Coming from a non-fan perspective, K-Pop is a phenomenon that has baffled me endlessly. Personally, I wasn't amazed with the music (too bubblegum pop) or aesthetic of the performers (eyeliners on men really don't do it for me). Chalk it up to a generational gap or difference in preferences. I don't hate it but it certainly wasn't my thing. As such, when I was assigned to cover the fan meeting of Kim Jaejoong in the Araneta Coliseum, I was filled with trepidation. An evening spent amongst shrieking teenagers with an almost fanatical worship of their favorite idols? I can think of several other options that appealed to me.
But, as it would turn out, it became an evening of interesting revelations.
I gained a peek into a world that I was completely unfamiliar with. The fans came in droves, all of them clamoring to catch a glimpse of their beloved idol. Most brought handmade signs bearing messages with Korean characters. Sleepwear seemed to be a recurring theme for OOTNs: scanty lingerie that looked borderline illegal to wear in public, silk robes donned over tank tops and shorts, plush, colorful onsies depicting all manners of creatures, from unicorns and rabbits to the occasional Pokémon characters. Flashing headwear beat out a steady staccato of lights in the darkened space. No matter. Araneta Coliseum had turned into a veritable circus and the throng was eager for their ringmaster.
Jae Joong sauntered onto the stage and the unabashed adoration of the crowd rolled over me, a maelstrom of pure pleasure that is relentless, frenetic, and more than a little frightening in its intensity. His piercing gaze and artfully disheveled hair called to mind an oriental version of Edward Cullen; all that was missing was the sparkles. But, boy, did he sparkle. Or, at least, to the crowd, he did. His legion of fans waited with bated breath, eagerly anticipating every word that tumbled out of his mouth, relying heavily on the interpreter to provide a bridge for the language barrier. Each thing he uttered seemed laden with hidden meaning that resonated with the crowd, eliciting delighted shrieks after every punctuation. His gestures and facial expressions were closely noted, forming a point of reference for numerous opinions and conclusions as to the implications of such.
But, what was the point of it all? I couldn't wrap my mind the unquestionable power this lone boy had over a coliseum filled to the rafters with fans who couldn't seem to get enough of Jae Joong. The energy that filled the place was undoubtedly mesmerizing. Amidst the shrieks and sighs, I realized that, perhaps, these fans have inadvertently stumbled on the secret to lasting happiness. At some point in our adulthood, we have all learn how NOT to truly enjoy life. You see, intensity of any kind clouds our ability to think, rendering us incapable of seeing the bigger picture when we let ourselves sink too deeply into the moment. Self-preservation dictates that we resist these moments of surrender because we are scared of the resolution; we fear that we may never recover from the crash from bliss. Thus, we hold ourselves back from feeling too much. We limit our pleasure, hinder our happiness, thwart our ecstacy. And, in doing so, we hamper our capacity to live our lives to the fullest.
[related: In Focus: 5 Reasons Why Kim Jae Joong Is A Total 'Hero']
The funny thing about pleasure, though, is that it is not derived from fleeting, single experiences. It is a constant presence in our lives; we only need to tap into tiny moments everyday to discover its glory: discovering a cool new series to binge-watch on lazy Sunday afternoons, savoring a hot mug of freshly brewed coffee on a rainy day, enjoying our favorite home-cooked meal, spending the day in the arms of someone you love. Or, in the case of the K-Pop fans that surrounded me, watching Jae Joong sample plates of local bar chow with swigs of beer up on stage.
[related: Hot Stuff: K-Events That Will Fulfill Our Fangirl Dreams In 2018]
I would never truly understand the rationale behind their fascination, never be fond of the genre, but I can respect how these fans have the ability to give themselves so fully to the experience of Jae Joong, and in doing so, become active and willing participants of their own pleasure. My brief foray into the world of K-Pop did not make a convert out of me but I can certainly live vicariously through them. And, perhaps, take a page from their book.
ALSO READ: Hottie Alert: Some Facts Of Life That We Can Cop From Kim Jaejoong To Become A Better You!
Photographs by the author and Instagram.com/love4jj