I used to be one of those people who cringed at “fangirls.”
I would despise those noisy girls and their high-pitched screams whenever they get thrilled seeing or talking about their K-pop idols. It just seemed so crazy and exaggerated. And then there were—and still are—the fan wars. It was crazy, unbelievable, to see people actually go to great lengths and wage war against other people on social media, where they post overdramatic rants about other groups they hate or those “bullying” their idols.
Not to mention the songs are Korean—so, I thought, what the hell are people going crazy about with songs they do not literally understand? All these OPM (local music in the Philippines) and English songs and people go crazy about songs in an unfathomable language.
I did go crazy over a male group. The early 2000s were the glory days of Meteor Garden (Taiwanese drama series) and F4. I was head-over-heels in love with them, especially Jerry Yan, and I screamed and I wailed and I squealed at the beginning of every episode and every music video that played on our local music channel. I collected unofficial merch I found on the streets near our school. I manually wrote the lyrics of Qing Fei De Yi and Wo Yao De Ai (Meteor Garden theme songs) on a huge cartolina paper and taped it beside a huge poster of F4 on the wall of my room.
I was in high school. I was young and I grew out of it. I thought only young people could go through that phase and be excused. To me, it was a teenage thing—something you only experienced in your teenage years, and then you have to grow up and find more mature interests… like maybe business books and newspapers? Said the girl who loves the Minions and Gudetama and Sailor Moon and One Punch Man in her twenties…
Anyway, it was mainly just the cringey impression those mad people around me had instilled in me. Some people are just so overdramatic, you know? K-pop itself was not necessarily crazy.
More than a decade after the height of my F4 fandom, I have found myself once again going through an extreme admiration for a male group, this time for BTS. It’s crazy and I was even still in denial at first.
To be honest, the “ARMY” fandom is great, but it also has quite a negative image. Some ARMYs are notorious for being obsessive, tactless, and brusque. I was reluctant because I did not want to suffer the stigma. But even more so, BTS themselves should also not suffer from the generalized negative image of their fandom.
It is a fact that BTS is a global pop icon now. They are in the mainstream of the music industry. But I did not just simply jump on the bandwagon. I guess we could say I fell in love with them “organically,” regardless of their current popularity status. Their music and overall talent bundle easily struck a chord in me.
It is funny because I did not really start with their music. Originally, I was more of a Korean variety show kind of girl. I only watched a few Korean variety shows like Running Man and Men on a Mission.
One day, I decided to watch the BTS episode of Men on a Mission, and I still remember my first impression of them to be, “This is BTS? wow are they ugly,” aware that they are a globally famous idol group. (Hey, to the sensitive ARMYs out there, I would like to reiterate that this was a first impression, and people have different visual perceptions, and my visual system apparently needs some time to process and absorb the beauty it sees—it is common that I find something/someone ugly at first sight and then eventually realize that they are actually beautiful. So, basically, that’s what happened with me and BTS. I do not mean to offend any sensitive ARMY out there!)
The only guy that stood out to me as “passable” was Jin, who would later become the apple of my eyes, my most cherished one. At that time, Jin was also the funniest one for me. Jin was the one who opened the passage to a rabbit hole that I was about to fall into.
One of the funniest moments in Men on a Mission was when Teacher Jang burst into the room and Jin jumped and rattled.
I enjoy watching those kinds of funny moments, and since Jin seemed to be a really jumpy guy, I tried to search for more videos of him being scared and jumpy. And then I also found that he likes speaking English even though he sucks at it, which made it funny. So, I had a lot of funny videos of Jin to watch, and eventually I got to know this crazy innocent side of him and fell in love.
I learned about their mini variety series on V Live, called Run BTS, so I watched that, too. So, initially, I fell in love with BTS not for their music but because they are really fun and adorable guys.
Listening to their songs came later, and their songs fortunately suited my taste perfectly. I first got hooked on Fire. One of the things I like about BTS is that their choreographies are snappy and appealing. They have the “oomph factor” when they dance, and I love cool dancers, so that boosted the BTS Love Meter.
And then, I moved on to the mellower songs, which I also enjoyed listening to, such as Spring Day, Save Me, Magic Shop, and of course Jin’s Epiphany and Awake. Now, I am swallowing my own words when I said it’s ridiculous to like songs in a foreign language. Music goes beyond words, and it can affect you in various ways.
Nonetheless, I still make it a point to listen to their songs while reading the English translation. I still have a long way to go. Actually, I’m still in the baby stages, and I’m taking baby steps. Imagine that?—I’m still in the baby stages with still so much to learn and catch up on with their songs, but I already love them a lot. BTS is not difficult to love because not only are their talent and passion emanating but are they also sweet and funny boys.
Now, I feel so much pride in BTS whenever they get recognition, especially internationally, because I know that they are good and passionate people. I especially feel tenderness toward Jin because he has worked the hardest, in the sense that he was the one who started from zero, with no background in music and dancing, so he was the one who had to exert a lot of extra effort. I also admire him for not giving up despite being left out most of the time. My heart cries whenever I read forums like “Why does BTS Jin have the least lines?” or “Should Jin leave BTS?” But at the same time, I am comforted by the fact that there is a huge number of people who support Kim Seok Jin, and they provide satisfying answers to such questions. He radiates so much positivity and spreads it across the people around him. I want to support him more.
And since I am writing about this and posting it on my blog, then I’m taking it as official. I am officially a K-pop fan through BTS. I stan Kim Seok Jin.