Hi all! I’m really excited to introduce this column to you, because it’s something I’ve been planning for a very long time. I originally had this idea a while ago, but I kept putting it off because I was reformatting the blog and I didn’t have enough time to make all of the posts involved. Actually, it’s kind of debatable if I have the time now… since I’m busier than ever… but whatever! I’ve delayed this long enough! So without further ado, I’d like to present my latest series: the K-pop Starter Kit!
Before I start, I just want to shine the spotlight on my super talented friend Shaina for designing the featured image for these posts. She literally took a bunch of ideas that were bouncing around in my head and made exactly what I was imagining – actually, she made it even better than I imagined. She’s also designed all the custom content on my website: header, icon, profile picture, home page image, etc. I absolutely LOVE her work, and she always does such a fabulous job. So a big thank you to Shaina for the amazing designs! If you want to see some of her other art, you can go to to her Instagram account here and/or her website here.
What is the K-pop Starter Kit?
I’ve noticed that K-pop has become increasingly more global over the past couple of years, and I’m delighted to see so many new fans. Speaking from experience, I know that this whole industry can be overwhelming at first – especially if you’ve had zero exposure to it before. There are so many artists and songs to discover, plus a lot of cultural differences that might seem surprising (depending on where you’re from). So, my intention with the K-pop Starter Kit is to create a beginner’s guide for people who are just getting into K-pop and want to learn more. Throughout the series, I’ll be researching and writing about different aspects of the industry such as the history of K-pop, agencies, criteria for music charts, idols’ roles within their groups, etc.
Of course, I know that many of the people who read this blog are already K-pop fans and probably know a lot about the industry already. So if this applies to you, there might not be a lot of new information. But I hope you’ll still find these posts enjoyable! And though I rarely get comments on my posts (except for the ones from my best friend – thanks Jess I love you), I’d really love for other K-pop fans to add their thoughts and share some of their knowledge and experiences! There will always be things I haven’t thought of or might have missed.
How many posts will there be?
The basic idea is that each month will have a specific theme. This month (May) is the introduction that will touch on a bunch of general information, and then every month after that will have its own individual topic. Ideally, I’d like to make a post for this column once a week; that means each month should have around four or five posts. I’d honestly love to write more, but I’m busy and I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. So the official number is once a week for now, because that’s something I can realistically commit to. But I’ll do my best to add more posts when I can! As for the entire project, I’m still figuring out just how long it will last. It was originally supposed to be for a year – one subject per month – but I don’t know if I have twelve different subjects to cover. That being said, I’m planning to keep this project going through the end of 2021. So, it will definitely be at least eight months long!
Before I start posting in earnest, there are several things that I want to address. I have a sense that certain questions or comments might pop up over time, so I want to be clear about how I’ll go about things now. That way, I can just link back to this post instead of having to write the same explanations over and over. Here are some things I want to set the record on:
These posts will be written from my point of view as an American, specifically one living in South Korea.
My blog stats show me that I have viewers and visitors from all over the world – I think that’s awesome, and I’m very grateful that so many people share my interest and enjoy my writing. That being said, I don’t really know what K-pop fandoms are like in other countries besides the US (where I’m from) and South Korea (where I live). As interested as I am in what everyone’s life as a K-pop fan is like, I can only speak and write from my own perspective. So again, I truly hope that people will comment on my posts and share their experiences so we can all learn about K-pop in the global sphere!
Also, I’ve been living in South Korea for just over two years now. At this point, I have a pretty good grasp of how K-pop is perceived here, which groups are popular, which ones people are less likely to have heard of, how the Korean general public reacts to certain events, etc. So if I say that something is a certain way in South Korea, that’s not just me making a general sweeping statement. Though I do think it’s worth mentioning that I don’t currently live in Seoul – aka the epicenter of K-pop – so some of my experiences might be *slightly* different.
What I write about will be accurate at the time of posting, but it might change in the future.
K-pop is an extremely fast-paced industry that pretty much lives in the present, and some things are significantly different from when I started as a fan five years ago. I actually had the idea for this column in 2018 before I went on hiatus, and most of the prep notes I made back then are unusable because so much has changed. And I’m not just talking about who’s the most popular, because that’s always shifting anyway; I also mean how the industry functions in general. So I’ll try my best to keep information up to date, and I’ll make edits if anything important changes.
Since this column is a “K-Pop Starter Kit,” I can’t cover every single group out there.
