AustralianSana & Kpopalypse – Episode 3: k-pop ships, aegyo, Nazis and more

It’s time for the return of AustralianSana to Kpopalypse blog!  Read on for more discussion of k-pop issues!

I understand that you’ve recently done a TV spot, but that we can’t talk about it yet, is that correct?

Yes.  I’m allowed to mention that I went on the TV show “Hard Quiz“, but I’m not allowed to talk about the topic, or anything else such as how I did on the show, until the episode itself airs in July.

Why have they put those restrictions on you?

I’m not sure.  I think it’s just for the sake of the show.  It applied to all the other contestants there as well, just confidentiality I guess.

I guess they don’t want spoilers.

Yeah, not that it’d be that much of a spoil, but… eh!

We’ll talk about it more after the airing.  It’s a shame that we can’t promote it though.  Do you know at least when it’s going to air exactly?

I think it’s July 27th, and I was allowed to promote the picture that I took of Tata on the show, on his TATAdventures account, so that was like a little bit of promo that I’ve been allowed to do.

Let’s get into some questions, and we have quite a few.  The first one: “Do you think nct will put an end to SM boy groups, like, they won’t create any group after them, or just put out new sub units instead? And if they have success with nct, how will it affect the industry?”

Oh, that’s weird, because I was asking myself the same question a while ago – does that mean that there’s going to be no more actual boy groups from SM and it’s just going to be all NCT?  I think they based the model of that on AKB48, in terms of the graduation concept.

Let’s just run that concept through for people like me [who don’t follow j-pop…]

It’s like people come and go in the group based on their contracts, so members get a bit older, they graduate from the group and they’re replaced by newer idols.  Although the thing that AKB obviously does a lot differently is they have actual rankings of the entire lineup of who’s the most popular and who’s the least, and then do the units based on the popularity of the members.  Another difference is that AKB performs nearly every day in a specific theater as well, so that kind of helps create a sense of attachment to the idols in AKB because you do get to know them on a personal level and you get to see them up-front nearly every day, but the difference with NCT is that obviously with the k-pop system they’re not holding concerts every day.  I guess that makes that aspect a bit harder – how do you develop attachments to people knowing that they’re technically just going to be booted out of the group at any second.  It’s very strange, I guess.  I’m not against the concept, it’s just an interesting thing to observe them trying to adapt.  K-pop obviously isn’t opposed to adapting things from the j-pop market, it’s being done all the time with a lot of different things, Produce 101 is another AKB example too – but I guess it’s the first time I’m really seeing it.  I know After School kinda did [the graduation concept] but then Pledis is shit so that’s not exactly the best example.

I was thinking that After School had the whole graduation concept as well, and it actually surprises me that the group is so inactive, because as they have a graduation concept theoretically After School could just keep going and going and going and refreshing new members all the time, so I wonder why they didn’t choose to do that and just decided to let it die.

It’s kind of strange, I guess.

All I can assume is that something internally wasn’t quite working out that isn’t for public consumption, because on the surface everything seemed to be going as planned.

Wasn’t it that Kahi left, and there were things that weren’t widely publicised but rumours surfaced of her not being happy with a lot of things and internal fighting within the group and how her leadership style was quite harsh, from what I heard.

I remember when the whole T-ara bullying scandal happened and that blew up, After School were one of the first people to come out publicly and say “that definitely doesn’t happen in OUR group!”  [laughs]  That was just a huge red flag, I knew straight away something was going on!

Yep!

It isn’t the first time SM have done that either, wasn’t the original concept of Super Junior meant to be something a little bit similar?

Yes!  The whole reason that then changed was because the fans liked the group so much, that they didn’t want the members leaving.  So I was kind of wondering if that was going to be a similar thing with NCT, does that mean that the people who are in the group are going to be so well-liked that SM is going to be forced to make permanent sub-units?  I think that’s what they’re kind of facing now with Mark, because Mark was the one who was in NCT Dream but then they’re meant to be the under-18 unit, and now he’s 18, and the fans want him to stay in that unit, so it’ll be interesting to see how that progresses for them as they’re bringing in new kids.

There seems to be a fundamental conflict between the idea of having a group with constantly refreshing members, and the normal idol marketing where you basically try to get people to fall in love with your idol forever.  I don’t know how they’re going to resolve that.

It’s very interesting to observe in that way – how are they planning on doing this for the long term.

Next question: “hi the topic i’d like to see you guys delve into is fanfiction and shipping culture in k-pop! i know kpopalypse writes some fanfictions in this blog (lol) and I know our lovely frog has a “ship” she really is fond of! why do you think it is so popular? when do you guys think this practice crosses the line? until which point is it acceptable? or is it not healthy at all? how does this affect the group and fandom dynamics?”

