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Once upon a Hallyu

Welcome, first time with Hallyu ?

Nolza, always.

2NE1: a 4-leaved clover standing for 21st century’s new evolution.

And so it happened.

Knowing BIGBANG, it was only a matter of time until I started discovering other YG groups, making me a potential YG stan.

Lee Chaelin (CL) was actually the first YG artist that I came across through her song “Hello bitches”. While listening to the song and reading the lyrics, I told myself: well, if this ain’t Korean Nicki Minaj !

To my disappointment (and delight?), I found out that she had no more than five songs; that’s where I knew that I needed more. My delight was due to the fact that I actually witnessed her US debut which was gratifying, because in the KPOP industry, if you’re not there from the beginning, you always feel that you’re not good “enough” of a fan.

When I first got into Kpop, I chose to stay away from girl groups because it was just not my thing. Because of this decision, I ended up depriving myself from 2NE1 for a while until I realized that if I wanted to hear more of CL, then I had to embrace 2NE1’s music as well.

Let me tell you that boycotting 2NE1’s music was the most stupid decision I have ever made as a fangirl since the day I got into Kpop. First, I denied myself the most outstanding girl group that not only broke other girl groups’ dollish attire with their fierce attitude but also granted me the most genuine feelings while listening to every song of theirs: feminism at its best. 

Despite being a latecomer, and as saddened as I was because of their hiatus and the reasons behind it, I was glad that I could take part of their next comeback. However, as if BIGBANG’s military service was not tormentous enough; the group’s youngest, Minzy, left 2NE1. 

I was in utter shock. I barely got to know the girls and familiarize with them; Bom was the kindest soul and Dara was the clumsiest dork, but together with their leader and maknae they were Blackjacks’ precious and lucky clover. As I was new to the industry I didn’t understand much other than what I read on SNS; and truthfully, I was sad for Minzy and supportive of her choice because I truly believed that she knew better … But she didn’t.

Just as I started embracing my inner Blackjack, I got stabbed right in the back. Not the heart, because that would actually require affection towards the person in mind. No, I felt simply betrayed. This feeling didn’t start immediately as I was still trying to find an explanation just like any fanboy and fangirl out there; it actually started developping with the heinous comments and petty interview replies. I am being as vague as I can be because I don’t want to offend anyone reading this, but it doesn’t mean that I should keep my thoughts to myself. 

After the shocking news, CL, Bom and Dara still tried to make 2NE1 work as OT3 as they were back in the studio, and we even received accurate news of songs being recorded at the time. Blackjacks had faith and mended their wounds, only for the bandaid to be ripped off once again: 2NE1 were to disband with CL and Dara renewing their contracts and Bom leaving YG. I remember that day perfectly because I was holding my phone and I saw the news the minute it happened. I denied it at first, then I eventually kneeled and cried it off.

Being hit with a second bad memo, a little war within the fandom broke out for a while. Dara and Bom being exempted, the gun was aimed yet again on Minzy and with a flavorish twist, at CL herself. Blackjacks kept complaining that CL’s US debut was what broke 2NE1 apart, that she was selfish for choosing herself over her members and all the Yiddish they spoke fluently. On the other hand, the outrage for Minzy grew because she started it all. 

Between the leader and the maknae, and since I am CL biased therefore I cannot possibly be 100% objective, but let me humor you for a second: not omitting the fact that CL’s US debut was meant to bring her members along once she has earned herself a spot in the US market, but if Minzy left because she wanted to do her own thing or because she was wronged and kept in the dungeon for far too long, why didn’t the others complain?

Bom was out of the picture since her scandal, which to be honest is a very low move from Knetz, because they took their judgement way too far and for absolutely no valid reason. Dara has her acting career and variety skills; and again with CL, her US debut was in the works. That leaves Minzy with nothing but her dance academy and skills … Solution? let’s cancel the contract and leave the group. After being blinded for so long by my hatred, I still tried to cope and see what Minzy was going to do with her life now that she was “reborn”. Answer? let’s join a girl group project because my solo work is taking eight times its supposed deadline. Okay.

