The struggles of being a K-pop fan

K-pop superstars BTS greet their fans at a recent concert. (Photo: BTS Official Facebook)

Whether it’s Senorita by Shawn Mendes or bad guy by Billie Eilish we have all found ourselves jamming to our favourite song – but what is a song, what is a genre and why does it matter?

Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said.”

From stirring up our fondest memories to finding solace in the lyrics, it is a fulfilling experience.

I was at the dentist when I discovered K-pop. It was blaring from my friend Hamdi’s phone, drowning out the drills and the groans.

And just like the drill it got stuck in my head.

A term coined for Korean pop music, K-pop has become a global phenomenon.

Characterized by English phrases, a fast-paced tempo and synchronized choreography, it has intrigued and baffled fans and critics alike.

But despite being a multi-billion dollar industry, the music has often been labeled unoriginal, repetitive and lacking depth.

In an age where cultural obsessions see our interests fleet from one source of entertainment to another, very little is known about a fan’s experience.

Away from the dazzling lights, heart pounding excitement and echoing screams can lies a world of struggle, big and small.

And if you think you have got it bad – try being a K-pop fan.

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The Judgement

People think you are weird for liking K-pop, particularly when you are African like me and don’t fit the part.

I constantly struggle feeling like an outcast every time I mention that I like this genre of music.

People will label you a “Koreaboo” – a mocking term used to describe overzealous fans who abandon their own culture in exchange for another.

The Travel

Wanting to go to Korea but being too broke? K-pop fans know the feeling,.

You know you have hit rock bottom when you look at travel apps and plan trips you will never go on.

The Tickets

A fierce competition that’s not for the faint hearted, chances that many artists will not visit your country but on the rare occasion they do, it is a race where a matter of minutes could decide whether or not you get a ticket.

The Merchandise

Glow sticks, headbands, posters and app-based games – shipping costs are a K-pop fan’s worst enemy.

If you live in South Korea that’s great but if you don’t- tough luck, get ready to fork out money. It is not cheap, but don’t fret. This is where group orders and fan sites come in handy.

The Look

Winged eyeliners, gradient lips, dewy skin: some people can pull it off and props to them, but when you look like the farthest thing from Asian you risk opening a can of worms about cultural appropriation.

The truth is you might never care about K-pop and these struggles might seem meaningless, but the next time you judge my music preferences please base it on insight and not ignorance.