The 5 Stages of Becoming a K-Pop Fan


1. The Set-Up

Perhaps you make a new friend who, when asked about his/her favorite music, brightly says, “I’m really into K-pop!” Perhaps you log onto YouTube and discover that a music video of a guy doing a horse dance has billions of views, and you decide to take a closer look. Perhaps you move in with a Korean host family and the first thing you notice is the heart-shaped sign on your host sister’s bedroom that says “BEAST,” though that is definitely not your host sister’s name. (Maybe that last one is just me.)

However it happens, on one fateful day, some fateful incident causes you to innocently inquire, “What is K-pop?”

come in

2. The First Date

Like a first date, your first introduction to K-pop may give you butterflies, or it may be intensely awkward. It may be thrilling or overwhelming or both. Similar to the first time you lay eyes on your date partner, the first time you watch a K-pop music video may set off a barrage of questions in your mind:

“What is he wearing?”
“Oh shoot — I already forgot his/her/all 6 of your name(s)!”
“Such perfect, glowy skin…”
“…but is that his real hair?”
“Okay, first impression isn’t bad — but will it last?”

Perhaps the first date is successful enough that you go for a second — whether it’s a passive “meh, why not” as you allow the YouTube autoplay to carry you to the next video, or a more proactive click-through to the artist’s channel. Maybe it didn’t go so well, so you swipe left and try out a different group. Either way, you are now a fish in the sea of K-pop, even if you haven’t quite reached the deep end of the pool yet.

3. DTR

A crucial stage: defining the relationship.

You’ve played the field. You’ve figured out what you like and dislike. You’ve learned some names and song titles. Now it’s time to make things official. Will you be a Shawol? B2TY? EXO-L? ARMY? Starlight? Will you be a multi-fan, or will you swear your loyalty to only one ultimate bias group? And perhaps an even more important question: which group member will become your bias?

It’s okay to be a little nervous. DTR is a big step. But once you’ve made a commitment, next comes the honeymoon phase of…

4. Puppy Love

Ah, young love. It’s that early stage of the relationship, when you want to see your significant other all the time and you can’t stop thinking about him/her. Except instead of a significant other, this time it’s oppa*.

You listen to their music in the car, in between classes, at the gym, while you do your homework. You watch their music videos on repeat, but still swoon every time. You change your phone and computer background to their pictures. Just the mere thought of them has you like…

Yep. It’s puppy love. But if it’s true love, you’ll stand the test of time and distance to reach the final stage…

5. Serious Long-Term Relationship

You celebrate each group member’s birthday and their debut anniversary every year. You have built up an admirable collection of albums and merchandise, which hold a special place in your room. You can sing along to all of your favorite songs, even if you don’t quite know what the lyrics mean. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to attend a concert or two, where you passionately wave your light stick and scream along with all of the fan chants. Shiny new groups appear on the scene, and you may even like some of their music—but nothing can make your heart stray from your one true love.

Congratulations: you are a seriously committed K-Pop fan!

Soompiers, tell us about your relationship with K-pop! Was it love at first sight? Who stole your heart? Let us know in the comments!

*or unni, hyung, noona, etc.—this article does not intend to address a single gender.

minjiya can usually be found writing in a cafe, blasting K-Pop dance tunes to motivate herself through long runs outside, or plotting her escape from the midwest.