I think that the ship they’re alluding to for me, would be “V-Hope”, which is Taehyung and Hoseok from BTS.  I guess to start off with I would say that I wouldn’t be a “legitimate” shipper of it in terms of literally thinking that they’re actually dating.  For me, it’s more just they’re my two favourite members and then seeing them get along really well just makes me happy so I enjoy the content.  I think that’s a good principle to have if you are going to go through the shipping side of k-pop, seeing the members that you like interacting is just an extra source of joy and if it’s making you happy then there’s nothing particularly wrong with that.  It’s when you start projecting it as a fantasy and then making it have to be a reality to the point that it makes the idols themselves super-uncomfortable, then that’s crossing boundaries.  It’s not just a k-pop exclusive thing, I think everyone knows One Direction had this shit go on in their fandom for a really long time and it got really severe, to the point that I think it was Harry and Liam, their friendship got actually ruined because of it.  They were worried that if they stood next to each other, or said something to each other, that the shippers were going to take it and go so far with it, that it made them so uncomfortable that it affected their actual real life friendship.  So I think that’s when shipping really crosses boundaries.

What about people who don’t necessarily want to see it become reality, or don’t have any stock invested in it in that sense, but who are into it more from a sexual point of view?

Yeah, that’s a weird thing for me, because I’m not, so I don’t really know exactly how to tackle that as a topic.  For me V-Hope isn’t a sexual ship, I mean whatever floats people’s boats I guess, I know there’s a whole realm of fanfiction that I haven’t delved into, that side of things in the smut category.  I feel like that’s a really hard line to draw.  For example, I remember one of the members of EXO, I think it was Tao, accidentally linked a smut-fic on his Weibo account.  I know that Jaejoong from TVXQ read YunJae fanfics, there was one really popular YunJae fanfic, where even the members were aware of it.  I almost want to ask the idols, if I ever get to meet a celebrity and interview them, “how do you feel about people literally writing fantasies of your sex life?”  That would be such a strange thing!

It’s happened to me!

Oh really?

Yeah, there’s a few Kpopalyspe fanfictions out there, that are about me [as opposed to ones I’ve written]!

Oh my god.

Obviously I do write fanfiction, but my fanfiction is very much anti-fanfiction in that sense.  Probably the most sexual one I’ve ever written is “T-ara vs AOA – The Final Fap“, and there’s two parts to it.  The point of it is that Reservoir Dogs is a film about a bank robbery, and the film shows you everything that happens in the story except the bank robbery, you never get to see the bank robbery.  My fanfiction was kind of the same, promising that there’s going to be some kind of sexual thing happening, and nothing sexual happens in it, everything else happens instead – there’s a whole jelly-wrestling fight between T-ara and AOA and the character doesn’t get to see any of it happen, so anyone who’s reading it for that sexual reason is going to be very frustrated and I just found that very amusing.  A lot of my supposedly sexual posts are deliberately doing exactly that in all sorts of different ways.  The boobs posts are really about subverting that whole idea, the “most fappable video of the year” always goes to Apink, regardless of what they’re doing in the video, and the comic that comes after it is once again subverting all those expectations.  The last one had Yua Mikami in it who is a pornstar, and I deliberately took all the most non-sexual bits of her pornographic adult films and built a non-pornographic story out of it, which is probably NOT what people who are searching for Yua Mikami on the Internet and finding my blog actually want to see!  All the fanfiction I do is not really about sex, and it’s really written for the exact opposite reasons to why most people write fanfiction.  Most people will try to build up the character of whoever their bias is as some wonderful angelic person, a real Mary Sue type character, whereas when I write celebrities into it, I always drop them in as people who are either really unlikable, or psychotic, or just weird, or most commonly just really ordinary and boring, just to subvert those expectations that people have when they read fanficiton.  It’s more interesting to have a story where the characters are more ordinary, because they’re more relatable.

Yep.

That’s what I’ve always disliked about things like MMORPGs because everyone has to be the hero.  How can you have a universe with thousands of people in it and they’re all the hero?  It makes no sense.  Wouldn’t all the problems be solved in five minutes?  All that roleplay stuff works a lot better when you’ve got people who are willing to play the boring characters.  So when I write, I try to make the story interesting but I try to make the characters boring, and really mundane, and even the protagonists are usually really mundane, they’re just really ordinary people, ordinary fangirls or sometimes not even fans.  I write that way because standard variety fanfiction just makes me cringe, because it is so cheesy and so Mary Sue.  I just feel like an antidote is really needed, so when I write I try to be that antidote as much as I can.

It’s funny though – speaking of terrible, terrible fanfiction, and the previous One Direction thing that I mentioned before: there’s this movie coming out called “After” and it’s literally a WattPad fanction that was about Harry Styles and it’s literally the new “Fifty Shades Of Grey”!

Wasn’t that a fanfiction as well?

Yeah, that was a Twilight fanfiction!

And Twilight, wasn’t that a fanfiction too, of something else?

I’m not sure what that was, I remember reading comments she made where she had a dream of the scene of Edward and Bella in the field and then she wrote the rest of the book based on that, so I’m not sure if there’s a fanfiction aspect to that.  It’s very surreal!