All of this aside, the main reason I wanted to write this piece in the first place was to find peace within me, if there was ever such a thing. 2NE1 represented my first girl group experience and although I was a fresh Blackjack, I loved them and still love them just as much as my seniors do, if not more. Ultimately, CL wrote a song which was supposed to be part of her US album but instead the song was released as a final single from 2NE1 as OT3, in which Dara and Bom wholeheartedly took part.

This song was my first and last comeback. This song was my pain and comfort. Thus, I am forever a wounded blackjack. Yet, it isn’t goodbye, it’s only farewell: 2NE1 NOLZA!

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It was love at first BANG

Big Bang: not your common existential theory.

As many Hallyu enthusiasts told me throughout the past year, I started off my Kpop journey with the best of the best. It is not a praise, it’s a fact.

Korea’s #1 Idols, kings, best worldwide act, global music stars … They most commonly go by the name of BIGBANG. Overall, I have a thing for names. I just love it when something is properly named; it makes you appreciate the thing in question more. 

Although I love songwriting, I was not really into music. I could last up to a month without listening to a single tune and it wouldn’t affect me in any way. The previous statement instantly vanished once I was introduced to Kpop; and needless to say that I started with THE Kpop: this is my story with BIGBANG: how I got into Kpop, how I found my first bias and how I stanned my first boy band.

It all started with a tune. Taeyang’s Ringa Linga was the song that sold my soul to Hallyu. The rhythm, the swagger, the scenery and the choreography … I mean it’s YB we’re talking about, these four attributs crown his style. After I listened to his song, I just couldn’t have enough of it and knowing that he was a member of BIGBANG made me even more curious about their music as a group. Fantastic Baby was the first song I listened to, however the MV was a little bit too hardcore for me (and all of you at some point, don’t deny it).

I kept listening to some of their songs, old and new, until I came across BANG BANG BANG. I was musically shot and I would gladly live the experience again and again. That’s when I told myself: that’s it, I am watching all of their Music Videos and listening to all of their music. As a matter of fact, I played all of their albums on Spotify for a good month; I did my house chores, ran my errands and travaled long miles while gracing my existence with their soulful music. I couldn’t study while listening to them though because I found myself jamming to them way more than I did the studying part: perks and flaws, right ?

As any newbie fan did, I watched some of their live performances, and it’s safe to say that every performance – even if it lasted less than five minutes – was a BIGBANG mini concert. They owned the stage like it was their home, the audience cheered with their cute yellow-crowned lightsticks and the feelings were surreal. I found myself unable to go to sleep without watching at least one live performance of theirs every night. I was hooked.

Being the reason behind my addiction and my mentor, Sunnie was actually the one who suggested that I should watch the live performances. She also advised me to watch an episode of BIGBANG on a variety show called “Happy together”, and boy, that episode was the best thing I have ever watched of OT5 to this day. They were truly happy together.

After watching the variety show, I looked further into BIGBANG. I identified myself as a VIP; a rookie still even after one year of stanning them, but a proud one. There was something about these five beautiful souls that made me feel complete. They have been through so much since their trainee days and they were still thriving after ten years; five Kings crowning their fans and the world with a one of a kind music.

However, my timing was a bit inconvenient. By the time I got to know BIGBANG, Top was already going to enlist. As I write these lines, our Bingu is getting ready to start his military service any minute now.

When I first learned about this, my heart literally ached because I felt that I was robbed of my fangirling feelings, I ended up avoiding watching their shows as OT5 and just collected them instead because I wouldn’t be able to cope with their absence for five years. As much as I’m happy with the upcoming solos, I knew BIGBANG as five; therefore my VIP feelings will always lack that missing piece of the puzzle until they reunite again, as five.

I am however grateful that their album remained unfinished until last December because it allowed me to witness one last comeback. It made me embrace my feelings as I cried my eyes out while watching the MVs and woke up every sunday morning to watch their Inkigayo performances, still crying after every stage because I knew that it was a farewell.

Now that Tabi is getting ready to leave, I think it’s time for me to rewind and catch up with the old and new. I have bingewatched half of Top’s filmography and left the other half for solace. Also, being a Taeyang biased, I have watched almost all of his show appearances and know his albums by heart. I still need to catch up with Seungri’s filmography and listen more to Daesung’s musical releases while silently praying for a Korean album.

