[Ponderings] K-Pop, the Magic Dragon
Updated: Jul 18, 2021
By Philip Suzara
Pondering… as I sit here at the edge of my mythical life pond.
One can see many things happening at the edge of life’s pond, as in any pond. Decisions are made there, life changing decisions, defining moments… to get in the pond, or not. The pond is encircled by its edges in different forms and kinds: straight, jagged, rough, rocks, pebbles, sand, soil, or mud. Very much like people. No matter the differences we have, we all belong there… around the life pond, inside, outside, at the edge, but there.
I think about our current events in the country, its on-goings, and whatever else is going on. We have brought out, quite a number of times, the country’s elephants in our rooms – even those that hide in the dark nooks and crannies.
There is, however, an elephant in the other room… I have to correct myself though, no, not an elephant, but a Magic Dragon. Not Puff, but K-Pop.
(with apologies to Peter, Paul, and Mary)
K-Pop, the magic dragon lived by the sea And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee Little Bang loved that rascal K-Pop And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff
Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail Bang kept a lookout perched on K-Pop’s gigantic tail Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came Pirate ships would lower their flags when K-Pop roared out their name
This is not a treatise about Korea and I may miss a few things here and there, but I’m just sharing something I find noteworthy. We come to witness sparks of light emanating from Asia’s Hermit Kingdom which had isolated itself in the mid-1800s, preventing trade, diplomatic, and cultural relations from the rest of the world. World War II saw them devastated as did their war with North Korea in 1950 that ended with an armistice in 1953.
I was fortunate to have been invited by Enderun’s great leader, Ed Rodriguez and his dear sister, Chay in late 2015 for the opportunity to learn about Korea’s The Saemaul Undong (SMU) – New Village Movement – which was created by the Park Government in the 1970s to lift the nation’s villages from poverty. This was Korea’s nationwide program of government guided participatory development, their government supported, modified and pervasive version of our very own Bayanihan. This concept was one of Korea’s early exports to the world which they enthusiastically shared with their international neighbours.
Next came the K-Dramas and Telenovelas that penetrated our consciousness and our homes. It wasn’t hard work for them doing that. We embraced them easily, their looks were Pan-Asian, and their plots were pretty much a slice from our daily lives, their storylines and acting was oftentimes better than our dramas. Piece of cake, this one. This phenomenon challenged our local producers and actors to do better. In fact, we, now, also have our share of drama and variety show exports to some of our Asian neighbours!
Then, shazam! Magic. BTS happens.
Not since the Beatles has there been any other group that has taken the entertainment world by storm, until BTS. I do Strategic Marketing Communications and I take my hats off to Big Hit Productions, BTS and their Team. The whole package is a real marketing coup and genius.
BTS, as a product, is really hard-core entertainment stuff. They are very superbly talented, they can sing and dance exquisitely individually, and more formidable, together. They take their craft seriously and their management team works with them tightly. I am told that it took a while to complete the group and another three years of gelling and honing their skills and talents before they were presented to the public. Instant hits, people fell in love with them!
They write their songs which have deep messages about loving and caring, of one’s self, of others, of nature and the environment. I particularly like “Answer: Love Myself” and “Whalien 52”… great messages.
They are philanthropists and have been UNICEF’s ambassadors for the Love Yourself End Violence Campaign since 2018, and I was in awe hearing RM, the group’s leader speaking in front of the distinguished U.N. delegates – he was, at once, eloquent and dignified. And they listened.
They have a healthy, dynamic, and interactive relationship with their fans who in their own time, evolve into being an ARMY. An ARMY is one who embraces all of them, OT7. Their relationship is so powerful as have been witnessed in Black Lives Matter where the group’s 1M USD donation was matched by the ARMYs in just about 24 hours later. They have been using their influence and sharing their blessings for the greater good.
Me, I’m just an ARMY dad fascinated by this whole phenomenon and still getting my indoctrination sessions from my daughter who is soooo into BTS, she dreams in Korean and can mutter a quick conversation. I am amused at the enthusiasm she and her friends have for the group and as well, with their particular “biases”. A bias simply means one’s particular focus or gravitation to a group member who they may be sharing with other friends, or not. We share our meals in the presence of her bias, joining us ever so quietly – not even a single Korean nor English word from him. Cardboard standees never speak, and I think I like it that way!
Online concerts and album launches are something else; they are a big thing to do. The lines, connectivity and equipment gets double checked and Hell be damned if that signal and power gets a glitch. This is also “Budol Day” when “merch items” are launched for public sale and the ARMY prepares to part with their hard-earned monies that they look forward to. These are times I get hosted to a treat of nice meals and drinks – love those launches!
This BTS phenomenon is such a welcome one as there is lively activity in this particular segment of society that is cutting across age groups and social standing. Theirs is a message of benevolence, of a free and beautiful world…
Pondering… as I sit here at the edge of life’s pond.
Creature of God. Child of the Universe. Global Citizen. Lover of Life. Freedom Fighter. Agent of Change. Lone Wolf. Occasional Consultant for Strategic Communications.