Fangirl Confessions: K-Drama, K-Pop, Or Both?

What's it like to be addicted to K-drama and K-pop?
PHOTO: (LEFT) Big Hit Entertainment, (RIGHT) While You Were Sleeping/SBS

Like a lot of women (and men, too!), I have fallen into the recent K-wave, or hallyu, "the global pop culture consumption of Korean products." This includes beauty, fashion, films, TV shows, and music. For those who have managed to avoid it—I'm in awe of you. And for those who have seen maybe one or two things and haven't gotten dragged into it, even more amazing! Because it doesn't feel like I'm cruising on said wave. It feels more like drowning than anything as it can get pretty overwhelming.

Whether you're a fan of just the dramas, the music or both, the influence of Korean entertainment and culture persists in our everyday lives. A friend of mine stated it pretty well: "Being a fan [of both] just makes you want to go to Korea all the time." 

~*K-Drama Fans~*


Nicole, 23


Favorite dramas? 
Rooftop Prince, Healer, She Was Pretty

Favorite actors/actresses? Park Seo-Joon, Song Hye-Kyo, and Jo In-Sung

How long have you been a fan? How did you get into K-Dramas?  

I first got into K-Dramas when I watched the dubbed version of Full House. I remember my cousins and aunts were clamoring to watch the finale on a ship to Bohol back in 2005. SuperFerry pa ata 'yun. We ended up watching it in the food court of the ship.

What keeps you hooked?  

What keeps me hooked through the years is definitely the kilig it brings. In 2005, I was only 11 years old, and only really appreciated the surface value of these shows— good-looking cast, kilig chemistry among the characters, and the lack of sampalan so prevalent in Pinoy soaps. Now that I'm older (and have studied film), I have a different appreciation for all things visual. The production value of the dramas keeps me hooked even more—the cinematography and lighting of Goblin and Descendants of the Sun; the sound and editing of Healer; the styling of She Was Pretty and My Love from Another Star.

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What do you like about K-Dramas? Is there a downside to being a fan?

I like the commitment to sticking to the storylines. Dramas usually only run for one season, and span 16 to 20 episodes—they don't drag on the plot just to please the fans or make money from ratings. Although I would love for my favorite dramas to have a second season, the stories end really well that you get the closure you deserve. And, honestly, you don't have to wait too long to get into a new drama since there are so many good ones anyway.

The downside to being a fan? I can never do anything else when I watch a show! Not even text! Reading subtitles requires my whole concentration! Also, the fact that we're so far away from our beloved oppas.  

Do you listen to K-Pop? 

I used to.

Why did you stop?

I think it's because I'm an older soul and appreciated the K-Pop circa 2005-2012 over the music now. I tried listening to the latest music of SHINee, and everyone I used to listen to and I'm just not feeling it anymore. Big Bang is an exception, though; they are timeless and eternal. I already know the commitment it takes to be a K-Pop fan, and I honestly just don't have the time anymore. Lol! 

Do you follow actors' activities outside the dramas?

I love following the Song-Song couple, and I always click links that involve Park Seo-Joon.

Are you open about being a fan or are you a "closeted" fan? Were you ever teased or judged for liking Korean dramas?  

I'm out of the closet. I'm a mild fan, I only really go all out fangirl to people who are also fans. 

Describe what it's like to be dedicated to K-Dramas. 

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It's... good and bad. I can definitely get sucked into their world—trading sleep and rest for two to three more episodes, and still dream about the drama when I finally sleep (looking at you, Healer). After I finish a drama, I put in so much time researching on the actors and actresses. It's a lot of energy over something that isn't necessarily productive for me. Luckily for me, my K-Drama addiction also helps me in my work. Lots of girls have finally ditched the Kardashian makeup trend, and now opt for Korean beauty looks.

It's safe to say that my dedication for K-Drama has influenced practically all aspects of my life in varying percentages. My skincare routine is all-out Korean, my fashion is influenced by their men's fashion, and I find myself constantly craving for bingsu, and forever asking my friends out to eat K-BBQ and drink soju.

Andy, 30


Favorite dramas? 
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo, Descendants of the Sun, Oh My Venus

Favorite actors/actresses? Lee Sung-Kyung, Choi Shi Won, and Song Hye-Kyo

How long have you been a fan? How did you get into K-Dramas?

Since around July or August of 2016—though it sure has felt much longer than that! It happened by chance. I saw a clip from Descendants of the Sun, then an entire episode, and then the entire series. I finished it in less than a week, but only because I had to adult. Left to my own devices, I would've finished all 16 episodes in a day!

What keeps you hooked? 

