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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.

“Star in My Heart” Ahn Jae-Wook and Choi Jin-Shil

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.

“Damo” starring Ha Ji-Won, Lee Suh-Jin, Kim Min-Joon

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.

Yoo Jae Suk “Nation’s MC”

Lee Seung Gi the All-Around-Entertainer

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.

H.O.T promoting their first album song, “Candy” in 1996.

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.

DBSK in 2008

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?

77 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sippykitty #

    Oh my I left you a comment in the star1 post you did earlier and come to find out here you love Mars too. How uncanny is this??? Maybe us fans can lobby on his fan site and twitter to take on that role lol. I was a big fan of Taiwanese dramas first before discovering the wonders of k drama. All time faves from Taiwan are Mars, Meteor Garden 1, devil beside you and down with love. Fave k dramas personal taste, BOF, Goong and coffee prince. Now I have to add faith and city hunter to the list. I’m a big big follower of criminal minds, law and order svu and CSI. My hubby thinks with all the crime shows that I watch I am capable of getting away with murder. Lol! It’s fun to read your posts. Thank you again.

    November 30, 2012
    • joonni #

      Meteor Garden was the drama that introduced to Zai Zai and Barbie so it will always hold a dear place it my heart. I think it might also be my first TWdrama.
      I like Why Why Love better than Devil Beside You.
      Another favorite TWdrama is To Get Her.

      November 30, 2012
  2. phoenix #

    Hi Joonni,

    I am a K-drama enthusiast ever since Winter Sonata penetrate the Malaysians’ household a little more than 10 years ago. I found your blog accidentally through my endless browsing of ‘Faith’. Thank you for the translation of the Q&A. It makes me appreciate the drama more. The drama was so good that I am still having withdrawal syndrome. I watched because of LMH. I am not a fangirl nor will i go weak on my knees at the sight of him but I admire him as an actor. He is really an excellent actor with a myriad of expressions. Of course he is gorgeous too!! I watched CIty Hunter in 2011 and I made a promise that I will watch his next drama.

    From the intro i read about your background, a nostalgic feeling came over me. From what you have written, it seems we grew up in the same era with different surroundings. I was exposed to TVB dramas (HK). For as long as I could remember, every week i would wait patiently at the rental shop for the next episode of my favourite TVB dramas. HOw times have changed. I am now crazy over k-drama to the extent that i lost sleep and become zoombie-like the following day at work.

    Thank you for all your post. I enjoy reading them.Wishing you a blessed and Happy New Year (though it’s a little late, it’s still January).

    January 10, 2013
    • joonni #

      It’s a late reply, but “Hi” Phoenix! And it’s really, really, really late but “Happy New Year” to you too. 😀

      February 26, 2013
  3. i hope to get an answer. in autumn in my heart, after leaving for the states and leaving en suh behind they say they couldnt “do anything for her” . which i assume their saying they could help her out educationally, financially… why is that so?

    January 31, 2013
    • joonni #

      I don’t remember exactly what they said and what the specific context was but the parents or the brother could have said that because 1) the real mother refused help out of pride; or 2) the parents didn’t try hard enough and thought it was better to cut ties cleanly for the sake of the ailing mother and the real daughter.

      February 26, 2013
  4. LastJuniorStanding #

    We used to marathon Kdramas every single hour of the day, day of the week, week of the month, and month of the year… But now we have slowed down, and I have mostly been getting into Kpop–the main form of which is Super Junior. I know DBSK a bit, although I’m not exactly a fan of theirs. Since they’ve now broken up and became JYJ, it must be very devastating for their fans. I heard that many fans want them to get back together. I would too, if such a thing happened to my SJ oppas… Anyway, I enjoyed this post and was glad to see a fellow K-lover like myself. Thank you for the good posting! :):)

    May 7, 2016

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