17 signs that you’ve become a K-pop stan (again, against your better judgment)
The last time I was a K-pop fan was in the stone ages of K-pop, when Seo Taiji and H.O.T. were creating pandemonium among teenage girls and cassette tapes were still sold in stores (even though true fans shelled out for the CD, of course). Every time my father ripped the idol posters off my walls, it just fanned the flames of my rebellion even harder, and I was convinced that my fanlove would never die. Never!
But it did, of course, because I grew up and moved out, and was not compelled to take posters of my oppas with me to my college dorm room. Years later, when I returned to dramas after spending a good long chunk of my life away from them, I still never returned to K-pop fandom in the same way. I just didn’t know any of the groups by then, and learning them seemed like a daunting task. My playlists were mostly filled with drama OSTs, and I had probably encountered idols more as variety personas than as singers.
Then a strange thing happened recently. I became a K-pop fan again by accident, for reasons I’m not sure I understand. I was bored out of my mind and out of dramas to watch (the drama slump is real, my friends), and so I did what I always do when I can’t be bothered to start a new drama: watch a random episode of a variety show, because the mental engagement and commitment level are much lower. I started and stopped countless episodes, sat through entire pilots, and was feeling dissatisfied with everything I tried.
It was around that time that I had finished watching School 2017, and remembered that Kim Se-jung had gotten her start on the idol survival program Produce 101, so I idly picked it up and ended up breezing through the entire season. It was like brain candy, so naturally I watched the second season immediately afterward. Boy, was that a mistake.
The second season was all boys, so of course it was eye candy on top of brain candy, and you can see where this is going. I don’t know what happened, or how the show hoodwinked me into unleashing my inner teenage fangirl, but I am now exhibiting the classic, unmistakable signs of standom:
- You spend every free moment on Youtube watching music videos, behind-the-scenes videos, and fan-made videos about the videos. You marvel at the sheer volume of them. Fandom was not like this when you were last a K-pop fan.
- You’ve watched your idol’s portions of a reality survival program so many times you know exactly what minute of what episode to fast-forward to. And of course you know his lines by heart.
- Your idol’s group name is some ridiculous form of Konglish that embarrasses you, but you tell yourself that it’s fine, because no one ever knew what the hell Fin Killing Liberty meant but it never stopped Hyori from becoming a superstar anyway.
- You actually set out to buy a physical CD for a K-pop group, which you haven’t done since the 20th century.
- You then learn that there are two different versions of the same goddamn album, which paralyzes you with indecision.
- Then you discover that they each come with a random member featured on the sleeve, and this means you have a 1-in-11 shot of getting the version you actually want. It somehow feels like worse odds than the lottery, and the thought depresses you.
- You watch every variety show appearance your idol has made, even if all he does is show up and eat. He makes the same jokes and does the same dance from show to show, but you laugh every time and clap in delight because he is the best thing since sliced bread. You’re convinced there will never be another star like him.
- You make a mental note to apologize to your friends for mocking them about their obsession with Rain back in the day. You get it now.
- You used to wonder why on earth K-pop fans took the time to individually film every single member’s version of the same performance separately. Who would watch this, you wondered. YOU, THAT’S WHO.
- You watch commercials for things you will never buy, all because your idol is being paid boatloads of money to model it.
- You’ve gone so deep into the Youtube catalogue that you’re now getting recommendations for clips of other celebrities who just mention your idol’s name.
- For the first time in your entire life, you find watching idol bromance fanfic to be a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon. You admit this to no one.
- You’re actually relieved that you don’t live in Korea, because then you’d be this lady:
- You’re pretty sure you’ve gone insane, but then you remember that this feels vaguely familiar. You try not to dwell on this, or what it means about your addictive personality. You’re fairly certain K-pop is safer than drugs. Probably.
- Your new favorite activity is watching videos dedicated to comparing your idol’s face to the puppies he resembles most.
- You consider getting a puppy and naming it after your idol. You then remember that you have a cat and he would scratch your eye out if you brought home a dog. You try changing your cat’s name, but he’s not having any of that.
- Then you learn that your idol raises cats and you die of cuteness overload.