Journey Through The Hallyu Wave

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Since the beginning of the Hallyu Wave in the 90s when K-Pop music and Korean dramas began to spread across Asia, their popularity continued to grow as social media allowed fans to share their interest on a global scale. This phenomenon has now reached a level I could never foresee with the boys of BTS breaking records in the American market and different groups visiting Australia on their tours. Somehow I managed to get dragged into this black-hole of content when a friend back in high school introduced me to 4Minute when she was preparing for the international K-Pop Cover Festival. As a decent dancer, I soon became obsessed with the choreographies and bright visuals in their music videos. I even looked past the out-of-place zombie apocalypse that sprung to life in What’s Your Name? and accepted the zany which occasionally came with K-Pop.

Exploring what music 4Minute had to offer soon took a turn into one of the members solo careers which has continued to thrive over the years. The songs I found? Ice-Cream and Bubble Pop by Hyuna. Both remain absolute bangers in my playlists although they might have overdone it with the ‘bling bling’. Whether collaborating with other artists to create a sexy comeback like Now, or jamming out with confidence in Lip & Hip, Hyuna has always managed to stay on my radar. Even now with her recent departure from Cube Entertainment, I’m looking forward to seeing her next move.

Although fans of K-Pop vary widely between groups, styles of music, and different points of time, I’ve always leaned towards female artists whether they were riding solo or had a number of team members by their side. When Mamamoo debuted with Mr Ambiguous, my interest in K-Pop skyrocketed as these four girls brought a retro vibe and powerhouse vocals to my ears. Watching their performances on Immortal Songs 2, seeing their interactions on-stage, and following their rise to fame from day one, they’ve definitely remained as one of my favourites during their various eras. To this day I eagerly await their new tracks and am continually amazed that RBW have managed to produce such a successful group when the company itself was relatively unknown beforehand.

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Most people who follow a particular group will understand the amount of time it takes to keep track of all the activities these artists must attend. From new releases to variety shows, from learning your favourite choreography to checking out a group’s latest V-Live; being a fan is a full-time job. K-Pop even comes with its own set of terms which any veteran would have heard, but they may be confusing to newcomers. Rather than saying “who’s your favourite?”, fans will ask “who’s your bias?” and when artists have a ‘comeback’, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been on a long hiatus, it simply refers to the group or soloist releasing new music. Specific fandoms will also come up with nicknames for group members or have inside jokes about a group, but you can worry about that once you’ve found your favourites.

With anything that possesses hordes of followers, you’ll find plenty of those who’ll go out of their way to hate on a specific group or member and try to pick apart their achievements. It’s the sad reality of any fandom, but it’s not your responsibility to try to change everyone’s mind and often when you try to defend your favourites, you end up spending your time in vain. Instead, using your time supporting artists by streaming their music, buying their merch and, if possible, attending their concerts provides a more productive (and overall more positive) experience for all. And with those parting words of wisdom, here’s a summer jam for all the Australians melting in the heat right now.

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