Who are the Kpop fans of Washington, D.C.?
This is the question we sought to answer at a zine workshop in June 2016. For four hours, we invited people to Bul, a Korean restaurant in Adams Morgan, to listen to Kpop music curated by Mia Steinle of Bae Bae D.C. and design a page for this crowdsourced zine.
The results? Homages to Kpop idols, explanations of how people got into Kpop, and cultural commentary. We’ve curated these pages into “BUBBLE POP! A Kpop Fanzine.”
We hope this online zine provides a window into the world of Kpop’s American fans. Read the online zine here.
We were surprised at who came to the event. There was a mom with her 13-year-old daughter and her two teenage friends. There were 20-somethings and 30-somethings. There was the former president of Howard University’s Japanese culture club. And there were a few Korean women who stumbled upon the event and decided to make a page for the heck of it.
We didn’t have many rules before the workshop began. We had a basic template that offered some ideas of what participants should do with their pages: How did you first get into Kpop? Why do you like it? Who’s your favorite Kpop idol? And if you don’t know anything about Kpop, interview the person next to you.
We gave the participants craft supplies: scissors, glue, fun paper and of course — lots of photos of Kpop stars to work with: BTS, Exo, Hyuna, Girls Generation, Got7, Beast, 2PM, you name it.
Then — in between eating, drinking and bonding over their favorite idols — they got to work:
The submissions were far more creative than the ideas we suggested.
Most people created visual expressions of why they liked their idols.
Some people had moments of self-awareness:
But more interestingly was the cultural commentary.
From the exercise, we discovered our answer: Kpop fans in D.C. come from all walks of life. Most people can’t really explain why they like it — but they know it brings color and joy into their lives. That’s all that matters.