This is just a short post to all Kpopalypse readers, to say thank you for 2022!
The end of 2022 marks 10 years of Kpopalypse dot com! When I first started writing I just wanted to have a blog to accompany my radio show so I could express some things in long-form that the music-heavy radio show format didn’t allow back then. I had no idea that the website would become so huge over time or that I would still be doing it a decade later. After a peak of 1,724,000 visitors in 2018, the website has now settled to a consistent average of 1,142,069 visits per year over the last couple of years, which for some reason feels like about the right number. Thank you to all people who continue to visit this website!
Although running this website for a decade might seem a bit surprising and has little precedent in the world of ad-free Korean pop websites, it didn’t surprise me too much that I’ve been doing it for this long. I’ve always loved writing even back before I was writing about Korean pop, and I’ve done my best to keep the posting interesting for myself by featuring the kind of content that I’ve wanted to feature more and more, and writing less and less about the things that I don’t care about, or that I don’t think are relevant, or that I feel other sites are covering sufficiently well to the point where my input is no longer needed. There’s plenty of k-pop content that you can get on other sites that goes over the same old talking points that fans who travel the k-pop web will be familiar with, so I’ve tried to focus on the things that make this site unique.
Having said that, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do for people on this website, even though it’s tricky to accurately gauge my impact. Regardless of whether mainstream outlets or k-pop fans in general acknowledge it or not, Kpopalypse has been at the forefront of several issues in k-pop over the last decade that have gradually entered the mainstream, and while I don’t know if I was the true source of any of it, I do know that I was the first one to do a proper job of a large portion of it. This site was the first one to ever publish detailed high quality long-form interviews with people who had been through the k-pop system, as well as the first one to devote articles to explaining the realities of k-pop contracts and debt long before any of this was common knowledge among fans of the music in general. This isn’t so much myself tooting my own horn, but rather an indictment of the slackitude of mainstream sites that cover k-pop. Even though I was spearheading these issues, I’m not a “news” or “journalism” site and I really shouldn’t have been the one to highlight these things, people with far more reach and power than me should have taken up these issues long ago. The reasons for nobody else doing it however are all too obvious – as this site is (and always will remain, as long as I am alive to pay to remove ads) advertiser-free, and I don’t make the deals with k-pop agencies that other publications make, I have no sponsors or benefactors to be scared of losing the good graces of. I’m pleased to see that due to growing fan awareness and fan pressure, issues that I covered many years ago such as dog-whistle and unfair contract terms are now finally becoming part of the mainstream discourse of k-pop websites, which is now putting pressure directly on agencies to address these concerns. This is a good development, but this should have happened long ago.
Of course the site has a lighter side as well, but everything that seems light on the surface at Kpopalypse usually has something else going on underneath that isn’t immediately obvious. The ‘objectification’ content which is what initially draws a lot of readers to the site is partly for prurient entertainment and fun but it’s also there to help people understand how objectification is simply a fact of the entertainment industry and that this process is a “top-down” process, not a “bottom-up” one. The real harmful objectification isn’t someone writing a smutty fanfic about their idol bias, or posting a picture with a thirsty caption saying they like how someone looks, it’s when people working at agencies have their physical and mental needs disregarded in order to fit the Korean pop system’s cookie-cutter mold, and companies sign people up to contracts that quite literally reduce them to an ‘entertainment object’ with minimal regard for their human rights, denying them their personal agency far more than someone sharing a picture ever could. Conservative pearl-clutching and progressive “concern” are both the enemy here, because they both divert attention to the consumer’s behaviour, but that’s not where the damage is being done. Harmless fan thirst is placed under scrutiny, which diverts that same scrutiny from large corporations as they get away with power-tripping creepiness and even literal crimes right under the nose of k-pop fans, the red flags of mistreatment waved away because these fans are obsessed with keeping a clean image, burying anything salacious and supporting the appearance of a functioning system that’s actually in serious need of reform from within, not without.
I spend a lot of time complaining about other sites and how they suck, so I should also take the time to be POSITIVE in Kpopalypse tradition and make special mention of the sites that I think are doing the best to serve Korean pop fans right now:
- I give Asian Junkie lots of shit because it’s funny and I’m an asshole, but the fact is that his site presents a rational and critical view of Korean news that is sorely needed in a landscape that’s otherwise almost completely dominated by corporate cock-sucking. Although not really a news site in the traditional sense, it’s still a great resource to go to for easy-to-read information that actually makes a difference in the k-pop landscape. Like my site, the fact that he’s such a high-standard resource really speaks volumes about how terrible so many of the mainstream Korean pop resources are.
- The Bias List is a really nice site for reviews, and you would be wise to make it your review-site go-to rather than my crappy weekly roundups that I only write so I don’t continually get “what do you think of song x” questions on a daily basis. Unlike me he reviews everything you can imagine including all those B-tracks that I deliberately neglect, and unlike me he’s actually a nice person so you can show his reviews to your grandparents and they probably won’t cut you out of their will.
- Korean Indie is an essential site to keep in mind and visit if you want to explore past the more commercial world of idol pop and discover new sounds and new people deserving of your support, it has lots of intelligent and well-written coverage of the less commercially geared ends of Korean music. Like anything outside of the pop realm the site doesn’t get as much traffic as it rightly should so make sure you bookmark and visit often. Gfriend have disbanded so they don’t have the option of being a Gfriend fansite to fall back on, so that means they need your support!
In 2023 Kpopalypse is going in one big and bold new direction which is writing a long-form novel – a full-length version of the “Show Me Love” short story which will go into much greater depth with all the characters, have several new plot points and many more interactions (uwu) and will definitely also be even more problematic, violent and unpleasant than the short story, so the readers that don’t get scared away should enjoy it immensely. At the time of writing this post I’m already 50k words into it, and the way it’s looking it may end up being the first book in a series. Don’t worry k-pop company staff who are reading, no real life k-pop agencies are implicated, it’s all as fictional as any good Rachel Kim novel! Other than this, all the regular features that you already know and love/hate at Kpopalypse dot com will continue!
I’d just like to finish up as usual by saying a big THANK YOU to everyone who visits this site! Whether you’re a regular reader who looks at each new post, or someone who only checks in weekly, monthly, yearly, or just whenever you can’t resist a good hate-read, I definitely appreciate the support from all of you! In particular I want to thank Lissa Caonima who has made tremendous efforts this year purely of her own free will to bring this site’s content a brand new audience through the “Kpopalypse Hot Takes” TikTok account, I appreciate your work here very much! Extra special thanks also to the readers who have chosen to support this site via Patreon, I don’t list Patreon supporters publicly in order to protect their privacy, but your monetary support, whether you give a little or a lot is very motivational and makes a massive difference to the types of content that I can produce for you, the novel publication in 2023 would simply not be possible without this support, this money also pays hosting fees and keeps this site 100% advertisement-free which is a great thing for everyone! Thanks to all of you, and Kpopalypse will be bringing you more posts, and more of the snarkiness, stupidity, sexiness and satire that you crave (or not), in 2023!