K-pop has been blowing up all over the world. Bands like Stray Kids and BTS have ridden a cultural moment called the Korean wave into international prominence. Fans across the globe enjoy the genre’s slick beats and the personalities of its stars.
Interestingly, many fans of K-pop do not actually speak Korean. Two members of Stray Kids — Bang Chan and Han — have discussed how they feel about this. They both had some insight into K-pop and other music.
Bang Chan and Han on K-pop fans who don’t speak Korean
Tamar Herman of Billboard asked Bang Chan what he thought about his fans who do not speak Korean. Chan found it funny how K-pop fans could enjoy his band’s music without understanding its lyrics. At the same time, he could relate. Chan said he listens to Indian and Spanish music without understanding the lyrics. He said he enjoys Indian and Spanish music because of its sound and the vocal performances.
He elaborated “That kind of makes me want to find out what the lyrics actually mean, and what the singer really wants to say through the song. I do understand that there may be [fans] that may just listen to our songs but not understand the lyrics, and I completely understand how that feels as well. So just want to put that out there. [Laughs]”
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Han made some comments on the matter which echoed Chan’s. ”People may not understand the message completely but, while there’s strength obviously in lyrics there is also strength in the melody and just the song in general as well. We do think about that as we perform and sing these songs because there are different ways you can gain strength through music, the lyrics are just one element.”
Stray Kids’ interesting relationship to the Korean language
Billboard reports the band has released some music in English. It only makes sense that they would dos so, as they have a significant English-speaking audience. Earlier this year, the band released English versions of their songs “Double Knot” and “Levanter” from their album Clé : LEVANTER. Some English-speaking fans of Stray Kids appreciated the gesture while others prefer to listen to the original versions of the songs.
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Interestingly, one can draw parallels between the experiences of fans who are exposed to Korean culture through K-pop and the life experience of Stray Kids member Felix. According to Seven News, Korean was not his first language. He was from Sydney, Australia and he did not move to Korea until he was 17-years-old. He said it was an adventure for him to learn the Korean language and other aspects of Korean culture. For many K-pop fans, learning about Korean culture is an adventure as well.
Also see: The Real Reason Why Woojin Left K-Pop Band Stray Kids
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