Obviously, I would love for ANYONE to read this column whether they’re a new K-pop fan or not. And as a multifan, I’d also love to share all the groups I listen to and talk about everyone and everything. But this series is meant to be a “starter kit” or a beginner’s guide, so there’s only so much I can write about in each post. There will inevitably be times when I have to focus on the more well-known groups or the ones with bigger fandoms, especially in the beginning. So if I don’t write about Group A or Artist B in a post, it’s 100% not personal. It’s not because I dislike them or because I don’t think they belong in whatever post I’m writing. It’s just that there are times when I can’t include everyone, and I have to draw the line somewhere.
That being said, I’ll still try to cover as many groups and artists as possible over the course of this project. And there might be times when I make “list articles” in an attempt to give lots of different idols more exposure: things like “rookie groups to watch out for,” “groups I think are underrated,” “my favorite dancers in K-pop,” etc. In those cases, I’ll make it clear that the artists selected partially come from my own opinions. And once again, I want to encourage readers to comment about other groups and idols they like and want to recommend!
You might see coverage about some groups and/or idols you find problematic.
This is the one I’ve debated the most about, because I feel like this is highly likely to come up. Since my aim is for new and prospective K-pop fans to read my series – and hopefully become more interested in K-pop – I feel a sense of responsibility over who and what I talk about. As the writer of these posts, I’m acting as a resource for information; because of that, I feel like it’s on me to make people aware there might be some situations in a group’s past they might not be okay with. And I obviously don’t want to offend anyone by bringing a group or idol who has done something that upset them. But the reality is that many of the biggest K-pop groups out there have had problematic situations; if I took out everyone who’s had one, there wouldn’t be much left for me to write about.
Also, I’m well aware that K-pop fans respond to incidents differently. Honestly, I don’t judge because I believe K-pop is a highly personal experience; people should be free to like or dislike whatever – or whoever – they want for any reason. However, the fact that fans have various reactions to the same situation could get tricky for this column. For example, let’s say I made a list of the most well-known K-pop groups in 2021. Several of today’s most popular groups have a member who has recently been accused of bullying in the past. If I decided to include them in the list, Person A could ask me, “Why would you write about Group X when Member Y is problematic and clearly a bully?” But if I left them out, Person B could say something like, “I can’t believe you didn’t include Group X just because of the rumors about Member Y.”
Ultimately, I’ve decided to be as neutral as possible because that’s how I approach most things in life. Though I obviously have my own opinions about all the hot topic issues in K-pop, I rarely share them because I’m not here to tell people how to think or feel. So, my solution is basically acknowledgement of past events without giving my own personal judgment. I will write about anyone who I feel is relevant to the subject of my post, regardless of whether they’ve had any problematic situations or not. But if I think it’s necessary, I’ll preface the post with a paragraph saying that some groups or idols I’ve written about might have done things that could be a dealbreaker for you. I won’t give names or details because I want my posts to be focused on whatever topic I’m covering, but you can always contact me by email if you would like more information. I know it’s not a perfect solution, but I do think it’s the most neutral.
What’s coming up first?
Like I said, I’m going to start with a basic beginner’s guide to K-pop. I’m still sorting everything out, but here’s a general idea of what to expect for my first posts:
- An introduction to K-pop post – this will basically be a list that briefly explains things that are very characteristic of and perhaps even unique to K-pop.
- A simple introduction to the Korean language – I’m not going to make *actual* Korean language learning posts because that’s a LOT of time and effort, and I feel there are many other people who are better qualified to do that. However, I do want to make a post that’s a VERY BASIC explanation of some important aspects of the Korean language that will pop up if you watch a lot of videos and variety shows: for example, an overview on formal vs. informal Korean, which one is appropriate and when, honorifics, basic words/expressions that you might hear a lot, etc.
- A glossary of K-pop terms you hear a lot (both in Korean and English)
- A list of the most successful groups in K-pop right now – aka the ones with big fandoms, good sales and chart results, who are well-known to the Korean general public, etc. I *might* try to divide this into a list of groups who are more popular in South Korea and those who are more popular globally, but I haven’t decided yet.
(EDIT: The “Introduction to K-pop” actually ended up becoming three separate posts because there was so much to cover, so I won’t be able to do the other planned posts in the introduction month. So, I have to decided to expand them into upcoming monthly topics.)
That’s everything for now – I’ll be back in a few days with the first official post!
NOTE: The featured image is a custom design I requested from my friend specifically for this blog and this column. Please do not alter it, repost it, or re-upload it without my permission. If you want to see the artist’s work, you can go to to her Instagram account here and/or her website here.