We’ll go to the next question: “Hihi, I was originally a weeb but got into stan twitter this year…”

…oh god…

“…I also live in Asia so the transition of fandoms (I thought) wouldn’t be too great but it has been wild getting to grips with the different expectations, fanservice and fan behaviour. Barring those extremes, there’s one topic that I’ve recently found fascinating and that’s aegyo. Now I work with non-fans and non-asians who I’ve asked about their opinion, so yeah, a grown man throwing V signs and making a >w< face or talking in a ‘baby voice’ isn’t strictly ‘cute’ (unless you’ve been dry heaving over their photobook for 10 years). I also know opinions and taste change over time and exposure so I was wondering when and how did you start to accept aegyo, if you did at all, and how does aegyo change how you view the performers? Thanks!”

It’s a bit of a weird thing, I was never really super-into it as a concept, but for whatever reason I find Taehyung extremely adorable, so he’d be the the only person who I really actually enjoy aegyo content from.  It’s funny to me, because I’m super hyper aware of the fact that it is acting, I just still find him ridiculously adorable.

Well, you can find something attractive or appealing and still realise that it’s fake.

Yeah.  I think it’s funny when I watch him do it, because he can turn it off very very quickly and very suddenly.  I’d struggle to find a clip of it, but one of the members of BTS asked Taehyung to do aegyo for a cup of ramen and he does this little >w< >w< move and he dances on the spot and as soon as the other member says “that’s good” and goes to give him the ramen he just snatches it out of his hand and walks off with the most blank expression on his face!  It’s hilarious to watch his duality, but it’s fun as entertainment value.

Do you think they get aegyo training?

I would assume so, kind of like how they get vocal training or anything else, the way that k-pop is.

I can’t say that I really care much when the girls do it, my personal taste in women isn’t really like that.  If someone did that in my real life, even if I was attracted to them I’d be pretty nauseated, because it’s so obviously insincere.  The girls I like and the ones who tend to like me tend to be more on the sexy side of the “sexy/cute” scale.  I can see why they do it – I don’t mind it because I know why it’s there, and it obviously helps people connect to the idols or whatever, especially with a young audience they probably find it appealing, but it leaves me cold to be honest!

I think there’s a whole other topic that you can kind of go into about it, for the people who are a bit older, maybe Irene’s age, and this idea that it’s infantilising women but also still trying to make them seem sexual as well.  I think IU was a really good example of that and how she went as far as to kind of spit in the face of it and base a lot of her newer concepts around this idea of struggling with her identity as an adult because the media still wants to portray her as a child, and her label and all the attention wants to see her as childish, but she’s a grown woman now and she wants to be able to express herself that way – and then the end result of that, turns out to be her being accused of being a pedophile!

It’s pretty ironic, isn’t it!

I’s so ironic!  I felt so sorry for her when that was going on.  I was like “how do you not understand this?!?  This is a direct result of the situation that other people have placed her into, yet her speaking up on it is making HER the pedophile?  But not all the people who used that imagery on her?”

People call anyone a pedophile these days, you’ve just got to be on the Internet.  I think I get called a pedophile maybe once a week!  But yeah, whatever!  [laughs]  Obviously as people get older aegyo doesn’t fit as well because it is meant to be a bit “childlike” or whatever, which is probably another reason why I don’t like it.  I just don’t like children in general.

Mood!

I’m the opposite of a pedophile – not only do I NOT want to have sex with children, I don’t even want them as friends!  [laughs]

Yes!  I’d struggle to find it again but I remember seeing a Tweet the other day that was very similar to that, it was along the lines of “I don’t even understand how pedophiles work, not only how are you attracted to children, how the fuck do you even stand being near them?”  Ugh!

I don’t have children, my partner doesn’t have children, and never will.  I’ve been with my girlfriend for 9 years, but before I met her I was with a lot of other girls, and a lot of them were really nice, really good people, but we broke up mainly over that issue – they wanted to have children.  It’s a hard thing to find, someone who doesn’t want to have kids.

Personally I don’t think I want kids, but whatever happens down the line… [AustralianSana’s dogs suddenly come home and she greets them] …sorry but I love my dogs more than anything else in the world – they’re my children!

Let’s go to the next question, this one’s for you: “So AustralianSana used to be InfinitelySY (as in Infinitely Sungyeol) but she said in the first interview her favourite member is Hoya? Did she switch biases over time? And how stupid does she think it is that some inspirits blur out Hoya’s face in photos now that he’s left the group?”

Sungyeol is still my favourite member of the group along with Hoya, they’re equal first.  I didn’t drop him and that’s not the reason why I changed the username.  It’s just that AustralianSana became the username after I wrote a pre-debut blog post on Sixteen where I was predicting which members would end up in Twice, and at this stage there was barely any information known about them, and I read somewhere that Sana was Australian, or lived in Australia at one stage, so I wrote that in the blog and later obviously found out that was fake, but I kept it as my username because I thought it was funny that I thought she was Australian at one stage and I also happen to be Australian myself.  So that’s the meaning behind the username and it’s been a bit of a running joke for a few years now with my Once mutuals, because my Once friends as well had that phase where they thought she was Australian too.  So there was no “dropping” of Sungyeol for that, I still like the guy, I Tweeted today about his movie premiere happening in May and I’m excited for that, I’m glad he gets to do acting.  And yeah I do think it’s stupid when they blur out pictures of Hoya now, because he was still in that group for seven years, and the fact that he left after his contract ended doesn’t make him any less of a member than the time he dedicated to the group.  I always find it weird that people act like a group is obligated to re-sign their contracts – that’s the whole point of contracts having expiration dates.

