NoonaFan is the creator of NoonaFan.com, a Kpop commentary blog, focusing on Kpop music review, Korean Drama review, and Kpop editorials. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA with her husband, 2 terribly misbehaving dogs, and quite possibly the smartest, most devious Siamese cat known to mankind.
When or how did you get into Kpop?
I am slightly embarrassed to say that I hadn’t heard of Kpop until I heard Psy’s "Gangnam Style". Before it went mainstream it was a “joke” in mainstream American circles. People shared the video because they thought it was funny, it was only after more and more people started watching it that they started to realize, “Hey…I actually like this.” I saw the video before it became a phenomenon in America, when the “internet nerds” had gotten their hands on it. Since I work in retail electronics, I know several of the “4chan” type. However, my reaction was quite different. While, yes, I thought it was funny, I also loved it! You know how YouTube pops up similar videos after a video has ended? Well, one night after watching Gangnam Style, I clicked on BigBang’s "Fantastic Baby" and that was it, I was down the rabbit hole. I now have an every growing playlist of over 600 Kpop songs. I think I was well suited to become a Kpop fan because I’ve always been interested in Asian culture. I was obsessed with Sailor Moon when I was a child and I still have every episode in the original Japanese format. My mother would come back from her trips to Canada and bring me back Sailor Moon videos since they were easier to obtain up there in the late 1990’s. As well, I was a dancer up until the age of 18 when I couldn’t continue anymore due to injuries. The dancing in Kpop was a huge hook, line, and sinker for me. It makes me long for the days when I was a choreographer and I could dance those kinds of dances.
There are so many Kpop groups that are skilled dancers - which one should we all go watch right now?
As far as I know there aren’t any “undiscovered” or “underrated” dancers in Kpop right now. If someone has skill it is usually showcased quite well. If you were to ask me whom I think is the most skilled…well that I can answer with certainty. Right now, the best dancers in Kpop are Shinee’s Taemin, EXO’s Kai, VIXX’s N, History’s Kyung Il, Infinite’s Hoya and Dongwoo, Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon, and f(x)’s Victoria. I’ve chosen those based on training and skill. Now, most of those are no brainers, but the obvious omission is 2NE1’s Minzy. I did not include her because while she is a good dancer, I haven’t seen improvement over the years and I still feel like she lacks control in some areas. I am a much harsher judge than the average Kpop fan because I’ve been a judge for dance auditions before, I’ve had to shine the light of cold hard facts and view dancing through a critical eye. I love Minzy and I will always be a fan, but I still choose not to include her among those that I consider “the best right now.” Just because someone is good at popping and body rolls and has rhythm does not always mean they are the best. There are probably some that I’ve missed, but I can’t include someone who I haven’t watched a lot and had time to draw an appropriate conclusion.
Woah, color me embarrassed!! I can't believe I forgot to include Big Bang's Taeyang in my list of best dancers! While he doesn't have a broad spectrum of technical training I don't think there is anyone else in Kpop who has improved more or worked harder at dancing than Taeyang. Seriously, hats off to him for his hard work!
As a dancer, do you get into the dance practice videos and live performances? What's your favorite format to consume choreography?
Even though I am past my dancing prime I will always love dancing and the fact that many Kpop groups release dance practice videos, it just leaves me in heaven every time one is released. I prefer the one shot, in the studio dance practices. If there are camera cuts you don’t see the full dance in its entirety; that is why it’s hard for me to watch some of BEAST’s and BtoB’s dance practices, they have weird camera angle changes and cuts, same with some of 2NE1’s. Groups like BTS, VIXX, and Infinite (just to name a few) do a great job of just simply showing the dance practice in one shot.
What is it like being a Kpop fan where you live?
It’s like being on an island. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. That is the “bible belt,” the American south, the home of the most ignorant people you will find in this country. The few times I’ve met a fellow Kpop fan it’s been like someone has come to shore with a bottle of water. I get teased, laughed at, and condescended to. Luckily, I am in my late 20’s and couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of my musical choices. My real friends tolerate and even enjoy a few of the Kpop songs I’ve played for them. My boss at work loves Super Junior’s "Sorry, Sorry."
Having been teased for being a fan, do you find that Kpop is a form of identity for you?
I do not see Kpop as a form of identity for me, however I can understand why it may be an identifying factor for the younger crowd that is still maturing and finding themselves. As I said before, I am in my late twenties, I know who I am and I know what I like. Yes, I get teased and made fun of but I don’t really care, my self-esteem is enough intact that I can take a few blows to it every now and then. In my teen years my attachment to music was much deeper; I was finding myself and becoming the person I wanted to be. I’ve long since passed that, but I remember the feeling and it is intense; that attachment and the way we identify with art when we are growing. I get little inklings of that feeling every once in a while. I do have an addictive personality (as in, I can easily become obsessed with or attached to something, it’s how I ended up a cigarette smoker for years; 3 years smoke free now though!). I find myself having to take a step back when I see something Kpop related I want to buy. I step back and think of my car payment, my mortgage! However, sometimes I let myself splurge, I recently purchased NOW: BTS in Thailand! directly from South Korea (the shipping cost more than the product itself). I paid way too much for it but it made me happy. I am an adult, I can do what I want (hahaha).
What Kpop communities are you active in?
You heard the part where I said I was in my late 20’s, right? I don’t have the time to be active in any Kpop community (hahaha)! I work over 40hrs a week, I’m married, I have three pets, one of whom is getting old so she needs a lot of attention, and I am also a full time online student. I follow a lot of groups on Twitter and Facebook, but that is the extent of it. My contribution to the Kpop community at large is my website, noonafan.com. Since I’ve gone back to school I’ve decided I don’t want to be stuck in electronics retail for the rest of my life; I’d much rather do what I love and do best: write. Once I graduate I will be looking for jobs in the editorial sector of writing. In part of building my portfolio I solely maintain my website which is a Kpop commentary blog, focusing on Kpop music review, Korean Drama Review, and Kpop editorials. I like to keep things on the lighter side so I tend to incorporate a lot of humor into my writing.