The year I fell in love with the Prince of Asia

And, no, that’s not my (Annie’s) pet name for Curtis.

During our backpacking trip around the world in 2005-06, we found ourselves in this swanky hotel in the little town of Hoi An in Vietnam.  It was the first time in perhaps months where we had access to a TV in our room (with CABLE!).  We spent an afternoon surfing mostly music videos from Southeast Asia when we stumbled upon the South Korean boy band Super Junior.  Compared to the other videos, their music video was super high quality, and the choreography and music felt very familiar…but not.  It was our first foray into the fascinating and particularly addicting type of music coming out of South Korea — K-Pop — and we we’re hooked.

Now, you may think you know K-Pop from Psy’s stateside hit, and YouTube sensation, Gangnam Style (and, just in case you are NOT one of the 2 BILLION people on this planet who watched this video?  You’re welcome).

But Psy’s just the tip of the iceberg (and, like any good iceberg, most of K-Pop’s gems are hidden underneath the surface).

YouTube is K-Pop’s church.  And like all the faithful Hallyu fans, we gather (um…sometimes daily) to pay homage to our favorite artists.

It started with Super Junior.  Then, in 2013, our bass player and band manager Wil Tafolo — another huge K-Pop fan — introduced us to other K-Pop stars — Wonder Girls.  Girls Generation.  f(x).  Sistar.  IU.  Ailee.  Lee Hyori.  Hyolyn.  Gain.  The list really could go on and on.

Then I fell in love with THE Asia Prince, Jang Geun Suk.  K-Pop star.  Famous Actor in South Korean, Japan, and China.  Model.  Bad Boy (in a South Korean bad boy sort of way, which is to say he might get caught drinking in a local pub by paparazzi and immediately apologize the next day to his fans for his rude behavior (!)).

Like, that strangely weird and heightened crazy middle-school crush kind of love where you stay up way too late searching the internet for pictures, news, possible signs that he also carries a torch for girls with names that start with ‘A’…anything!  I JUST NEED MORE JANG GUEN SUK!!!!  I even had his picture as my iPhone screensaver for awhile.

But like a fine wine, our lust for all things K-Pop matured and we began to uncover more sophisticated artists.  My love for Jang Geun Suk waned (let’s be honest, the guy weighs 100lbs soaking wet.  It would never have worked out).   In fact, we’ve now crossed the bridge into K-Indie.  So, this week #TuneTuesday is dedicated to our love for South Korean culture and in homage to one of our favorite groups, Urban Zakapa:

Always with aloha, joy and music ~ Annie + Curtis

P.S. Let me be clear — South Korean’s export of culture is truly exciting.  While I poke some fun at falling in love with K-Pop, what I love most about the genre is it feels vaguely familiar to western music…but it isn’t.  It’s its own unique expression and combination of musical identities, and it wouldn’t be so wonderful if it wasn’t influenced by Korean culture.

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