March 23, 2015
We were really hoping for a lot of conversation from Korean people for this topic, but it seems a lot of foreigners had things to say! If you watch a lot of Korean dramas, you might come to Korea having an idea of what it will be like. I will say that some things like matching couple culture is indeed true, but the ridiculous dramatic overreactions is something that is not true. Also the swaggy apartments you see are rare and for the rich. Even “poor” characters have super nice apartments and the newest phone and fashion. Those kind of misconceptions about coming to Korea reminded me of how my students used to watch High School Musical and ask me if all houses in Canada were as huge as the ones in the movie or if all students were that good looking and stylish. Ha ha ha. Nope. I live in a bungalow in Canada!
The other popular misconception mentioned was about kpop. While kpop is blasted a lot from the speakers outside of stores in Korea, it’s pop music the same as it is in your home country. You might hear Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande (who BTW we thought was a drink at Starbucks) being blasted in the mall in Toronto but that does mean all Canadians listen to this music constantly? No, it’s just pop music which literally just means: popular music. Music that is currently popular but can quickly change. Similarly, there might be a one hit wonder in North America that makes it to the top of the music charts but they’ll eventually fade out once that one song isn’t popular anymore. You might not even know the name of the artist but you might recognize the sound of the song.
The same thing can happen with kpop. A group can debut and release a song that you might hear playing on the street of Korea but it doesn’t mean they’ve made it. They’re just in the new release music circulation and the average Korean person won’t even know their name. Lately, kpop become so over saturated with many groups constantly debuting it became even harder for anyone to recognize the difference in these groups. Since they don’t stream from the radio at stores (they stream from a never ending music playlist) there are no interruptions, the music just washes over you as background noise and you never learn the name of the group. Kpop groups can come and go in Korea so fast with no one knowing they existed. The kpop group’s company will post pictures of events or behind the scene makeup and travel stuff or even post videos from music shows. In turn, the kpop fan group keeps supporting them but truthfully, having a fan club doesn’t mean they’re big in Korea. They might be big amongst the international fans but there are so many kpop groups in Korea that could walk down the street and be totally unrecognized.
People don’t even follow any of the gossip of what’s occurring in the kpop world. So many people didn’t even know that BAP existed let alone had contract problems. They don’t know that Red Velvet is a new SM group. They’ve never even heard of UKISS, Boyfriend, or BTS. If you want an indication of how popular a group might be, see how often they are appearing on mainstream TV in Korea and I don’t mean on music related shows. Are they on many different types of variety shows? Are they making guest appearances alone without their group members? Are they hosting a Korean variety show? Are Korean people making parody videos of their music videos? These are all indications of a group or even a single group member picking up steam in Korea. If a single member picks up steam in Korea it might bring no popularity to the group itself as a musical act but rather boost that one member’s career in acting. I’ve even watched a Korean drama and found out later on that one of the people acting in it is from a kpop group that I’ve never heard of before!
So that’s a lot of talk about kpop misconceptions! So if you’re visited Korea, what are some misconceptions you had? What about your home country…what are things people think are happening that are totally wrong. I can tell you that Canadians don’t walk around drinking maple syrup and wearing hockey skates.