Bangtan is Coming for You, America

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BTS (방탄소년단). 2017. Photo courtesy of BigHit Entertainment.

Let me preface this by saying that, yes, I am somewhat a BTS fan. But no, I am not an ARMY. Like some of the groups I listen to, there are quite a few reasons why I tend to avoid their fandoms and sometimes have a love/hate relationship with their companies. But I digress…this is not about the ills of Kpop. This is about how BTS is coming for America.

And none are prepared.

In all seriousness…when is anyone ever prepared for Bangtan? 피 땀 는물 (Blood, Sweat, and Tears) came out and fans just about lost their minds. Honestly, you should’ve seen the views (and comments) skyrocket in a matter of moments. Although it wasn’t the first time, this particular music video (MV) reminded me that YouTube is clearly not prepared for repetition of a single MV during comeback season. YouTube actually freezes the view count thinking some to be spam.

Maybe on another video, YouTube. These views, regardless of the short time frame, are real. I promise you they are.

(That goes for most MVs of Kpop groups during a comeback. Just look at Monsta X, Twice, Seventeen and EXID’s recent comebacks and the number of comments about frozen views.)

Billboard thought they were prepared for Bangtan, but they seriously (and I do mean, seriously) underestimated the power of Kpop fandoms. They thought they were handling fans well with Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. Let me tell you a little not-so secret: fandoms roll deep (internationally). Good or bad, they will stand (emphasis added) their group and some will even bulldoze a path for their group to get to the top.

And that was just for an award from social media. Now you’re putting this group on local news stations AND having them perform.

So again I tell you, you are not prepared.

Kpop groups, Bangtan included, get just about as many views for their dance practice videos as their official MVs. Non-kpop fans are about to be dazzled by colors, J-Hope’s hair flips, and about 5 million hours worth of practice. Not to mention that you caught them JUST after releasing a new single and album (full-album, too) that’s already pretty Westernized (along with the “name change,” which is a whole separate discussion). I guarantee there will be new people tuning in to the American Music Awards tomorrow who wouldn’t normally watch it.

Now the question(s) of the weekend: will you watch just for BTS (and apparently GOT7’s Jackson is supposed to attend as a representative for China’s Alibaba Tmall)? Are you hyped for their performance? Do you prefer English versions of their songs or the original? What do you think about this American takeover business? Let me know in the comments!

Well, whatever you watch/do tomorrow night, just remember, stay legit my peeps.

Nyke

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Speeches and Platforms, Pt. 2

The entire month of October has been crazy, y’all, let me tell you. For one, I officially began my final course (capstone) for my master’s degree in technology and social entrepreneurship. I’ve got two big things going for it (growing the KeativeTherapy brand and a girl’s group) and now I’ve got to buckle down and do it. Two, I’m planning on joining a new church—one in which I have already been sucked into the Children’s Ministry. And by “sucked into” I mean it called to me. I seriously love kids and want to protect them so yeah, I was going to join the team. Didn’t I say it called to me?

The craziest thing that happened this month though was winning the Popularity prize in the Korean Speech contest. Yes, I won something! Although I did hope to win, I wasn’t completely expecting to actually win. I was grateful for the free classes next term and the opportunity to speak using the language in which I will eventually become fluent. Icing on the cake was the amount of congratulatory words and encouragement given to and from the contestants. Of course, us beginners and intermediates aspired to be like the 1st place winner who was truly fluent.

To celebrate, I used my gift card from Genwa to treat my mom to a (very) late Korean BBQ birthday lunch. I got my mom to eat ojingeochae muchim (spicy dried squid strips)—TWICE. AND SHE TOOK SOME HOME. This is a woman who can barely eat shrimp if it’s not fried and is not a big fan of spicy foods. I should’ve taken pictures of her face when she found out what it was. I think she’s still in shock.

As we now enter into November and the rest of the Autumn season, I’m excited to see what these next months will bring. I’m looking forward to having the site completely finished so I can move onto other things on my to-do list, but one step at a time. I have to trust and enjoy the process.

So remember, always stay legit my peeps. c;

Nyke

 

Speeches and Platforms

Pray for me y’all. I made the leap. I entered the Korean speech contest hosted by the Korean Cultural Center here in LA. Okay, forget leap—I jumped off the cliff and into the deep end. I’m going to be standing in front of native speakers, fluent speakers, and my classmates talking about my journey with and love for Korean culture.

