For the past two weeks, never could I have predicted that I would go to a funeral. Never would I have predicted that I would try to explain the differences between gender and sexuality to someone at a funeral. Yet, here I am posting about another experience that I would have never predicted: somehow I stumbled upon the American K-Pop group attempting to make it big in South Korea.
Trying to get out of the negative headspace that I have been in for the past few days, I decided that I needed to leave my apartment and go for a walk. I went to Cheonggyecheon stream to walk around and just think. I didn’t exactly realize how long it is (it’s like almost 5K one way), so I walked and kept walking. When I eventually got tired of walking, I left through one of the side steps that are available, and I had no idea where I was. I continued walking, and then I heard a concert that was going on, and curious as I was, decided to go look. Turns out, it was EXP Edition. It’s essentially a K-pop group created by a Korean MFA student at Columbia to explore and push boundaries on the ideas of masculinity and transnational pop culture. Of course, people are pissed that this group exists. This is mainly because a K-Pop group can spend years training before they can even be considered ready to perform and represent their country on the world pop stage. Some argue that this is a form of cultural appropriation, while others would say it’s more of a cultural exchange. Which, to add more complexity Kpop has been criticized for appropriating black American culture pretty often.
There were Koreans and non-Koreans in the crowd, some of which seemed very enthused that this group was performing. To my surprise, they spoke to the audience in Korean, but not to my surprise, they weren’t particularly good at it. Of course, I’m not exactly one to talk about whose Korean is good or not, but it feels… weird. While doing many of my interviews and reading past research, Korean adoptees are often harassed and berated by Koreans for not knowing Korean. Of course, I can’t really compare the two experiences because they’re completely different from one another, aside from the fact that both adoptees and this group cross international borders, nevertheless, it still feels weird? I don’t really know. I still can’t believe that I just randomly walked by them. I still can’t believe that they exist? The universe is so strange sometimes, but seeing this Kpop group actually shifted my thoughts from the negative spiral it was going down to just amusement.