I’ll go straight to the next one: “How do you think the korean culture might change the way idols view the trainee process? For example, it’s common to study insane amounts of hours in middle and high school, probably the same amount of hours that a trainee would spend practicing. Would the fact that it’s the norm maybe change their view on it?”

It’s a bit of a weird question, I’m not entirely sure how to interpret it, but I’m kind of assuming that it’s to do with how there’s literally not enough time in a day to study the way the Korean education system demands and also fulfill the training requirements of an idol company at the same time.

I think what they’re getting at is: maybe people who grow up in Korea with the schooling system don’t consider idol training to be as harsh, because school hours are longer, and so it’s seen as more similar with the training regimen and the school regimen both being quite harsh.  I think that’s what we’re being asked.

I can see that as well.  Like, how whenever an idol gets admitted into university there’s always a scandal about “special admission” because they haven’t studied the same way that everybody else has, whereas there’s also a whole different process of education that they’ve gone through by having lived experience in the entertainment industry and the whole degrees that they do go into through “special admission” is related to entertainment.  It’s not like they’re using being an idol to then get into an engineering degree through university.

Yeah I assume it’s a token degree that they get.  Really I think that given what the music industry is like, get all the studying in that you can, you want to prepare your Plan B in case things fall out…

Yeah because it such a short-term career that it’s going to be very strange when you’re left without the fame in 5-10 years.

And that’s in the best-case scenario!  Most of them will not even get that much and will just be stuck with nothing at the end of it.

It’s a very brutal industry in terms of how much they demand from people in the best years of their life and what they’re left with at the end of it.  There was the girl from Kara Project (“Baby Kara”) called Sojin who committed suicide because she was born in 1992 and was already considered old for a trainee at the time of the program which was in 2014, she was “old” five years ago.  When she couldn’t qualify for the new KARA lineup she was left with the opinion of having nothing left of meaning for her life, so she trained for such a long time as a late teen and through her early 20s, that when it all amounted to nothing in the end she had nothing left for her to go into, it was very sad.

Yes, the whole system is very harsh, which is one of the reasons why I try to get people to talk about it [in Kpopalypse interview], which is nearly impossible, but it’s certainly worth doing!

I’m not sure how long Sojin was with DSP.  I assume the show was originally intending for two people to join for the sake of making a new five-member KARA, but then Youngji was so much more popular than everyone else that they just turned it into four instead, based off the ratings and the fan responses.  Because she was no longer required for the lineup, she was then dismissed from the company, and left feeling like her life had no meaning.

That’s one of the things that people who I’ve spoken to who have been in those situations have said to me, is the “all or nothing” mentality that a lot of people who are involved in it have, they really do not have a Plan B, and that’s really one of the scariest and most damaging things about it.  They have all their eggs in one basket.

I’ve got a friend who wants to be a musician and I definitely am supportive of her because she’s a very talented singer, but it’s just the nature of the business, it’s so unstable, you need to at least be considering other things and don’t put all your sense of validation and self-worth into one career path.

Or at least branch out into other related fields.

Yeah, that’s why I try to talk to her about how it’s not impossible to have a career in music but it doesn’t have to be as a performer, it can also be as someone who trains other people, there’s technical abilities, all that kind of stuff.  You don’t have to be performing in a stadium, you can be performing locally, there’s plenty of other opportunities I’m sure – as someone with no talent!

We’ll go to the next question: “Thoughts on prevalence of botox and other procedures or surgery in K-Pop, seems to me idols basically are forced to do it.(Personally huge fan of Twice Sana and Red Velvet Seulgi and from what I can tell their faces are like really stiff and its really unnatural)”

I guess I wouldn’t say it’s any more prevalent in k-pop than it is in any other entertainment industry.  I’m sure there’s plenty of actors and actresses in Hollywood who’ve had work done, so it’s not necessarily a k-pop exclusive thing, so therefore if you’re talking about celebrity ideals, everyone’s welcome to their opinion on how certain celebrities look because that’s again the nature of the industry.  I generally don’t spend too much time analysing it.  There’s some people where you can definitely tell they’ve had their eyelids done, or other stuff – I guess it becomes more of a concern to me when the celebrity in question is a minor.  I feel pretty upset when someone who has just debuted and is just a kid and not even an adult and apparently the company has forced them into having plastic surgery, that is when I guess it becomes quite sad.

Recently I did an interview with Oli London, who was the guy who spent a lot of money to look like Jimin from BTS…

Yeah – so you got to interview the guy?

