emotions that you want to feel.

close-up of woman holding white headphones around her neck
When I need some relaxation, I find Jimin’s (BTS) solo song promise or serendipity to be my answer. When I need some boost of energy, I seek GOT7’s hard carry instead. When I feel somewhat down, I listen to Stray Kids’ neverending story. When I’m heading home on a dark, lonely night, I go for BTS’ Zero O’Clock. And when I need motivation, I listen to Stray Kids’ grow up. Okay, I think you get the idea.

Stepping back from discussing the music itself, the K-pop fandoms are also rather interesting. I promise I won’t dive into too much detail. The ecosystem of fandoms in K-pop has altered so much these years, and I think it would be fair to say that some parts of this pond are quite figuratively, polluted. Observing the gigantic fandoms and the smaller fandoms, and how they interact – I have learned that ‘you lose when you get too serious’. To be honest, I was only a step away from becoming a hater – or you can also say how I try my best to protect my favorite group and fight with other fandoms. Fortunately, I didn’t go astray, and I still adore my favorite groups. Fandoms wars are ongoing 24/7 now, and it is very disappointing to see this ugly, messy, and distorted phenomenon from the perspective of a long-term K-pop fan.

Thank you for listening to my speech on K-pop music and culture. K-pop made me realize how a foreign music genre I have been following for so long can make me learn lessons and make me become a better person! So to conclude – K-pop has taught me to stay genuine, love myself, and lean on it when I need it the most – in a positive way.

KPop overdose 24/7, amateur foodie, NBA addict, and ambivert Taiwanese International.