It All Started with the BigBang

아침 이슬을 맞고 내 안에 분노 과거에 묻고
With the morning dew, burying my anger in the past – TOP, Still Life

I don’t know how or exactly when I got introduced to Kpop. But I did.
And it was when we were living in Santa Barbara, so that puts me somewhere between 12-16 years of age.
The first two albums I owned were a Seo Taiji and Boys best hits album and an early Kim GunMo album.
It was around that time I got introduced to Kdrama as well.
It, quite literally, changed my life.
I didn’t know these things existed; entertainment done by people who looked liked me.

I went all in on it.
I think it was overcompensating for all the internalized racism (definitely not the term I would’ve used then).
Growing up, I despised the fact that my parents were Korean.
I prayed that God would miraculously transform my black hair and brown eyes to blond hair and blue eyes — mostly likely to fit in with the majority.

The desire to consume Korean entertainment exploded when we moved to Hawaii.
Mainly because I was no longer a minority.
Most of my classmates looked like me.

I recently tried to explain what that felt like to a white person and she responded with, ”I grew up a redhead and no one else was a redhead in my class. It didn’t bother me that much.”

If I could, I would’ve rolled my eyes off of my head.
But that’s for a different post that I may never get to — especially at the rate I’m going.

I went all-in on the Korean entertainment culture to make up loss time for hating the fact that I was Korean.
Then, H.O.T (the first generation) rolled onto the scene.
And I was hooked.
My jr and sr year in high school was spent growing out my bangs, emulating the styles of these Korean boybands. Not to mention my hormonal obsession with FinKL.

Then the second generation of Kpop rolled on to the scene with G.O.D.
I’m trying to remember all the Kpop groups I listened to back then:
Sechskies; Shinhwa; The YG Family; Jinusean; Fly to the Sky; FinKL; Baby Vox; S#arp; Koyote; Cool; Brown Eyes; Brown Eyed Soul; Loveholic; (which is why the Kdrama Hospital Playlist is extra special because the songs they play are from the era of Kpop I embraced wholeheartedly).

It all came to a slow when I went to seminary.
Who knows why. Was I growing out of it? Perhaps.
Did I have the need to feel Korean now that I worked at a Korean church? Maybe not.
Was I too busy with seminary and work and trying to impress this girl that I met during my second semester of seminary? Could be.
Do I like answering my own questions? Why, yes. Yes I do. Thanks for asking.

Whatever the cause, I just casually listened to Kpop and watched dramas here and there until I didn’t.

Decades later, I started hearing about this group BTS from non-Koreans.
It was wild. White people were talking about a Kpop group.
This group was being invited to appear on American programming.
Sure, the Wonder Girls had a brief stint in the States and then there was the year of Psy, 2012 and how Gangnam Style was EV.ER.REE.WHERE along with the butchering of the pronunciation of gangman (ain’t no one in a gang, guys).

But this was different. It felt different.

Then the pandemic happened.
For whatever reason, my wife — who notoriously despised Kdramas — started watching Crash Landing On You. (CLOY) I joined in. No one died of a terminal disease (a common trope during the time I consumed kdramas).
The show was good. And on Netflix!
The thing about Kdramas is they go out of their way to make the soundtrack great and CLOY was no different.
After CLOY, we wanted to see what else was out there; what else we’ve been missing. And since we had more time than usual, binge watching we did. Goblin. Reply 1997. Reply 1988. My Mister. Itaewon Class. Inheritors. Boys Over Flowers. We couldn’t stop.

I started checking in on all the kpop I may have missed, starting with BTS and Black Pink (in your area!).

During a random Kpop playlist listen, this song came on and like an earworm, it just became embedded in my head.
I’ve heard of BigBang here and there but didn’t know much about them because by the time they came on to the scene (Kpop’s 3rd generation era), I was long checked out of Korean entertainment.
But this song (Loser) I just couldn’t shake. Turns out, the album that Loser was on (Made) was a solid album.

