For many years now, I have been a huge fan of Hallyu. Also known as the Korean Wave, it is the expansion of Korea’s reach outside of South Korea through faucets of Korean culture. Primarily, said reach is expanding mostly through Korean entertainment or K-entertainment in the form of music collectively known as K-pop, drama television shows collectively known as K-dramas, and reality television shows known as K-variety shows.
Needless to say but I fell for the “Hallyu trap” walking that razor’s edge back in 2007 but getting caught via K-pop in 2009 thanks to Girls’ Generation and their breakout song “Gee.” The same story can be said for K-dramas but instead I was instantly caught in the trap with watching Coffee Prince. These pivotal moments in my fandom also sparked my “Hallyu star love affairs” for Sunny and Yoon Eun Hye, but that is another story.
Anyways, my fandom in Hallyu has become a blessing as I am able to write about K-pop and K-dramas to millions of people around the world, keeping them up to date with the latest news pertaining to them. I have also built many professional relationships through my endeavors mostly being both a fan and a journalist for it. In some ways, my writing produces “Hallyu money sent to support my Bias.” For example, I recently dropped $200 on K-pop albums, some old that I never got the chance to buy initially (mostly Girls’ Generation albums like Run Devil Run and I Got A Boy and Crush by 2NE1) and some newer ones (WINGS by BTS, LOTTO by EXO, TWICEcoaster: LANE 1 by Twice).
I will also stress that my love for Hallyu extends far more to just writing. I subtitle and segment at Viki, a video-on-demand streaming site known for their Asian dramas. I moderate numerous Hallyu fan clubs specifically those for Girls’ Generation and K-dramas. Finally, I love to paint Hallyu idols. You heard that right! I paint portraits of Hallyu idols and often become friends, support, and/or network with other fellow artists who are Hallyu fans like Mim Kay and Drawholic.
The aforementioned is to establish that I truly love Hallyu as well as Asian entertainment in general. Ergo, my knowledge at times is utilized in favor for other Hallyu fans who want to make it a part of their profession. A couple of years ago, I helped a friend in the Philippines out in creating a weekly printed paper or email containing Hallyu news. Given my knowledge on how the Philippines is (because I’ve been there multiple times because my family is from there), I thought it was a smart endeavor. For most people, internet is too expensive to own thus their use is limited to cafes. Not only that, internet service in the Philippines can be bad especially data programs on phones (which may or may not be smartphones). So subscribing to a weekly email or possibly getting an actual paper worked especially for those living in Philippine provinces.
My assigned task was to assist in the hiring process which I thought would not be hard. All my friend asked was to make sure they truly love Hallyu. I was very surprised to experience that many of the writers who applied did not know basics about whatever K-pop act or K-drama they claimed they were fans of. For example, one would say they like BTS and have been fans since they debuted. I would follow up by asking when did they debut, and they wouldn’t know (it is 2013 by the way). Simple questions that A.R.M.Y. would know like the names of the members, who the maknae is, stuff like that.
This revelation was followed up by the increasing complaints from the K-pop and K-drama fan sites I moderate at how certain news sites writing on Hallyu either have writers writing articles loaded with incorrect information or are pushing gossip rags of Hallyu stars.
Within a year and a half I decided to exclusively write on Hallyu, it became a “swamp.” Now after some analysis, I have come up with a way that fans of K-pop, K-dramas, or anything Hallyu related can read legit Hallyu news written by good Hallyu journalists.
#1 — News Sites That Report Only On Hallyu Will Most Likely Consist Of Journalists/Writers Who Know What They Are Writing About!
There are certain websites out there that are authorities when it comes to reporting on K-pop and K-dramas. Soompi is probably the oldest and most prominent of the English-speaking news sites simply because they are headquartered in South Korea and get their sources straight from Nate, Naver, Sports Donga, and press releases. Others like AllKpop, the DramaFever News Section, KpopStarz, KDramaStars, and the like are the same too as they are exclusive on certain faucets of Hallyu.
The thing with these Hallyu news sites is that they consist of journalist and writers who you know are fans of Hallyu because that is all they are reporting on there. Not to mention, they will be put through the ringer in knowing what they write because they are reaching out to an audience specifically for K-pop, K-dramas, or the like. I guarantee you that none of these websites will tolerate any journalist or writer who doesn’t know what they are writing about.
Pertaining to a journalistic standard, the journalists may not exactly be up to par. Because such sites already have an established fan base and demographic, things like optimizing images and the article may not be of much importance. However, there are exception usually in the form of writers or journalists who do exclusives. I personally have read some of the best exclusives at Soompi especially a wonderful one on why co-ed groups in K-pop have a troublesome time surviving. This piece was written by Brooke Nicole and I sourced her specifically for my article on K.A.R.D. making their debut.
#2 — For News Sites That Are Not Exclusive With Hallyu, Readers Should Research The Journalists/Writers To See If They Know What They Are Writing About!
Though the aforementioned news sites above are considered authorities, there are numerous articles on other news sites that aren’t exclusive to Hallyu that are good. The problem with them is that since they aren’t exclusive to Hallyu, a lot of problems gets past the editing phase. I am not faulting the editors of these news sites as they are editing articles from a wide array of topics. I am also not faulting the news sites themselves as they are giving freedom to the journalists or writers to write on whatever they want.
However, when journalists or writers write on a subject simply because “they can milk it for profit with little accountability,” there is a problem there. So how do Hallyu fans spot good journalists and writers from the ones who are not: research the journalist or writers.
I guarantee you that the good Hallyu writers at such news sites are easy to find online because they are most likely fans of K-pop and K-dramas. You’ll see them in fan circles, promoting themselves as Hallyu journalists directly to the Hallyu community. They are putting their name out there, exposing themselves to both praise and criticism. A bad writer who is using Hallyu will not have such connections because they will not want to deal with communicating with the Hallyu community. If they did, they would be quickly exposed for the frauds that they are.
Also, these bad Hallyu writers have a thing for sticking to and abusing the popular trends. If 90 percent of their writing is on the currently trending K-pop acts (EXO, BTS, Twice), currently trending K-dramas (there are none right now but last season Hwarang and Goblin were abused), or currently trending Hallyu news in general and they also have the aforementioned detail of no social reach pertaining to Hallyu, you should ignore everything they write. They’re the ones making Hallyu media a swamp.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are phenomenal journalists and writers who at times cover Hallyu and are not fans of it. You can tell who they are as their articles range in subject. Also, they will most likely be easy to find via social media. Though they are not trying to promote themselves as Hallyu writers or journalists, they are trying to promote themselves as good writers or journalists able to write on a wide array of topics.
To all my fellow fans in K-pop, K-dramas, K-variety shows, or whatever it is in Hallyu you admire, I hope this analysis will help you figure out which Hallyu journalists and writers are worth reading and which ones should not. Once again, do not attack the news sites themselves because they are simply a platform. If we are able to weed out those who are guilty of abusing what we love, we may see soon the Hallyu media swamp being drained.
[Featured Image of Respective Entertainment Labels]