It was four years ago when I started listening to K-pop music. I have actually been in touch with K-pop since I was around 8 or 9 because my sister always opened K-pop songs at home. Before getting into K-pop, I had a lot of stereotypes about it. However, as a dancer myself, I had a chance to try K-pop cover dance and I took it! In K-pop cover dance, we follow dance routines from the choreographies of K-pop songs accurately.
How I got into the K-pop Culture in Sydney
During my study abroad program at University of Sydney in Australia, I was able to learn about Orbit Dance Crew through the Korean Cultural Appreciation Society (KCAS). Orbit Dance Crew is a K-pop focused dance group which covers various choreographies of popular K-pop songs.
I decided to join Orbit and entered auditions for the team in August. After they accepted me into the group, I started practicing together with them this month. We practice dance together around the ground area at International Convention Center (ICC Sydney). We use the glass wall of the building next door as our mirror for rehearsing the choreographies.
And to my surprise, I found out that there were a bunch of other K-pop focused dance crews like Orbit practicing there too. However, I wasn’t surprised at the minimal male involvement in the K-pop culture.
Male involvement in the K-pop culture
Back in Myanmar, there was also more female involvement and acknowledgement in the K-pop culture. Again, when I went studying abroad in the US, it was the same scenario. There was a K-pop focused dance crew like Orbit in my college, and there I was also the only male. Observing other crews like us in US, I have again noticed that female involvement is dominant.
So, when I came to Sydney, I was no longer surprised to see fewer males. In Orbit, there are only two male dancers including me. Other K-pop dance crews practicing at ICC also have very limited amount of male representatives in them.
How I cope up with being one of the very few males in the K-pop culture of Sydney
For me personally, it is not actually a big concern to see fewer males. Everyone in the K-pop lovers community accepts everybody else regardless of gender identities. They are always willing to meet new people who share the same interest in K-pop. All you need is to be brave enough to express that you like K-pop.
Even though I have indicated how there are not many males involving in the K-pop culture, it does not necessarily mean that less males are interested in K-pop. There may be some guys who either feel embarrassed to express their interest in K-pop; or pressured to avoid K-pop due to the stereotypes, social norms and cultural reasons around them.
People have their own rights and personal choices in their lives, so I would like to encourage those who are not brave enough yet to express their interests. Even I once had thought that it would be very embarrassing for me to let others know I like K-pop, but what changed my mind was the K-pop lovers’ community that I ultimately joined. Thus, I would like to leave a note at the end of this article for those who are discouraged to be open about their love for K-pop: “We are here!”
Phyo Thuta Aung is a Computer Science major with an Applied Math minor at Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster and studied abroad with IFSA Australia program at University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia in Fall 2019. He served as an International Correspondent with IFSA through the Work-to-Study Program.