I first was exposed to Korean music when I was 9 from my auntie always playing groups like 2NE1, Shinee and Girls Generation in the car. My initial reaction was very negative as I never understood why my auntie listens to something that she couldn’t understand. And I said at the time that I would never listen to ‘that music’ again. One year later, I was actively listening to K-pop as a mood booster.

Unlike other genres of music at the time, K-pop pushed musical envelopes with a single incorporating various different genres (e.g. rap, pop, ballad, electronic) whilst also being accompanied by insane dance moves.
The visuals of the MV’s are crazy and alluring. In my opinion, Korean idol groups production-wise put boy groups like NSYNC and One Direction to shame.

And the K-idols look perfect….maybe too perfect………

Ong Seong Wu

The next few years were great and at that time I was exposed to even more groups like MBLAQ, f(x) and Kara. Then 2012 came and around that time, I completely got disinterested by the K-pop world. The songs got predictable in terms of structure, the use of EDM gave me a headache and most importantly, I got sick of the annoying fandoms.
But in 2014, I got into K hip-hop and K- RNB artists like Dok2, Jay Park, The Quiett and Jessi and that was the leeway for me to get back into the world of K-pop. From then to now, I am a hybrid between K-pop and k hip-hop alternating through them.

So I guess you are wondering why I am telling you my life story?? Well, In BCM320 I had to apply autoethnography in analyzing Asian culture. While I have succeeded to some extent, I never fully understood the concept until it clicked during the tutorial of BCM. Ellis describes that autoethnographers, “must use personal experience to illustrate facets of cultural experience, and, in so doing, make characteristics of a culture familiar for insiders and outsiders.” In light of that, here I am now telling you my life story about one of my favourite passions, K-pop.

K-pop for me has helped make leeway for me to make tons of friends through the K-pop online community nice or not. Also, it has made me respect my Asian culture since when I was younger, I was often bullied about my race. But Jen, your not Korean. So why do you listen to K-pop?? I get asked this question a lot. Even though I am not Korean, I still can connect emotionally with the song I am listening to. It brings up the point that music can overcome the language barriers thus providing an emotional connection with the listener.
That is not to say you should listen to K-pop but I am addressing the point that you don’t have to be Korean to listen to Korean music.



  1. Your engagement with the genre of K-pop is quite interesting as it appears to have been a rollercoaster of deciding how you feel about the culture itself. I like how you feel you have come to a conclusion of incorporating multiple aspects of the genre to create something you enjoy most. the Ellis reading discusses the idea of epiphanies or remembered moments in which perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life (BOCHNER & ELLIS, 1992; COUSER, 1997; DENZIN, 1989). You recalled on your initial experience and juxtaposed it with your opinion a single year later which illustrates how your tastes can change if you open up your thoughts to it.
    Your account of negative experiences you had from others for listening to this genre was of note purely because it isn’t something many people necessarily expereince when it comes to music taste. The idea that you should or shouldn’t listen to a certain type of music based on culture or ethnicity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely relate to your experiences listening to Korean music growing up. Going through and reading your blog post I’m able to recall my own epiphanies and gradual liking to the K-Pop scene. Like you, I was enticed by the ample effort they put into their music videos, their dancing, the bright lights and made me always compare Asian artists to non-Asian artists in the mainstream. In the early stages, I was convinced that K-Pop was way better than regular pop music seen in English speaking countries. Although, over time I also lost interest in Korean music completely and pushed it aside for a few years until I discovered the Korean hip-hop and R&B genre that got me invested into Asian artists once again. From an autoethnographic perspective I’ve experienced similar encounters with Korean music and my family. My parents would ask what I’d be listening to and would almost be embarrassed to admit that I listened to Korean music, especially because I didn’t understand it. In terms of the music bringing an emotional capacity, I completely agree that music has no barriers and am glad that Korean music in general is being celebrated due to the success of BTS and BLACKPINK etc. I’ve even made a playlist on my Spotify account named ‘K’ that consists of a heap of songs by Korean artists which I’ve collated over the years which you might find some overlap of songs you may already be aware of: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6JVW0oD8LxoR2jfcMdbAyI?si=F12re-5LRZmzkyUH8KFdzg
    In light of autoethnography, your blog post allowed for an engaging read that I could easily relate to, providing a meaningful and culturally considered personal experience.

    All the best for the rest of the session!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like a lot of us here it seems, K-music seems to be of a particular interest for you; yay, me too! I think a more critical analysis of the Ellis reading would generate a more insightful autoethnographic experience. As Ellis et al put it, “in addition to telling about experiences, autoethnographers often are required by social science publishing conventions to analyze these experiences.” That analysis is critical to providing substantial context to your writing. We as autoethnographers are conducting very real research; don’t let the more personalised writing tone fool you. I think some of the things you touched upon lead to some super interesting questions. What IS the difference between boy-bands/girl-bands (1D, NSYNC, TLC) and K-idols? How do these industries function differently (music industry in S.Korea compared to the US)? As you yourself stated you’re not Korean, well then what role does the K-idol play in your life? These are questions that I think will serve you better in your journey through autoethnography, and they’re questions that i’m personally very interested to seeing you write about. Good luck!

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