Sasaengs, Ulzzangs and Mukbangs? If all these new fangled terms have you culture or generation gapped or – let’s face it: you’re just a sucker for interesting popcultural phenomena, the latest installement of Strange Kpop is just for you!
The Kpop scene is like a pressure cooker for strange new concepts. The expression ending fairy might conjure up images of some unusually ill willed magical creature tap dancing at the end of the world and while there certrainly are quite a few men who would be considered effeminate within Kpop, this expression has nothing to do with gender nor feminine behaviour. Ending fairy is both more simple and, at the same time, more complex than that.
As you get deeper into the wondrous and strange world of Kpop you’ll encounter a few expressions that sound intriguing but whose cultural meaning and nuance escapes you. There are few that capture the cultural uniqueness of South Korea and Kpop like “Let’s walk the Flower Road” or alternatively “Let’s only walk the flower road”. A saying with multiple meanings and used in several different contexts that has fascinated me since I heard it the first time. Let me take some of your time to tell you about what I’ve come to understand about it.
I used to hate doing burpees until i found the right song to motivate me. An upbeat Kpop production called “Deep blue eyes”. A song that had randomly found its way onto one of my playlists. The song was performed by the “Girls Next Door”, a girl group that was new to me. Watching the “Deep Blue Eyes” video on Youtube I realised it was a collaboration between several artists, a few of which I was familiar with. The song had been made to promote the variety show “Idol Operations Team” which in turn was a promotion and kind of behinds-the-scenes series about the web drama “Let’s only walk the Flower Road” that was written in an autobiographical style by the participants of Idol Drama Operations Team. Complicated? You bet! Kpop doesn’t become more meta than this…
If you think that the Japanese have a peculiar and intense relationship to cute things and cuteness the Koreans may well have the Japanese beat – If being “gyo”, ie cute has a special place in the hierarchical and confucianistic Korean society, then “aegyo” is the act of being cute. In its hardest to digest form, aegyo is both artificial, a part of the both the age and gender oriented social system and blatantly incentivised by gaining the performing individual something from someone else. For all intents and purposes aegyo has a lot of potential to culture-gap you to the point of being nauseous. Don’t let that deter you though – read on to enjoy all the intricacies of Aegyo!