The cutesy stories keep me hooked. They're almost too cute, but I find the "babaw kilig" so endearing. Also, actors in dramas always seem to glow. You could go through an entire series just admiring their skin! 

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What do you like about K-Dramas? Is there a downside to being a fan?  

I wish I had a deeper, more soulful reason but honestly, kilig lang talaga. I love how the smallest gestures can turn you to mush. I mean...the wrist grabbing scenes have yet to get old. The biggest downside to being a fan is losing sleep. Dedication requires sleep deprivation. Lol! 

Do you listen to K-Pop?  

Yes, but I only get music from dramas I watch so I wouldn't consider myself a legit fan. 

Why haven't you fully crossed over?

I think it's because I can only direct my addictive energy towards dramas and skincare. If I add music, it might just be the death of me. 

Do you follow actors' activities outside the dramas?  

I used to, but because of real life, I've had to exercise restraint and limit myself to dramas only. 

Are you open about being a fan or are you a "closeted" fan? Were you ever teased or judged for liking Korean dramas?  

I am open. Not necessarily by choice, but I've come to terms with this side of me and have stopped trying to hold back. I don't think I've ever been judged… at least not to my face. On the contrary, a lot of people have come out to me as closet K-Drama addicts!

Describe what it's like to be dedicated to K-Dramas. 

Being a fan is like being in a ball pit. Once you get comfortable, you just want to stay longer even if you know you have better things to do. I deal with it by calling a friend to get by. Or I slump in my bed, stare at the ceiling, and wonder how a show can have such a dramatic heart-wrenching effect on me.

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~*K-Pop Fans*~

Kate, 27  


Who are your favorite K-Pop artists? 
BTS, BigBang, BlackPink

Who are your biases? At the moment, it's just Jin (BTS), but I used to be into T.O.P. from BigBang.

How long have you been a fan? How did you get into K-Pop?

I wouldn't say very long. If we looked at it in terms of start to present day, I'd say over 10 years? But if we looked at it in terms of actual dedication, I'd say at most a year. 

When I was in high school, a few friends were into Super Junior, so I'd say they were my introduction to K-Pop. But my interest died down for years until the universe sent EXO my way, and I tried rekindling my flame for K-Pop with them. But I realized that I wasn't that into them beyond the music videos and a couple of songs. Fast forward to this year: My re-integration just sort of happened via a makeup tutorial for a CL (of 2NE1 fame) look. It was then that I started watching 2NE1 videos, and looking at other groups' videos until I found myself watching BigBang videos, fan compilations, and variety show appearances in the wee hours of the night. BTS somehow found their way into this, like "where the hell did they come from?" Before I knew it, I had signed my soul away. 

What keeps you hooked?

The idols. Everything else is a product of my "relationship" with the idols. I like a song more if I like the artist, and I like the artist more when I like them as people. It's only when I get to know them as people, and "knowing" them on a more human level is what keeps me being a fan. 

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What do you like about K-Pop? What are the downsides to being a fan?

It's so freaking fun! I never realized how much fun it was to be into K-Pop. I also really like their concepts; you can't get visual stimulation like that anywhere else. You're also exposed to pretty people… like, all the time! Who can hate that?

A big downside is being aware of the nature of the industry. What we see is only the pretty side of the story, but idols have to sacrifice a shit ton to be where they are. It's a harsh industry, and it won't get any easier for future idols, as the standards get higher and the competition more grueling. Sometimes, I do feel bad that I buy into the illusion of it. 

Do you watch K-Dramas?  Yep, sometimes!

Why don't you follow dramas as religiously as you do K-Pop?

I did have my phase of obsessing over a K-Drama more than a decade ago. At some point, I grew frustrated with the love story tropes and cheese. I still squeal over accidental brushes of the hand and stolen glances, sure, but I can only take them in small doses these days. I guess I outgrew them? I find myself wanting to see more than the base level of love.

And, in my experience, actors tend to be less visible than idols. There are less chances to connect with them, and your attachment is restricted to the confines of a show.

Are you open about your love for K-Pop? Were you ever teased or judged for liking it?  

Only a select number of people know I'm into K-Pop. I don't advertise my interests to a large number of people because I don't want their comments or teasing to negatively affect my experience. 

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Because there was a stigma for liking K-Pop, I was hesitant to get into it in high school. But now, it's whatevs! I care more about my enjoyment than what other people think!

Describe what it's like to be a K-Pop fan.  

I'm currently not around people who are fans of K-Pop so I can't fangirl IRL. So, I have a dedicated platform specifically for fangirling over K-Pop, and I think compartmentalizing this way helps in my enjoyment because I get to concentrate and immerse myself as much as I want. I feel like I get to enjoy it more because of its detachment from my real life. 

