How To Explain K-Pop To Your Non-Fan Classmates And Co-Workers

Every K-pop fan has had that moment. You know which moment I’m talking about. You’re hanging with your friends, and then the question comes out, “You like what? K-pop?” You freeze and are not quite sure how they’re going to react to your answer. Well freeze no more! K-pop fans unite and show the world that K-pop fills us with joy, love, friendship, and, of course, our beloved idols. Here are seven ways to deal with K-pop love out in the world.

Own it

The first thing we all have to do in order to explain our K-pop love is own our K-pop love. It’s harder than we think. At work, whenever I take time off to go to a concert, it’s always, “Are you going to see those boy bands? Aren’t you too old for that?” At first, it really bugged me, but eventually I learned to square my shoulders, smile, nod, and say, “Yup, I’m going to see SHINee, and no, I’m never too old to enjoy music I love and see performers who are amazing.” That confidence really helped me to deal with it, and although my co-workers still think I’m a little abnormal, now they enjoy my excitement when I babble about the new Taeyang album. Being normal is overrated anyway. I’ll be abnormal any day for K-pop!

Understand them

It’s hard to get something new, especially when it’s something as in-depth and complicated as K-pop. Think about it. K-pop isn’t just listening to tunes. K-pop is an entire scene and collection of activity and ideas. When you follow your favorite group, you don’t just learn their lyrics and sing along. You learn about the group, their ages, their likes, their fandom, where they stand in the industry, when they appear on music programs, what dramas the members have been on…I could keep going. K-pop isn’t just music; it’s a way of life for fans.

Take the complexity of being a fan and think about what it’s like trying to absorb it from an outsider’s perspective. It’s a lot. Being a K-pop fan is a different kind of fan, and that’s hard to get without putting in the same amount of time that we have. So we just have to understand the poor, regular folks who don’t (yet) know the wonders of the K-pop universe.

Explain it

The next step is to attempt to explain what K-pop is. More importantly, I think it’s important to explain what it means to you personally. For me, K-pop was something I found when I was struggling after graduating. I was in this transitionary period of looking for work and feeling more than a little lost. I found K-pop, and it grounded me while I was trying to move forward. K-pop is my safe haven where I can go and experience joy. I tell people it’s something that makes me happy. When I put on my favorite songs, it cheers me up. Since I’m known to be a rather outgoing and silly person, people believe me when I say that I use the music to sing and dance my frustrations out.

You can always go into what it actually is. It’s a category of music that has a little (or a lot) of something for everyone. You like Latin vibes? Check out K.A.R.D or BTS. You like singer/songwriters? Check out 10cm or J-Rabbit. You digging rock? CNBLUE or FTISLAND. It’s not just a bunch of Asian guys and gals dancing around and looking pretty. It’s a collective of extremely talented, hard-working individuals and groups creating music and performances that appeal to a wide variety of tastes. Compare it to the music of your home country and how varied that is. This is just one more kind of music to fit any mood you may be in. Except…better than everything else. Am I right?

Expose them

I have sent videos of songs I think my friends and co-workers would like to them more than once. I find songs or artists similar to who they listen to regularly and play it in the car while we drive or send them a YouTube link and just say, “Listen.” Usually they come back with “Hey, that’s not so bad.” Once people experience the music, often they start to see K-pop as something more than just the word “K-pop” and understand you just a little better. It may not mean that you’ve converted another fan4lyfe, but that’s okay.

Sometimes I talk about how they are trained and about their backgrounds. “Did you know that a lot of these people are formally trained dancers? Or passed the highest exams in their nation? Some speak over three languages. They’re pretty fabulous people.” Talk BTS at the BBMAs or even bring in drama and talk about how “Descendants of the Sun” made it into non-Hallyu major newspapers all over the world. Facts tend to be eye-opening.

Ignore them

Every once and a while you’ll run across a person or two who refuses to get it. And that’s where the BA fanboy or fangirl in you must stand up and just say, “No!” No, we refuse to listen to derogatory remarks and let it hurt us. Sometimes a fan just gotta walk away and keep it cool. There are always gonna be haters, but that’s okay. They don’t get to pick up their earbuds and listen to K-pop. Or go home and watch videos. Or go out on the weekend and watch a concert.

This is always the hardest step, especially in school. And this is where we go back to “Own It.” Own your K-pop love and don’t let people get you down.

Find them

You know who I’m talking about: other K-pop fans. We’re all over. Soompi forums. YouTube channels. In record stores. Korean markets. We’re out there and ready to fangirl and fanboy with you. We’re here to hear your stories and tell you ours. And we’re also here to gush about the best parts of K-pop, the parts that make us happy, and the people who make us happy. We’re in this for the long haul, and we know you are, too. Let’s journey together through the beautiful land that is K-pop.

Keep it

At the end of the day, whether you’re hanging with K-pop-loving friends, converted a fan, or people still think you’re crazy, K-pop is yours. Yes, there are millions of us all over the world, but when you’re having a hard day and you’re listening to a song with lyrics that speak to you, that moment is yours. Or when you’re in a good mood and just need to dance, that moment is yours. When you discover a B-side on an album that speaks to you more than the title track, that moment is yours.

Keep K-pop for you!

Thanks for joining me on this. It’s a subject close to my heart, Soompiers, and I am honored to share it with you. Has anyone had to answer “the” question whether it be from family, friends, or co-workers, or had to deal with heat because of your passion? Tell us your stories below!

Raine0211 is a PROUD lover of all things Korean, especially K-pop, K-drama, and Korean food. When she’s not writing for Soompi, she’s playing the cello and singing. She happily indulges in all kinds of K-pop, but her biases are SHINee, Infinite, and VIXX. She lives with her sister and her two cats, Timmy and Momo, all of whom also love K-pop and K-drama. POWER TO THE FANS!

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