For Karen, 32, listening to K-pop—let alone actually stanning a group—never really interested her before. "I first got into EXO back in 2018. I'm actually sort of a late bloomer," Karen tells Cosmopolitan. But it all changed when she watched an episode of one of her fave Korean variety shows, Running Man, which EXO's Kai and Sehun appeared on. "After I finished the episode, I just thought to myself na, 'Hmmm, ma-search kaya sila sa YouTube.' And I remember the first-ever video that I watched of EXO was their dance practice for 'Monster,' which is actually one of their biggest hits and it's my favorite song until now. The next thing I know, I was searching more of their old videos, their old concerts, and then I started knowing all of their names."
In spite of her relatively short time as an EXO-L, she's already experienced fangirling milestones some of us could only dream of, like flying to Korea to visit EXO's agency SM Entertainment, and attending EXO's Manila concert in 2019! "One of my most favorite places during my [Korea] trip was the SM Entertainment building," Karen gushes. Her experience was made more memorable when she chanced upon some idols practicing in their training room! Even if she couldn't see who was inside the room (it's made of soundproof glass with a curtain covering it), her gut told her it was EXO because her visit happened on the same month their fifth album, Tempo, dropped!
In 2019, EXO came back to the Philippines for their concert tour EXO PLANET #5 – EXplOration in Manila. And even if Karen faced some challenges in securing a ticket—"I remember it was a very stressful time for me and my best friend," she recalls—she ended up scoring one when SM announced an extra concert date! And as for the whole concert experience itself? Karen says she didn't know how to react when she saw her boys on stage for the very first time in her life: "All I know is that everyone around me was screaming and it felt like time has stopped. It was such a special, special experience and I'm going to be keeping that with me for as long as I am an EXO fan, which I guess will be forever."
Watch more of Karen's highlights as an EXO-L in Episode 23 of the Fangirl Diaries below:
Cosmo Fangirl Diaries: Attending the EXO PLANET #5
Are you also an EXO fangirl? Share your EXO bias in the comments section!
Catch a new episode of Cosmo Fangirl Diaries on Facebook and YouTube on Fridays!
VIDEO PRODUCED BY: Jacinda A. Lopez, Andie Estella, Lily Grace Tabanera , and Louise Ferrer
VIDEO EDITED BY: Alyza Angeles
Follow Karen on Instagram.