Yes.  On the one hand, I would never do it, right?  But he wasn’t coming at it from the same way that I think a lot of people think.  My impression of that was that he was just like “this is what I want to do with my body and this makes me happy, and I’m quite happy with the results and I don’t really care what anyone else thinks about that”.  He had a similar attitude to other people who I know who are not k-poppers but who have gone in for other types of extreme body modification.  It gave me the perspective that he’s really coming at it from the same place as someone who gets every inch of their body tattooed, or gets a piercing through their knob or whatever it happens to be.  There’s a guy in my town called Mr. Tetanus who has got piercings in all sorts of weird places including his genitals and he does things like lift up bricks suspended on chains attached to his genitals…

I’ve seen those, they hurt to watch!  But I get a feel for what you’re talking about with that kind of stuff.

So is it really much different to that?  To me there’s a difference between someone who gets surgery because they’re extremely vain and want to please other people, and someone who gets it because that’s what they want for themselves.  Unfortunately with k-pop there’s the third element, which is industry pressure and the thought of “if I don’t get the surgery, am I cutting off my chances of being successful”…

Borderline contractual obligation, pretty much.

I’m sure that they don’t directly say “you must get surgery”, but I’m sure that they don’t need to, because I’m sure there’s that perception in the minds of everybody who is going through [training in] big companies, that “if I don’t get surgery, I’m competing with people who have the surgery”.

Yeah.  So it’s really not a fair competition.

Unless you have incredible self-confidence in that situation, you might think “well it might make my chances of fame 5% more likely, so maybe it’s worth doing.”

I think what you’re touching on as well with the guy who wanted to look like Jimin, is that when it gets to that stage it’s representative of deeper underlying issues, like self-esteem problems.  If you’ve got problems inside and you start to hyper-fixate on a physical part of your appearance to the point that you want to fix it, you start to manifest all of your insecurities onto this one physical body part, and you get this idea that if you fix it then all the other problem in your life are going to go along with it, like a subconscious thing.  So “I’ve got a horrible nose”, and then “well, maybe my job interview would have gone well if they weren’t staring at my nose”, or just other really weird things that go on in the back of your mind that you don’t realise are kind of insane but are really just a deep result of very long-term insecurities, and then you go get the plastic surgery and you go get it fixed, but because at the end of the day it’s the deep underlying issues that are the problem and not the physical manifested object, it’s fine for like a week or a certain time period and you think your life’s great but then the problem doesn’t go away but instead of addressing the problem it’s the next issue: “oh, I’ve got my nose done but my chin is too round, so when I get my chin done then everything will be better” and so on, and it just goes and goes until the real issue is addressed, or it just keeps piling up and becoming a bigger problem.

I know a girl who got breast implants and told me that it was because she wanted guys to like her more.  So I asked her – “did it work?” and her answer was “hmmm…. not in the way that I thought”.

[laughs]

Let’s move onto the next one: “I’m curious about how you both deal personally/internally with people on the internet misreading your tone/twisting your words to hate on you? Seems to be a common thing for you both.”

Yes.  Basically I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter, and I’ve been here for a very long time, nearly ten years on this app, and during that time I’ve been friends or had mutuals who are basically the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.  Super-friendly, super-polite, always going out of their way to try and make sure that their content was never misunderstood, but people would still come at their accounts and quote it and take things completely out of context and they’d be so distraught over it that they’d wind up deactivating, or they’d be “I’m so sorry, I never meant to say it like this, please forgive me!” and always having to explain themselves over and over again.  I already had enough self-esteem before I came onto the Internet that it was never a problem for me,  if anything it just reinforced this concept in my mind, that you can be the nicest person on the planet but there’s still going to be people who don’t like you, and there’s still going to people who are going to take your words and twist them into something that you know you didn’t mean, and that they know you didn’t mean, but they can benefit out of making you into a horrible person, so that’s why they do it.  I think it speaks a lot more for their insecurities than it does for my account, and if the people who are following them are dumb enough to believe them then it says a lot more for their stupidity than it says for my intelligence.  So if anything it’s just good to get them out of the way and block them!  You’re not the people who I want to be interacting with in the first place, so by all means continue to misinterpret and misrepresent my content all that you like, because at the end of the day you’re a cunt and I don’t want to know you!

I have the same thing happen quite a lot, and I don’t really worry about it, but that’s one of the reasons why I have a blog instead of just a Twitter account – I can go into anything at length and give full context to anything I want.  I don’t really worry too much about it.  I write a lot of serious stuff, and a lot of silly stuff, and there’s a lot of people who take it the right way, and a lot of people who take it the wrong way, but you can’t really hold yourself responsible for everyone’s different perceptions of what it is.  If someone’s just hating on me or calling me names I don’t care that much – often they come around anyway.  I’ve had quite a few people who’ve messaged me – privately, usually – saying “I’m 17 now, and when I was 13 I used to hate your guts and I thought you were creepy and you hated all my favourite groups and you were just being a scumbag for the hell of it, but then I got a bit older and I read it a bit more and I kind of understood it wasn’t actually about any of that stuff”.  So yeah I don’t worry about it.  I was always bullied at school so I was used to not really having a peer group and having people generally dislike me, so just the fact that I’m getting any sort of traction from my writing at all is to me really amazing.  I’m just grateful for that and I don’t really worry about the other stuff.  If haters have got good points then I’ll address them, but if they’re just being dickheads, then they’re just not reading, because they don’t want to, because they see the first few words and have made their mind up – so whatever!