What makes it thrilling to be part of a niche community?  

I feel like I am allowed to express my feelings as extremely and as often as I want, within the confines of the community, because other fans understand and do the same.

Erika, 22 


Who are your favorite K-Pop artists?
BlackPink, JJ Project, F(x) 

Who are your biases? Lisa (BlackPink), Jeonghan (Seventeen), and Amber Liu (F(x)) 

How long have you been a fan? How did you get into K-Pop?  

I've been listening to K-Pop since high school. I was initially exposed to Super Junior after their "Sorry Sorry" music video went viral, but I started listening to U-KISS first when my friend introduced me to them. They were also the first group I ever decided to bias. I started to search their interviews on YouTube, and followed their social media accounts as well. The rest is fangirl history.

What keeps you hooked?  

Apart from the cute guys (and girls) who can sing, dance, and rap (sometimes all at the same time!), what got me hooked was definitely the amount of production value companies put into their music videos and live shows. As a fan, I really feel like an artist cares about what I think and how I feel about an experience if they bother to deliver a show unlike any other. 

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What do you like about K-Pop? What are the downsides to being a fan?  

I definitely feel spoiled as a K-Pop fan. The artists I follow release teasers and albums on regular intervals. Aside from teasers, K-Pop artists usually include a picture book to go with an album and photo cards of members. They regularly tour in Southeast Asian countries as well, since they usually have a huge following here so there's always a live opportunity to look forward to.

A definite downside, however, is that you'll eventually encounter abusive fans who either demand too much of their idols or straight up don't treat them as people. Idols have taken down content they have been proud of or changed their looks because of demanding fans, and I find that incredibly disheartening. The K-Pop industry doesn't allow a lot of autonomy for its artists, especially newer ones, and to see them being bullied by fans just isn't right. 

Do you watch K-Dramas?  

I’ve only watched Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo. But Goblin is next on my list. 

Why don't you follow dramas as religiously as you do K-Pop?

Probably because I'm too invested in other shows and because I'm getting busier as well. It's a lot easier to keep up with K-Pop groups. It takes you hours to finish a drama but you can get into a group any time you want, as long as you have the free time to listen to their music.

Are you open about your love for K-Pop? Were you ever teased or judged for liking it?  

I'm a closet fan to some people, but generally, I am pretty honest if people ask if I'm into K-Pop. I usually get judged by people who have, in my opinion, pretentious taste in music. I think we all listen to music not because we want to be viewed a certain way by other people, but because music invokes something in us. We connect with the artist on a certain level. I've also gotten comments from people wondering how I can enjoy K-Pop without understanding the lyrics. Translation accounts and sites are a K-Pop fan's best friend so there aren't any problems on my end. 

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Describe what it's like to be a K-Pop fan. 

It's definitely an experience that isn't for everybody since K-Pop is still a very niche market. I would recommend K-Pop to anyone who is looking for something different in pop music. Whoever said artistry and talent is lacking in pop music obviously hasn't checked out K-Pop.

What makes it thrilling to be part of a niche community?  

Definitely the rate at which the idols I follow give us updates on whatever they're working on or their lives in general! Because of Twitter, updates come in like wildfire and although it does get overwhelming at times, it's very easy to get hooked.

~*All-Around Fans*~

Carmela, 28


What are your favorite K-Dramas? And who are your favorite actors/actresses?

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo, Fight for My Way and Reply 1988; Park Bo-Gum, Kang Haneul, and Park Shin-Hye.

Name some of your favorite K-Pop artists and your biases.  

BTS, Super Junior and CNBLUE. From the groups I mentioned, Jungkook (BTS), Heechul (Super Junior), and Yonghwa (CNBLUE).

Which one did you get into first, K-Drama or K-Pop? How long have you been a fan of each?  

I got into K-Dramas first. It was back in my senior year in high school, during our last few weeks of school. Princess Hours was showing on TV at the time and I ended up going online to binge-watch it since I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. It's been about a decade since my first K-Drama. It didn't really take a long while for me to start getting into K-Pop, too, because I remember already being a Super Junior fan by the time I entered college. 

How did you crossover from one to the other?

I think I was looking for videos of Full House and stumbled upon Super Junior who, at the time, just released a reality show with the same name. I ended up watching one episode after the other, and then moved on to their music videos and performances... It kind of just snowballed from there, haha!

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Why do you keep up with both? Currently, which one are you more up-to-date with?  