And in honor of Hangeul Proclamation Day (which is actually on October 9th, by the way).

Now there were two reasons for me to force myself to do this, even though I’m kind of terrified, and they are the same two reason for me taking an actual Korean class instead of learning on my own and through friends. I started taking classes to one, force me to speak instead of always listening/writing, and two, be a part of a community. The first reason is kind of obvious because I’d rather talk to a person who can correct me than try and correct myself. The second reason is because I’m building a foundation, a platform so to speak, to aid others as well as get some help for myself and to show love in LA.

When it comes to platforms, you know, the word we now use for those who have access to presenting themselves or their art/words/businesses/etc., I’ve seen a lot of people abuse their positions. Some get to a position of power and recognition and they like go rogue or something. They were going for the power and recognition under the guise of helping others or wanting to be in community with others and then their real selves came out. I’ve also seen lots of people who have stumbled onto platforms or been given platforms that have aided them in their true purposes.

Like my mother, for example. She’s always been a singer and actress, starring in Gospel stage plays, but put a lot on hold for my brother and I. Now that we’re pretty much adults, she’s actually been blessed to be in commercials! However, instead of bragging about her commercials (this latest one was for GE’s Sol Lamp powered by Amazon’s Alexa), she’s used her funds to help out her communities here in LA and in her hometown in Mississippi. She’s also used her influence on set to not just brighten up people’s days, but also to speak about the Gospel of Christ to individuals who want to hear it. It’s honestly brought people together and shown me that influence (platforms) amplifies what’s really in your heart. So, please, build platforms for community—not destruction. I will do the same.

And remember to, stay legit y’all!

P.S.  Go like my mom’s commercial on YouTube, please! She’s the beautiful black woman with curls. C:

Nyke

2 Legit 2 Quit

Once I was referred to as legit. It was my first time in a community group and my third time visiting a new church in Boston after I felt that God was guiding my life around a curve. I was probably a bit awk because none of the people I met Sunday were coming and on top of that I was the first person there and one of the last to leave this somewhat stranger’s apartment. I may be an extrovert, but I have introvert tendencies.

However, the Bible study was on point and challenging and the conversations afterward made me feel welcome. I explained what led me to the church, sang praises of the trio Beautiful Eulogy and found a fellow Z.Tao fan with whom I could be excited (read: fangirl) about his new music and films. And that’s how I became legit—by way of my love for this former Kpop boy band member turned Chinese rapper. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to have found people whom I’d enjoy having in my tribe.

This same feeling of being legit happened to me at KCON LA last week and I’m having withdrawals. Not only did I win a hi-touch pass for my ultimate bias group, VIXX, but I also got to see swangel Kevin Woo, take a photo with the awesome Sam Okyere, watch KARD’s soundcheck from a private box at the Staples Center and rave about my girl Heesun Lee and Show Me The Money. I had conversations about 슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다 (The Return of Superman), cultural reconciliation, language study tips, and food. On top of that, I met a scholar of Afro-Asian cultural production, Dr. Crystal Anderson (Dr. CeeFu), who is honestly living part of my dream. For a first time attendee at KCON, I had so much fun.

And it solidified me continuing this journey towards a PhD and beyond.

The entire weekend, I was constantly reminded of this deep love I’ve had for various cultures, especially East Asian ones and specifically Korean and Japanese, since a child. I was reminded of why I am becoming fluent in Korean and Japanese. I recognized who I am, who I was made to be, and how my heart beats for ethnic reconciliation, cross-cultural friendships and love that is not flaky or untruthful or lasts only as much as someone is made “happy.”

I was reminded that I, and being a black woman studying ethnicity and cross-cultural interactions, am too legit to quit. And that there were others around me who are just as legit.

So this is why I’M BACK, BABY! KeativeTherapy has been my brain child since 2010 and because of school and life it’s gone through many changes and been put on hold. But I say no more. Thank you to those who have subscribed, read, followed, and supported me in so many ways. Please bear with me now as I keep the site open while it’s under construction. I’m solidifying a biweekly posting schedule and other things, so please hold me to it!

Stay legit, y’all!
Nyke