Music Monday, July 20, 2020 – How I Got Swept Up By the Korean Wave

Before we get any further in our Music Monday journey, I’d like to take a quick trip down memory lane to how I first got sucked into this cultural behemoth known as the Korean Wave.

It really all started when The Filipino Channel first aired a Filipino-dubbed Lovers in Paris in 2007 here in the United States. It was our first ever exposure to Korean television and we immediately loved it. It must have been fate as around this time, Comcast’s International Channel (later, AZN Television) was airing the OCN drama series Someday and later the Lee Da Hae-starrer Hello, My Lady!. Both of which I decided to watch.

My Korean drama journey is a whole other story to tell. But it relates to my K-pop journey in a big way. For anyone familiar with Korean dramas, they would know OSTs and soundtracks are a huge part of the experience. Many times over the years, a drama series’ theme song could outlast the drama itself in terms of popularity.

So me watching more and more Korean dramas, I began listening to more and more OSTs. That of course, in turn, introduced me to the greater world of Korean pop music.

Meanwhile, around this same time, Sandara Park was preparing to debut in a new girl group. Of course, I knew Sandara Park long before this as I was a fan of hers on Star Circle Quest and of the HeroSan (Hero Angeles-Sandara Park) loveteam in the Philippines.

Now, I do remember hearing about Epik High and possibly listening to some of their songs sometime in the 2000s. But it was the news of Sandara debuting in a new group that led me to listen to her labelmates Big Bang.

Interestingly enough, the first songs of Big Bang I remember playing in the car driving from home from school every day turned out to be from their Japanese album:
“With U,” Big Bang

“Number 1,” Big Bang

And their Korean hit, “Haru Haru”/”Day by Day”:

Then “Lollipop” from Big Bang and 2NE1 was released:

Wanting to seek out more around this time, I stumbled upon 2PM’s “Heartbeat”:

(I even grew my hair longer just so I could try Taecyeon’s hairstyle.)

And the Wonder Girls’ “Nobody”:

Both songs immediately made me a fan of theirs. (Plus, I’ve been JYP Entertainment-biased ever since.)

With those two songs especially, I officially got caught up in the current and would soon get swept up in the full-on wave.

From there, I started listening to 2AM, Shinee, FTISLAND, KARA and Supernova. I mentioned last week that F.CUZ was the first group I followed before their debut. Then came Beast, MBLAQ, Secret, 4minute and there was no stopping me any longer.

It definitely feels so long ago. And I think most people will agree that the K-pop industry is so different now compared to ten years ago. It was certainly a much simpler time back then.

Over the years, I’ve gradually become more interested in Korean music and entertainment than American music and entertainment, to be honest. I probably couldn’t tell you which English-language artists and songs are popular these days. But I’d probably be able to identify the latest K-pop rookie groups.

Moving forward, K-pop is such a fascinating “thing” to watch, study and simply just enjoy. And I definitely don’t regret getting pulled into the rabbit hole known as Hallyu or the Korean Wave.

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