Fan Perspectives: Teaching Abroad

Nichele, Kpop fan

Nichele Anderson is an English teacher in Busan, South Korea. Nichele completed her undergraduate degree in Communications at the University of Michigan and her graduate degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Roosevelt University. Although a teaching profession is not one she had in mind, she has found a passion in a job combining teaching as well cultural & language exchange. In the future, Nichele hopes to continue her travels and make use of her marketing and communication skills. 

How did you get into Kpop? What were the first songs you heard and videos you watched? 

My friend in university introduced me. She was an Asian Studies major, with a focus in Japanese culture. While watching videos on her computer, the playlist shuffled to Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” (2009). I had no clue about anything pertaining to Korean culture at the time. Seeing the video, I thought 2 things: 1-Oh my God, why are there so many of them? And 2-Wow, they can actually dance really well (for Asian guys haha sorry). After that, I also listened to Super Junior’s “It’s You”. But although it was catchy at the time, I soon forgot about them. It wasn’t until 2010 and Bonamana that I became a big fan and really got into Kpop. Probably because the boys had a more mature look then.

Who are your biases? What artists are you listening to now? 

These days my biases are Super Junior, Big Bang, 2NE1, Jay Park, CNBLUE….and a guilty pleasure Teen Top!

What was it like moving to Korea? Was it hard to adjust? 

I actually get asked this question a lot. Moving to Korea was kind of easy for me. Back home, I was tired and becoming disillusioned after graduating with my Master’s degree. I wasn’t where I wanted to be or where I thought I should be in life at that point. So coming to Korea was an escape in some respects. I felt liberated. I would finally get to travel and have a pretty steady job with good pay and benefits. Of course, language is the first barrier most foreigners face but I like to study language and have done well in learning it. I’ve had a quick and great adjustment here. I’m not ready to leave and come back to the States yet lol.

What are concerts like in Korea? Was it what you expected? Who have you seen perform? 

Concerts in Korea are done on a big scale. They completely exceeded my expectations. Lights, fireworks, props, costume changes,cosplay, tv screens….but most of all, fan projects! The fans go all out to make and distribute banners, give artists catered meals (aka food support), give out colored light sticks as to spell messages in the crowd so artists can read it. It is the most organized fan support I have ever seen. I wonder how people have the time and money for it all!

Jay Park, "Know Your Name"

I have seen many concerts: Super Junior (3 times), Big Bang (2 times), Jay Park, G-Dragon. I have also been to a few music festivals and seen several artists perform 1-2 songs such as: Teen Top, DBSK, SISTAR, MBLAQ, EXO, B2ST, Secret, Miss A, and many more~. Being a foreigner here can give you some perks such as free concert tickets. I assume it’s because television networks want to prove how global Hallyu is these days, and what better way to do than filming foreigners in the front row of a concert!

What are Kpop fans like in Korea? 

I touched on it a little bit before; they are very organized and dedicated to their biases. In addition to food support, there are birthday projects, cast and crew projects (where they provide food not only for the artist but for the entire cast/crew of a tv show or drama), and other things. Generally, Kpop fans are kind and welcoming with other fans…you will always have something to discuss in your biases. Occasionally, as a foreigner, you will witness a hierarchy in the fanbase. Sometimes, Korean fans feel as if they should have more “privilege” over foreigners or open recording will limit to official fan club members only. These are minor inconveniences though.

Eunhyuk of Super Junior

Have you met any Kpop stars? 

A few days before Christmas 2012, a friend of mine was visiting Seoul. We heard that Eunhyuk would be going to help out and make an appearance at his mother's bakery. We arrived and after waiting outside--because the bakery was too small to fit all the waiting fans--for about an hour or so in the Seoul winter weather (cold, so very cold), Eunhyuk came...walking right through the crowd without bodyguards or managers. He disappeared inside for a bit, and came back wearing a Santa Clause outfit!! Very adorable. He happily took orders from fans, chatting and joking with them. When it was my turn, I debated whether or not I should try to speak to him in English or Korean. At that point, my Korean skills were just as bad as his English skills! The conversation was thus a mix of both lol. I was probably in a state of awe, but I remember giving him a present and he accepted it graciously, saying thank you in Korean and that he like it. It was just an item with leopard print on it--he is known to like that style. The whole encounter was probably less than 2 minutes! Anyway, I also got to meet and speak with his mother. She took a picture with my friend and I and laughed about my friend who came from Australia and insisted on seeing Eunhyuk first.


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