I think I've always appreciated the content and the production value of both. A lot of thought and immense effort go into producing both Korean shows and music. There are so many genres to choose from, new storylines to watch out for, and comebacks to look forward to so I'm never bored. K-dramas and K-Pop are among my stress relievers especially when I want to unwind after a busy day. I'm generally aware of both K-drama and K-Pop news since I like to visit K-entertainment websites in my free time. 

Are you a closet fan or are you open? Were you ever judged for liking either?

While "K-Drama or K-Pop fangirl" is probably not the first thing I would use to describe myself, it isn't because I'm a closet fan. In fact, my family, friends, and co-workers all know I enjoy Korean entertainment.

In the earlier days especially, when K-Dramas and K-Pop weren't as popular, people didn't necessarily understand the hype. A major barrier was the language. Some people joked that the boys were "too pretty" or that the idols all got plastic surgery. Now, I think it's great that people are slowly coming to understand why I enjoy Korean entertainment so much—more than aesthetics, it's about real talent, well-thought-out concepts, interesting plots, and flawless execution. Plus, I I get a sense of fulfillment when I manage to "convert" skeptics into fans. 

Is there a difference between being a fan of K-Pop and K-Drama?

It's challenging for me to separate the two because I have been both a fan of K-Dramas and K-Pop for so long! Plus, the delineation is becoming all the more blurry as more and more K-Pop idols are transitioning into dramas. 

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I noticed that K-Pop fans tend to be a lot more fanatic; they tend to support their groups regardless of the project. There's also a lot more content to consume and merchandise in K-Pop! With K-Dramas, in my case, it's usually more for the story than specific actors.

What's it like being a fan of Korean entertainment in general?

I honestly can't imagine life without K-Dramas or K-Pop. It's even more enjoyable now because there are more people I can share my interests with since Korean entertainment has gained significant popularity over the last decade. It's also exciting since Filipino fans are getting more opportunities to meet and watch their idols live!

Tuesday, 23 


What are your favorite K-Dramas? And who are your favorite actors/actresses?

My Love From Another Star, W: Two Worlds, She Was Pretty; Kim Soo-Hyun, Lee Joon-Gi, Jun Ji-Hyun 

Name some of your favorite K-Pop artists and your biases.

BTS and Seventeen. My favorites are Jin (BTS), Mingyu (Seventeen), Minhyuk (BTOB).

Which one did you get into first, K-Drama or K-Pop? How long have you been a fan of each?  

I got into dramas first, which stemmed from my love for the variety show Running Man. I've been into K-Dramas for almost two years, and I've been to K-Pop for a little over a year.

How did you crossover from one to the other? 

I got into both cause of friends, though they are different sets of friends. I was exposed to K-Pop idols through Running Man, and asked my friends about the industry. The initial interest in K-Pop came from understanding their marketing plan and their influence in media. 

Why do you keep up with both? Currently, which one are you more up-to-date with?  

The culture surrounding K-Pop is really interesting. Catchy tunes aside, it's built in a certain way that promotes a sense of intimacy with the fans, which can make people more invested. For K-Dramas, I follow it like any other show: cause it's good. It also usually has good production quality. I sometimes check out certain dramas when actors I like are in it. 

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I'm more up to date with K-Pop. I know more about the idols than actors. 

Are you a closet fan or are you open? Were you ever judged for liking either?

I don't deny that I'm a fan of either. In the beginning, I was more secretive about it but I didn't feel like concerning myself with prejudice of others. At the end of the day, they're just shows and music I like. It's still something I'm a bit more careful about—I tend to feel that I can't speak about it as freely as my other interests. I guess on some level, there's still some internalized stigma. 

Yes, absolutely. Generally, you get less judgment for liking K-Dramas. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that it's trendy right now, so it's way more accepted. K-Pop is different. For a while, I felt the need to be secretive about it. It doesn't feel very good to feel like you can't openly like something. I told my friends later on that I was into K-Pop and I definitely felt judgment. I think the main judgment comes from prejudice about it and with the fear that I would turn into a "Koreaboo." So I don't talk about Korean stuff with everyone, just people who seem to be interested. I try not to be too sensitive about it.

Is there a difference between being a fan of K-Pop and K-Drama?  

K-Pop can take up a lot more time because there's so much extra content! I also tend to spend more on albums, concerts, and other merch. K-Pop has a more niche fandom culture. K-Dramas is similar to following a normal show except with a lot of Korean culture thrown in. 

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What's it like being a fan of Korean entertainment in general?  

There's a bit of a struggle, language-wise, 'cause there are things that are lost in translation. I feel like when you really get into Korean entertainment, you find yourself being a fan of Korean culture as a whole in general. I've noticed that I got into Korean lifestyle like fashion, makeup, skincare, and food. 

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