Joonni’s Korean Pop Culture History
I grew up in the U.S. but my parents raised me with Korean popular culture. Instead of American television and music, I grew up renting Korean television videotapes every week and listening to K-pop cassette tapes.
The first drama I remember being excited to watch, instead of just passively watching with my parents, was “Feelings” of “Neukkim” from 1994. But the first drama I went completely crazy for, and waited desperately every week to go the video rental store, was “Star in My Heart” in 1997. Starring Ahn Jae Wook and Choi Jin Shil, it was the drama that gave me my first fangirl experience. I loved everything Korean then, and I remember wanting to be a designer just like Choi Jin Shil’s character. I thought Ahn Jae Wook and his hair were the handsomest thing alive.
I have a long list of favorite k-dramas, which I will probably post later, but I will just briefly write here that my number one drama is “Damo” (2003). It’s been eight years since it aired but while many have come close, no other drama has taken that spot from that wonderful piece of visual storytelling.
I regularly watch Korean variety shows and my favorite Korean entertainer is Yoo Jae Suk. He is indeed the “nation’s MC” for me. He and Lee Seung Gi occupy a special place in my heart as I both love/respect them. They are wonderful, smart, hard-working, and humble people who know how to respect others.
My mother claims that I sang my first full song when I was two years old. It was a 1980s Korean ballad, the lyrics to which I can still sing completely. My repertoire at Korean karaoke consists of 1990s rock ballads and early millennium dance songs. Songs from that era are really fun to sing at karaoke. I am a huge fan of Korean ballads. Park Hyo Shin my favorite ballad singer in South Korea. He will probably get a proper post in the future, displaying all his talents, but for now, all I will say is that he has amazing skill, control, and emotional delivery in his songs. Here is the song he is most well known for internationally, “Snow Flower” from the drama “I’m Sorry, I Love You.”
The first K-pop group I fangirled was H.O.T. My mom bought me their first album CD, telling me that they were popular in Korea. I passively liked their songs until I met a young girl who had just emigrated to the U.S. from South Korea. She was a huge fan of H.O.T. and she taught me what hardcore fangirling was. It was an astonishing world.
Over the years, I have liked S.E.S, Fink.L, Shinhwa, g.o.d., Rain, and Se7en. Among all the K-pop singers I have liked, I have fangirled no other group more than Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK). I may not have memorized their birthdays, but I have loved them since their debut. I was immediately drawn to them and they continue to occupy a special place in my heart.
I am also a huge fan of drama OSTs and have often wished that there was a soundtrack to my life. OSTs help me carry around the drama and I associate them strongly to the season during which I watched the drama. I love listening to them when I need a bit of summer, winter, spring, or fall.
“You’ve Fallen For Me” from the drama, “Heartstrings” which reminds me of the energy and sun of summer.
As for non-Korean music, I love jazz and hip-hop/R&B. In comparison to my K-pop choices, I find that I enjoy a lot more female artists in the non-Korean music market.
Outside of Korean popular culture, I enjoy my share of jdoramas and TW-dramas. My favorite jdorama is “Nobuta wo Produce” and my favorite TW-drama is “Mars.” My favorite manga is “Fruits Basket.” I really enjoy choreographed fighting, high-speed chases, action, and sci-fi so I love watching Hollywood blockbusters on the big screen. For American television, I love “South Park,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Office” and love/hate “Family Guy.” I think my American television viewing helps balance out the sweet sentimentality of Korean television.
I would also like to get to know my readers. Please tell me a little about yourselves. What are your favorite dramas and actors/actresses? What brought you to the K-drama world? Do you like K-Pop?