Meet some of America’s biggest K-pop fans

For Mimi, K-pop isn’t just another style of music — it’s something much greater. 

“There’s something about K-pop that makes you feel special when you listen to it,” Mimi told In The Know. 

And it’s clear plenty of other fans feel the same way. K-pop, which refers to a brand of South Korean popular music that began in the ’90s, has become a global phenomenon in recent years. 

The boyband BTS (short for Bangtan Sonyeondan), easily the genre’s most successful group this year, sold out 90,000-seat stadiums during its 2019 world tour and was the year’s 15th most popular artist, according to the Billboard charts. Those facts are even more startling when considering that many fans aren’t sure what the group is singing about. 

“When people find out I listen to K-pop, mostly it’s just, ‘How do you understand what they’re saying when you don’t speak Korean? You just like them for their looks and their dances,'” Nikki, another superfan, told In The Know.

But K-pop fandom goes beyond culture or language. Nikki told In The Know that she actually finds the lyrics of groups like BTS to be heavily relatable. 

“They’re really open about talking about mental health,” she said. “The problems they struggle with are the problems that they want us to find peace with and to love ourselves with.”

BTS superfan Karla said she’s heard many people say they found the Korean boyband at a time when they needed support. She told In The Know that the group “uplifted” her through a tough time in her life. 

“I have so much to look forward to now, and I’m so thankful to them for that,” Karla said.

The fandom isn’t only a personal experience, though. Many K-pop lovers bond and make new friends through their love of the genre, such as the “Bangtan B******,” a group of six women who formed a club dedicated to their BTS obsession.

Members of the group hold karaoke nights, meet for coffee and host birthday parties to celebrate their favorite BTS singers. Mimi said they often make Bangtan B****** events free, allowing new members to join in on the fun. For many, the group has allowed their fandom to create a bond that transcends music.

“I don’t see them as my friends anymore — they’re my sisters,” Bangtan B****** member Dani told In The Know. “Just like BTS started as a group of singers and rappers being put together, and then they became brothers — I feel like that’s how we became.”

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