I am trying to go through a ten-year content in the shortest amount of time possible. G-Dragon’s activities alone will take me a while, but I will make it. While the leader said that VIP made BIGBANG, in my case BIGBANG made me a VIP, therefore I will try to live up to the name and I will remain one until whenever.

Muse: Confessions of a Nomad

Nomad: a member of a community of people who live in different locations, moving from one place to another.

After graduating and working in a dental clinic for about two years, Lexi finally decided to take a break in order to pursue her dream: writing. Her tastes were always divergent, which explained why she had to reroute every now and then, and this time she chose literature as her escapade. Leaving her old life behind, she started a new chapter in a new destination: Seoul, South Korea.

PROLOGUE: Once upon a dream

CHAPTER I: A fresh start

CHAPTER II: The heart of Seoul

CHAPTER III: Beautiful coincidences

CHAPTER IV: Love and heartache

CHAPTER V: Where it all started

CHAPTER VI: Life decisions

CHAPTER VII: Que sera, sera

CHAPTER VIII: The interview

CHAPTER IX: A bright new day

CHAPTER X: Embracing life

CHAPTER XI: Sweet Tooth

CHAPTER XII: Visionary

CHAPTER XIII: Inner Monster

CHAPTER XIV: Relapse

CHAPTER XV: Reflection

CHAPTER XVI: Baby steps

CHAPTER XVII: A twisted tale

CHAPTER XVIII: Conflict of interest

CHAPTER XIX: Fated to love you

CHAPTER XX: Lost in translation

CHAPTER XXI: Separate ways

CHAPTER XXII: Summer vibes

CHAPTER XXIII: Confessions

CHAPTER XXIV: Love reunion

CHAPTER XXV: The ultimate gift

EPILOGUE: Crossing paths

How I got into Hallyu

Hallyu : also known as the Korean wave, is a neologism literally meaning flow of KoreaIt represents the increase in global popularity of South Korean culture since the 1990s.

안녕하세요, 에스매입니다.

Today, I am going to share with you how I got into Hallyu. I am sure that every Hallyu fan out their has their own tale of how they joined the Korean wave: This is my story.

Sunnie, my sister, has been a Kdrama fan for five consecutive years now, and she discovered Kpop about a year ago. Granted, she has tried everything to lure me to her world for as long as I could remember, but I only managed to gratify her pleas by watching one single movie and two episodes of an ongoing drama at the time.

It all started on January 17th, 2016 on her birthday. I have initially planned the whole day to celebrate her birthday properly but the gloomy weather forced us to cancel our plans. In order to cheer her up, I granted her a birthday pass : I offered to agree to everything she asks for that day, even if it wasn’t to my liking. Needless to say that Sunnie knew exactly what she wanted; her verdict was to spend the whole day indoors tucked in and watch Kpop music videos on Youtube. Although I was deviously tricked, I still had to keep my word.

After exactly four hours of listening to Kpop, I found myself taking a liking to it, and even jamming to whatever rare english words my ears picked up: by the end of the afternoon, my mind was literally a standard Kpop radio station. But the promise did not end there; since she still had a few hours until midnight, she made me start an ongoing Kdrama at the time. After a couple of episodes, I found myself clicking link after link with every episode ending with a breathtaking cliffhanger. That’s when I knew that I was doomed.

Today marks a year since I got into Hallyu. What I thought of as a curse back then turned into an eternal bliss. Today also marks Sunnie’s 18th birthday; this is why I decided to start this blog on this specific date to dedicate it to my baby sister and to remind myself that a year ago I was lost and that it took me 366 days to completely find myself again.

With these writings I want to tell everyone who took the time to read this, whether they are Hallyu enthusiasts or inquisitive readers altogether, that you should always locate your happy place and allow yourself to reach for it, no matter how many obstacles you come across in life, after all you’re responsible for your own happiness. With that in mind, my last piece of advice is as follows: dream, persist, fulfill, repeat.

That’s all for today. Feel free to share your own story with Hallyu down below, and stay tuned for more Hallyu gems. Until I see you next time, thank you for reading me.

P.S: 생일 축하해 선니, 정말 고마워. 사랑해 ♡

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