A lot of people would probably know that my experience in the Army fandom has been a lot less than ideal.  It’s kind of just funny to watch all these people who became fans after BTS took off particular from 2017 onwards, telling me that I’m a “fake fan” and that I hate this group, that I’ve been a serious fan of since 2015, and someone who had been enjoying their content on and off since 2013-2014.  So it’s very funny to just have people who probably know shit-all compared to what I’ve known for several years telling me how much I hate this group.  Like “yes, tell me more!” – and if you were to go into it further, there’s a specific group of Armys who all are very popular accounts with 20,000 followers, I think the most popular is 60,000, these are just fan stan accounts, and they’re only friends with other people who have really high follower counts, and they have a group chat together, and they all decide who they’re going to pick on.  Like, taking Tweets, and cropping the content, so people can’t read the next Tweet, and obviously if you’re just looking at a few sentences out of a whole paragraph you can pretty much make it say anything you want it to say.

Well, any casual observer outside the k-pop fandom who knows anything at all about the BTS fandom, would probably be on your side anyway!

To be popular in the fandom these days you have to have a bunch of opinions and think in the same kind of way as everyone else, about things that are just factually incorrect.  Like the latest trend is about BTS not being a k-pop group despite the fact that they are Koreans who make pop music.

Three more questions – first one: “I would love to hear both of your thoughts re: how GFriend’s music and sound will continue to develop in 2019. I am a huge fan of the School Trilogy title tracks, I loved all 3 songs the first time I heard them. Their 2018 comebacks are good but 2018 has been a strong year of girl group comebacks overall, so GFriend’s kind of faded from my memory over time.  I know GFriend is the type of group that does a specific sound very very well, but I wonder if their company will start to feel unsure about continuing down the path, given the fierce competition between girl groups. Do you think Source Music will debut a sub-group to experiment new sounds for GFriend, since that could be a less expensive/risky venture?”

Interesting.  I know that they did deviate from their sound a lot more in “Fingertip” which was a Sweetune type song, that sounded very much like something that KARA could have done in their prime.  So that type of sound definitely isn’t the same as their School Trilogy concept, and then there’s the whole more melancholy vibe that their latest comebacks have kind of had in comparison to the School Trilogy sound as well.  So i wouldn’t say that they’re exactly the same, although it seems to be a widely-held opinion that they’ve got their own sound and it’s very similar, which I would debate – but I think the idea of a sub-unit is interesting.  I know that they’ve been giving the members OSTs and solos and they’ve had a couple of digital releases as individuals, I think Sowon is the only member who doesn’t have a solo song currently, or hasn’t been involved in a project.  SinB was involved in a collborative project on SM Station last year as well, so I think group-wise, it’s an interesting thing to try and predict what they’re going to do next.  Another example – “Sunny Summer” last year came right after “Time For The Moon Night”.

“Time For The Moon Night” was I guess a sleeper hit – it started out okay on the charts, it wasn’t a flop but it wasn’t the smash that “Rough” was either, but then it gradually kept rising and rising on the charts and it would have had an all-kill expect for that BTS made their comeback on the day that it was finally getting the traction that it needed.  After that kind of huge level of success, Source followed it up very quickly with a summer comeback that was done with the Duble Sidekick, the people who wrote Sistar’s summer songs.  Sistar disbanded the year before, last year there was this huge gap for any group to come in with a huge summer song and become the new “queens of summer”, I know Red Velvet were one of them because they had “Red Flavor” the year before and they followed up with “Power Up“.  Blackpink wound up being the biggest comeback of the summer for a girl group with “Ddu-du Ddu-du“, which was interesting because that wasn’t really a “summer” song.  If you’re looking at it from a purely analytical view, it was very interesting because I felt that it had all the keys to being a perfect all-kill super smash hit summer song, it was basically the exact same song that Sistar would have sung if they had their comeback.  They had Duble Sidekick, they had a specific summer track, and they wrote the member’s names into the lyrics which I thought was very clever, the song’s choreography was a lot more easy to follow so it would have been quick for fans or people ont he street who do dance covers to pick up and make viral, and it was right off the bat of a big momentum-boosting comeback for them – and yet the song didn’t really do that great.  It wasn’t a “flop” but it wasn’t what I felt like it had potential to be either.  So I felt like they have done changes in direction to try and appeal to the public, that haven’t quite worked as well for them as their peak at “Rough” public-wise did.  So they went back to the drawing board with the comeback they had just now “Sunrise“, and that was a lot more along the lines of “Time For The Moon Night”.  So I guess they’re going back to more of a melancholy mix with the original sound that they’re noted for.  So I think they’re still in the process of trying to figure out which direction is really going to work best for them, so until they get that down I don’t really see a sub-unit coming out, but at the same time I don’t think they’re opposed to being experimental, because a Sistar style summer song is different from their School Trilogy, which was different from “Fingertip”, which again is different from the more melancholy lyric content which has been coming out from their more later releases.