So I started going on this deep dive of everything that was BigBang.
From their debut to their hiatus.
Kings of Kpop.
Led by G-Dragon King of Kpop.

And you know, it’s a really good thing that I discovered BigBang at the age of 40.
Because I’m obsessed with G-Dragon. (Yes, ”I’m” not I ”was” but I am).
I’m certain I would’ve done everything I can to be like him if I were younger…

Anything re: BigBang that was recommended by Youtube, I watched.
Their struggles, their scandals (oof), their successes… I got familiar with it all — as if I was writing a research paper on the rise and fall and rise of BigBang.

After one of their members resigned from all things entertainment (due to a huge scandal) the remaining 4 were to make a comeback at Coachella. Buuuuuut, that Coachella got cancelled — like everything else— due to COVID.

But earlier this year, they started dropping hints of a comeback and I know as a 41 year old man, I shouldn’t have felt the excitement that I felt but I couldn’t help it. BigBang. After like 5 years, they were making a comeback.

And during the first week of April, they dropped their new song (and MV) Still Life.

It was… well… sad.
This felt like a definite end to what was BigBang.
They put out all this excitement and hype to simply say, Goodbye. At least that’s what it felt like.
TOP, their oldest member, posted a note on IG basically saying thanks and bye. And really, it’s his part in the song that pulls on my heartstrings.

He’s had a fraught relationship with the media during the last stages of BigBang.
He got outed for possessing and using marijuana.
The scrutiny of this; being dragged by the media constantly accusing him (he took a urine test but some of the media came back saying it wasn’t effective enough and so he gave hair samples) led to a suicide attempt.
Then some of the media turned that around as his way of trying to get out of the mandatory military service.
His mother had to appear in front of cameras and plead the media to leave her son alone; plead for son’s life.
The last part of his verse is translated into:
I’m going to change more than before
A good person more and more
A better person more and more
With the morning dew, burying my anger in the past

The finality of this all made me a bit… sad.
I think that’s just a part of getting older.

Because growing older, I think, makes you more sentimental; makes you want to hold onto things longer. I kind of understand the fights we would get into church when many of the people refused to change the way we did things but at the same time wanted to change the way we did things.

Many of them got married at this church; their kids were baptized and confirmed at that church… there so many memories and feelings tied to this place and anything that changes their view of the church; anything that challenges the nostalgia of this place — well, I sort of understand why their natural instinct is to hold onto what they remember as tightly as possible.
What I don’t understand is their desire to change when they don’t want to change.
The ”we want to change things without changing” is one of the biggest headaches I’ve encountered as a pastor.

Anyway, I wasted all these words on fanboying over a Kpop band albeit a legendary one.
I’ve been putting off updating this blog for a while… but recently, I got the notification to renew all things wordpress and for a split second, I wasn’t gonna.
I’ve had this blog since 2006.
I couldn’t let it go. (Haha).
And since I couldn’t let it go — I couldn’t go any longer without updating it.

So I sat down and started typing. Where did my mind and fingers take me? BigBang.
The things that occupy my mind…
And, I’m not going to bother to self-edit this post… because I’m lazy and because, let’s be real, part of writing this is due to procrastinating.

I’d like to say that I’ll be back here updating on a weekly basis. But I don’t wanna lie to you.
You can still check out the podcast, which I’ll be taking a hiatus from soon, as well.
But here’s all things Joseph, if you’re interested.

Anyway, in the 2010’s, H.O.T (the kpop group that launched all other kpop groups) had their reunion. It was funny to watch them do the songs that we all grew up on and the audience members made up of people my age. I’m sure in like 2030, BigBang will get together while in their 40’s and bring back all the nostalgia. And you can bet your butts I’ll still be fanboying well into my 50’s.

I don’t know if I should be proud or sad. It is what it is.

One thought on “It All Started with the BigBang

  1. I check my email everyday looking for your post…So glad you are back, even if you have descended into nostalgia!

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