The philosophical implications of K-Pop

Yes, I can even make this philosophical

Back to Article
Back to Article

The philosophical implications of K-Pop

Reyna Yang/Talon

Reyna Yang/Talon

Reyna Yang/Talon

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The black screen fades into a worm’s-eye view of a brown brick wall. A young man in a black uniform with gold trim bends down to look into the camera. He smiles playfully and asks, “Eoseo wa, Bangtan-eun cheoeum-iji?” (“Welcome, first time with BTS?”) Little does he know that it’s not my first time with BTS. Or my 21st. Or even my 101st.

For K-Pop newbies, BTS is short for Bangtan Sonyeondan, which is Korean for “Bulletproof Boy Scouts.” BTS is a Korean boy band with seven members.

I’m always on the lookout for new music to jam to. However, until recently, there has been a type of music I have been avoiding: K-Pop. Especially BTS.

I knew vaguely who BTS were, and that several of my friends were part of the BTS ARMY (the band’s fanbase). Online, ARMYs were, and still are, everywhere.

Annoyed by their fans’ seemingly obsessive and all-pervasive nature, I resented BTS and avoided them as a matter of principle.

Early this past summer, I finally gave in to my sister’s incessant begging, and agreed to listen to some BTS songs with her. Once I got over my stubbornness, I understood why BTS is the most popular boy band on the planet.

These boys are performers in every sense of the word: they can sing, they can dance and they can rap.

Their music videos are the most detailed, deep and symbolic I have ever seen. I listened to song after song, watched music video after music video and clicked whatever popped up in my recommended. And so, I finally fell down the rabbit hole of being a hopeless BTS fan.

So has half the world, it seems, including wrestler and rapper John Cena.

According to New York University music professor and Quora user Ethan Hein, the purpose of music is to “express and modulate emotions.” Emotion is a fundamental aspect of the human condition, one that transcends the man-made barrier of language. I’ll be the first to admit it: other than “hello,” “thank you” and “I love you,” I don’t speak a word of Korean.

Nevertheless, BTS’s music has never failed to make me feel deeply. Their music can make me feel invincible and on top of the world like with “IDOL” ft. Nicki Minaj or content and at peace with “Serendipity.”

Several songs have moved me to tears. If you’d like to cry with me, check out “The Truth Untold” ft. Steve Aoki. Watch the music video if ugly snot-cry is what you’re going for.

If the fact that you don’t understand Korean is the only thing keeping you from listening to K-Pop, recall that many of the people who were obsessed with Despacito during the summer of 2016 were also people who, despite taking multiple years of Spanish classes, still can’t remember that the “h” in hola is silent.

Ultimately, I’m so glad I decided to humor my little sister that one day and listen to a few songs with her. The fact that something so simple granted me insight into a whole new domain of music and culture just goes to show that trying something new, no matter how small, can completely change your outlook.

I challenge you: today, maybe even right now, step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never tried before (as long as it’s safe and legal). Who knows? Maybe it will lead to a new insight, a new hobby or a lifelong passion.

Oh, and by the way, the music video I mentioned at the beginning of this article is for a song called “DOPE.” If I’ve managed to convince you to give BTS a whirl, that’s the place to start.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email