I don’t really have much to add to that, I think you’re probably bang on the money.  I don’t really think about it.  Because I have some sort of business background people are always asking me “what do you think [group x] is going to do” – I don’t even care.  The songs come out, if it’s good I like it, and if I don’t like it then I don’t, and I don’t really waste my time worrying about what groups are going to do.  I let other people have that conversation, I’ll worry about my own business first!  But I think your speculation is as good as anyone’s!  The next question is from one of my followers on Twitter: “Do you ever get called “alt-right” and/or “n4zi”?

I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken to this user because they’ve asked me the same question before.  [The answer is] not quite, exactly.  I’ve had people throw “racist” for the sake of me being a white person…

That’s pretty normal on the Internet these days!

My political views, spend five minutes on my Twitter account and a lot of the stuff that I do retweet, and you can pretty much gather that I’m not on the “right” side, I’m much more “left-leaning” in my politics, so I’m definitely not “alt-right” and I’m definitely not a Nazi, so if any of those claims were made, they’d just look so factually incorrect and like name-calling for the sake of name-calling, so it’s nothing that I’ve ever particularly worried about.

One look at your Twitter would allay those concerns quite quickly, I would think!  I get called “alt-right” all the time.  I’m not really sure what to make of it, because I’m not really sure of what the “alt-right” actually is, it seems to vary a lot depending in who’s talking about it, and even most of the people who are supposedly in the alt-right, even they are “no – the alt-right is something else”.  And no I’m not a Nazi – I have a German dad, but we were not pro-Nazi during the war in my family!  My grandmother lived in one of the main streets in Berlin, and the Hitler rallies would actually go down her street.  It was law that when the Hitler rallies went down your street, you had to have a swastika flag presented out the front of your house, and you had to go out the front of your door and give the Hitler salute.

Yeesh!

…and if you didn’t, the stormtroopers would come into your house and off you go.  That was the rule if you were living on a street that had an official march on it, that you had to do this to show your loyalty.  My grandmother would always pretend that she was deaf and so she’d never come out, so the Nazi soldiers would come into her house and get her and she’d say “sorry I’m deaf” and just play dumb and then she’d have to go out and do it, but she just did that as a bit of a “fuck you”.

A bit of subtle protest.

Yeah, because that’s about the maximum subtle protest that you could get away with, without being killed.  The other rule was that the flag had to be of at least a minimum regulation size, so apparently she got the absolute bare minimum that you were allowed to have and that was the flag that she flew.  You couldn’t really resist in any meaningful way, but she did resist in those little ways, which was funny.  It seems so minor but it was really such a balls-out thing to do.

Because of what was happening at that time.

Yes, anyone could have said “alright, off you go, onto the train”, so that would have been very scary.  But no I’m not a Nazi or a Nazi sympathiser, that should be fairly obvious to anybody I would think… I mean I wouldn’t be writing about Korean pop music for a start, I’d probably consider them the “untermensch”.  I don’t really talk about political opinions that much, mainly because I don’t think my readers are particularly interested in it, and also I deliberately don’t want to alienate people who might be on the extreme left or the extreme right, because I think it’s important to get all sorts of people of various political persuasions looking at some sort of writing that’s reasonable and rational, and that might get them thinking “hey, maybe my extremist views could come back to something a bit more rational”.  I think that’s healthier than saying “I’m gonna cancel all you Nazis” or whatever.

It’s an interesting line to kind of draw, because on the one hand it’s like no I don’t want Nazis engaging with my Twitter account or being followers etc, but then there was a black man who befriended members of the Ku Klux Klan and was able to convert 200 of them out of that type of thinking.  In terms of “cancel culture” on the Internet, what line do you draw, like okay, this person wrote some shit Tweets five years ago, but there’s potential for them to be redeemed as people – if a black man, of all people, can try and redeem members of the KKK, then I think that there’s potential to be redeemed from tweets you wrote when you were 13?

I think so.  Anything that gets people to stop talking and stop engaging is going to be bad, because if I’ve got some extreme right-wing views, and then because of that all the left-wing people shut me out, then who have I got left?  The only people who I’ve got left are the people who agree with my insane views, and I’ll just find more and more of those people because they’re the only ones who are accepting me.  Whereas if you’ve got people who are on the other side who can say “I’m still happy to talk to you, I just don’t agree with what you’re saying” then there’s potential for people to go the other way or at least have a bit of self-reflection and think “well okay, maybe I haven’t figured out the world!”

