Firstly, I’d like to thank whoever has been reading and supporting this blog so far, two weeks from its inception. What started as a brainchild with helpful doses of uninhibited curiosity in the early days of February has now blossomed into perhaps the greatest academic achievement in my life so far.
I never thought I could analyse anything to this depth, nor discover so much about something so mainstream and typecast that wasn’t there before. That isn’t to say that the whole process was easy. It turns out that it takes a lot more than a(n un)healthy curiosity to power research of this magnitude, and even more. It takes time, it takes hunger, and it takes sacrifice. I’ve noticed these last two weeks that I’ve become a different person altogether, someone who speaks with an authority built on humility, someone who is consistently stressed out while craving that very stress at the same time because it meant that I got to delve into a subject that fascinated me.
After two weeks of long nights and bittersweet compromises on scheduling, I’ve realized a few things:
1. The research project can be daunting.
It is not a simple task to research and research thoroughly and articulately. There are many angles, many stories, many sources and opinions that can and must be consulted. Even dissecting a video based on subjective experience is not enough. In my many video dissections I had to either stick with the obvious, or call in a source on the internet to back (or refute) my claims, heavily shaping the schedule of the research in question.
Despite my best efforts to time and plan out my resources, structures and writing beforehand, a lot of my research and investigation was done while writing. A lot of painful backspacing and a lot of sweet, sweet wisdom was uncovered during late night research sessions that could have gone into the sunrise if sense had not prevailed. And yet as a result, I’ve been able to get insight. Daunting as research may be, it is a challenge worth taking up because of the invaluable insight and skills that can be gained and honed during the process. I am now able to interpret news events more efficiently, developing a crucial skepticism that should be applied to all areas of daily life where perspective is involved.
2. Passion can be powerful
I never thought that I would be passionate about anything other than jazz. Even when I first heard “Gee” in 2009 I was convinced that K-Pop was for the inane and for the ignorant masses, yet another cash-grab vehicle pushed out by companies who scientifically analyse the puppet-like mannerisms of its audience. However, by slowly becoming exposed to what really interests me about K-Pop, I am able to understand at least a small part of its appeal. I am able to understand that there is always an endless network of influence, of homage, of artistic theft that is encouraged and weaponized in any great cultural institution, and I am confident that in K-Pop, this can only continue.
I realize mostly that my hunger to uncover these mysteries at least in part was what drove me to and through those late nights, and past the lingering questions of “You can just half-ass this” or “You don’t have to get an A. You’re not even sure if you can get an A.” I realized that doing this project was more than a grade and more than a requirement, it became a passion project, it became something I had to finish for myself, and that has made all the difference.
3. Working at an interest is humbling
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt through this process is how humbling reading others’ work and “synthesizing” it into your own can be. There are so many brilliant people who have poured their soul in greater and more articulate ways to the things they are similarly passionate about that I have tried to represent here. Never again will I take an academic’s work, or even a general opinion, for granted, because all of that had to come from somewhere, and all of it came from someone who spent a few hours watching this and thinking a long time about whether it would fit anywhere that would make sense.
It really puts into perspective why anyone would be able to endure years of endless research in pursuit of a hopelessly specific yet groundbreaking piece of knowledge, because it is the amalgamation of these pieces of knowledge that make up the body of knowledge that the world can benefit from. I think today’s consumers can benefit from a deeper knowledge of K-Pop and its roots because it allows us to better understand what we look for and therefore help better shape the experiences we can have and enjoy, at least from a cultural standpoint.
There is so much I could have, should have, and wanted to get to, but with inconsistent scheduling and real life obstacles that logistically prevented my ideal entry-per-day model, that I believe this project has only scratched the surface of surfaces. If anything I think this blog stands for the the depths to which one can delve into any institution and discover that there are so many roots and influences at work that create something rich, artistic and powerfully popular.
I hope there are others who are with me and after me that will continue this pursuit.