Since I am new to this community, I thought it would be nice to share how my love for South Korea began. I'm sorry for the length, but this is the first time I'm really disclosing the whole story.
During the Spring of 2010, I was a relatively shy and unmotivated 17 year old girl. My best friend, a half Vietnamese beauty, was the only silver lining in my rather dark world. "Hey, Kelly, I want to show you something!" She said excitedly as she raced to her computer and sat down on the black office chair. Wordlessly, as always, I followed her steps and settled behind her. I would find out later that this is where she always wanted me. She pulled up a music video of a heartwrenching story of a man losing the woman he loves to another man. The lyrics didn't have to be in English for me to understand the pain and longing in them. It also didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that those words moved me. Living in small town America, where diversity is almost nonexistent, and the only language that exists is English...I foolishly thought that my friend had shown me a Vietnamese artist. I've found that mindset is frequent in this world. If you know English you should, naturally, only listen to songs sung in English. Following this logic, I assumed that her Vietnamese heritage meant that, outside of English, Vietnamese entertainment would be her only other music choice. I fell so hard for that song. At least, I thought that was what it was. I later discovered that, even though Taeyang is a treasure, what I really fell for was Korean.
Being unmotivated for so long, I couldn't ignore the pull I had to find out more about the singer, the lyrics, the language of the music video my friend had shown me. Thankfully for the internet, I discovered that Taeyang, was in fact, not Vietnamese. And, that there were many other incredibly talented artists out there. It would take me another year or so to figure out that Taeyang was part of an idol group. Beast and After School were the first 2 idol groups I fell in love with. And for a long time, Taeyang, B2ST, and After School would consist of the Korean artists on my iTunes library.
Taeyang, and Wedding Dress, have been with me through many ups and downs in life. Taeyang was a parting gift I received from a toxic friendship. Wedding Dress served as the "anthem" that built a best friendship/sistership that I couldn't even imagine my life without today. Finally, opening my world to Korea allowed me to let in, and bond with, my first love. Sure, it didn't last. And, sure, it was the furthest thing from being considered "perfect", but for the first time in my life, I wasn't tied down to small town America. The boundaries I was born into no longer existed. There were years after my first love dissolved, that I couldn't physically get myself to listen to Taeyang or Beast. They were the backdrop of a broken relationship that reminded me of my broken heart.
Saying goodbye to Korea is something that will not happen in my lifetime. As my 15 year old nephew observed, "I always thought it was a phase for you, but years later, it never passed. This isn't a phase. This is you". So, even though, it was hard for me to listen to the artists that brought me into this world, there were others that helped my stay be less heartbreaking. My fate with Korea has probably been the best relationship I've been blessed with in life. It gave me motivation, reason, and something to look forward to everyday. I finally had something that made me proud of being who I was. My love for Korea was nothing I thought would ever happen. Not that my mind wasn't open, but because how can you predict something so wonderful? I was introduced to the music almost on accident, and I stumbled across the dramas when trying to find something to watch on Netflix while packing. We were fated ♡
Although I sometimes wished my "introduction to Korea" didn't have so many scars...I've grown to love it even more because of those very same scars. They are proof of my strength, love, and that I'm really alive. I will always be thankful for the people that helped me uncover my passion, even if we were fated to end badly. In the almost 6 years since my love for Korea began, I have introduced many people to kpop, kdrama, and South Korea as a whole. Although I love how happy my friends/family have become with the addition in their lives, I'm glad my start was a rough one. Having the pain, judgment, and heartbreak made me realize that this wasn't just one of life's phases. 이것은 진심이다.
To all of those that took the time to learn about my journey, 정말 감사합니다! Although the beginning of my love for Korea wasn't all pretty, it is still strong. My love grows everyday, and I hope to meet more people who share this with me ♡