Yes, but also – I know people hear the term “white privilege” and they laugh at it, but I think it does apply to us in this situation because we’re not the ones personally impacted by those views, so I guess it’s a lot easier for us to engage with those people in hope that there’s chances for them to become better people when we’re also not the once dealing with their actual rhetoric in our daily lives because of that.

Maybe.  I can’t really speak for anyone else’s perspective on that, because I only have my own perspective.

Exactly.

The way I look at it, is “okay, what actually works, and what makes it worse?”  Maybe what tools I’ve got are different from what someone else has.

Exactly.  I think we’re both on similar pages, in the sense of “I would never”… For example I think it’s better that we’re in a position to hopefully talk to people and maybe pull them back from being so extreme right – or left – by being something that can expose them to different views as opposed to locking themselves in an echo-chamber of equally insane people, but at the same time it would never be something that I would therefore tell another person they’re obligated to have to do with their lives.  Especially if they’re a hell of a lot more impacted by that type of thinking.  To use the obvious example, I would never tell a black person that they’re obligated to stick around and be friends with people of other ethnicities who use the N-word in derogatory manners because hopefully being around them could help fix them – it’s not their job to fix the people who are impacting them.

Yeah I wouldn’t suggest that either, I just look at it from my personal perspective.  I’m not interested in dictating other people’s behaviour, whether that be their political beliefs or what they should do about other people’s political beliefs, it’s really none of my business.

Yeah, political questions especially on the Internet, they’re going to be really touchy.

I don’t really worry about it.  I just worry about how I relate to something and that’s my perspective – you can’t see the world from a completely different position, if you’re not in that position, and they’re not going to see it like I do either.  I think the average person can do a great deal of good just by not being a dickhead, a lot of the other stuff is really just details.  Last question: “I actually heard there is a lot of scam inside the kpop industry, like companies who claim they organise concerts but don’t even book a location or anything. Also Entertainment Companies which ask their trainees for money, or keep them in training for a long time without anyone ever debuting etc. What’s your knowledge /experience /opinion about this ?

Aus2one!  The immediate answer to that question, Naureen!

The K-pop Heart concert?

Yes!

Did you buy tickets for K-pop Heart?

I did!

So did I!

Yep – but I found out that Infinite wasn’t coming because they were heavily hinted, and when I found out they weren’t coming I sold the ticket the day before it was cancelled, so I was like… shit!  I’m really sorry for the person who got my ticket, but it’s not my problem!

I wasn’t as lucky as you, but I did get some interesting notices in the mail from the whatever the Australian credit collection people are, from the government, about how Naureen Gana went bankrupt.

Yeah, and then she apparently moved to Korea!

She fled to Korea and god knows what she’s doing now, probably scamming someone else I assume.  I saw her comment on some completely unrelated thread about some other business thing, and all these K-pop Heart victims found it and were like “don’t trust this woman, she did K-pop Heart!”

Holy shit!  How did they find her?

Just by Googling her name, same way I found her, because I thought “I’ve got to Google her name, I’ve got to find out what she’s doing!”

Yeah, because I haven’t heard from her since!

Who knows, maybe she’s changed her name, and god knows what else.

It’s weird because if you think about it she didn’t make that much money off it.

I think she owed collectively about $500,000.  The biggest people she owed money to were a Yoghurt chain in Sydney called Noggi, they put in a lot of money, a five-digit sum, there were another couple big sponsors like that, and the rest was just people who paid VIP packages.  All of that combined was $500,000.

Unreal.

She was making lots of noise in the media about refunding people, and it didn’t pan out.  I’ve heard about similar things happening in other countries as well, that’s just the Australian example, but I know there are ones in the USA and also South-East Asia that have gone in similar directions.

It’s not a surprise when you hear about it because there’s barely any regulation.  The way that concerts are organised in k-pop is totally different from the way a western concert is organised as well.  I think YG and Blackpink who are funnily enough coming to Australia, the way that they do their concerts is probably the most western because they’re done with LiveNation, whereas with everyone else it’s like you need to place a bid and the people who win the bid are the ones who go on to do the event organising as opposed to BigHit or any other company actually doing that side of the job.  So it’s a totally different way of doing things and it’s full of so much potential to get scammed because it’s so not regulated.

I think we’ll leave it there!  Thank you once again for talking to me!

No problem!


That’s all for this post!  If you would like to see AustralianSana & Kpopalypse discuss something in the next episode, you can submit a topic request via the form below, or if no form appears, you can click on the picture of Gfriend’s Eunha below to open the link to the request box as a separate webpage.  Stay safe, caonimas!

3 thoughts on “AustralianSana & Kpopalypse – Episode 3: k-pop ships, aegyo, Nazis and more

  1. Love you both talking about Gfriend’s musical direction, I wonder about it too. And fanfic, I’m guiilty of writing some myself, using my vast store of Gfriend knowledge… And I confess I ship Yerin with whomever she’s kissing that day, and of course SinRin forever! I love the vicarious feelings she gives me. Such a smart, funny, cute mood-booster! Yes, I think they all got aegyo training… 🙂

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