Filipinos Relive How They ‘Converted’ to K-Pop Fandom
by Jace Amodo, April 25, 2019 2:00pm
Art by Dani Elevazo
It's true we Filipinos have a strong Western influence, but celebrating Korean Pop is one of the many ways we cherish our Asian roots. The Philippines has seen many K-Pop acts perform on its stages because of how warm many of us are towards the Korean culture, particularly with their dramas and music. Influence, discovery, research purposes—there's a lot of reasons one becomes "converted" into being a K-Pop fan.
Being "converted" doesn't mean forgetting their Filipino roots, though the word may state otherwise; one can listen to OPM and K-Pop at the same time. Curious how others dived deep into this culture? Here are seven stories of how Manillennials became K-Pop fans.
I discovered K-Pop back in 2010 when my high school held a Korean Friendship Day and the Korean students performed “Nobody” by Wonder Girls. Then I saw SNSD's “Genie” music video on TV, and thought the girls were pretty. I watched more music videos on YouTube because they were all well-produced, and the songs are catchy. The concepts were all interesting, and the choreographies were amazing to watch—they were literally unlike any other western song/mv I've heard and watched before and that's how I became a K-Pop fan."
- Rian, 22, Writer
I started being a K-Pop fan when I was in second-year high school, watching Taiwanese and Korean dramas sa QTV 11. Siyempre, when there's a drama, there's OST (Official Sound Track). I got hooked sa kanta. I also had friends who liked K-Pop noonkaya siguro naging fan din ako. I cannot say naman na "converted" ako kasi may emo days pa rin ako noon at the same time ng pagiging fan ng K-Pop [laughs].
- Winter, 22, Business Unit Manager
I started listening July last 2018. May shared playlist kasi kami nung barkada ko tapos halos magkaka-iba kami ng pina-pakinggan. May common ground kami pero may sari-sarili kaming main genre. Tapos ayun, sa isang song, “Wine” by Suran, nag-start tapos it lead to another, Daydream/Airplaneni J-Hope.
- Pat, 23, Coordinator
Nagsimula akong maging K-Pop fan noong 2009 nung ipalabas 'yungBoys Over Flowerssa ABS-CBN. Sinabayan pa 'yun nung pag-papatugtog lagi sa radyo at MYX nung "Nobody," "I Don't Care," at "Sorry Sorry." May K-Pop fever na talaga nung 2009 pa lang tapos napukaw 'yung interest ko, nagsimula na akong mag-research at mag-print ng lyrics ng K-Pop songs at K-drama OSTs. Dumating sa point na may clearbook ako ng lyrics para makasabay ako sa mga kanta [laughs]. Parang sa klase pa namin nun, ako lang mahilig sa K-Pop tapos nag-aral pa ako ng Hangul. Nagustuhan ko ang K-Pop kasi catchy siya at maganda sayawin. May looks din sila at fashion kaya ang sarap gayahin.
- Nikka, 22, Editor
I became a fan of K-Pop way back 2009, high school years. The first K-Pop song I got into was "Fire" by 2NE1, and from that time on, I became a real fanatic, stanning this legendary female group. I’m a YG fan, so most of the groups I follow are under this entertainment, like BIGBANG, iKON, Winner, and so forth. I also listen to other genres like pop & alternative rock but what made me also love K-Pop is that it has something that can grasp your interest even if you don’t understand the lyrics. Plus, their visual aesthetics and fashion are just lit AF.
- Marco, 23, Social Media Coordinator
“When I was in fifth grade (2007), I used to visit a computer shop near my school to watch videos of Big Bang and Super Junior. Imagine, I was the only one laughing at some Korean guys, while everyone beside me were watching other stuff. I felt alienated but at the same time unique. My friends and classmates didn't have any clue on who the heck were those people I wrote as my favorite actors and singers in their slam books [laughs]. Anyway, here I am, more than a decade later, still in this crazy fandom. I'm glad I was one of those who witnessed the evolution of the K-pop music industry in the Philippines.”
- Ria, 22, Information Officer
It was the iconic "Lollipop" that hooked me into K-Pop. I was so attracted to its crazy and colorful concept until I learn more about other K-Pop artists and eventually listen to their songs. I remember in high school, every after class we would go to one of my classmates' house to practice dance cover of hits by 2NE1, Big Bang, Super Junior, and 4minute. The rest was history. While I am a fan of K-Pop, what elevated the experience for me is the community, being part of a group of people that celebrates music in whatever language it is delivered. My then growing interest in Hallyu deepens my understanding and appreciation of their culture.”
- June, 22, Metadata Writer
Because of the stigmas enveloping listening to K-Pop, many Filipinos have a hard time admitting their love for Korean pop culture. A perfect way to embrace your passion is to surround yourself with like-minded people (a.k.a. fandoms), and listening to these Manillennials share how they got into the fad helps in more ways than one. How did you become converted?
Interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.