K-Pop Blooms a Thousand Stories

Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from.

It was my turn to speak.

The Korean girl across the table and I had spent the past hour in a back-and-forth of stilted conversation. Our pre-collegiate institute had demanded that all disciplines “mingle,” and the silence told a story of two strangers--both in residence, one international and one domestic, one whose first language was not English and one whose was.

One of us would ask a question, the other would answer, and then it’d switch. From what I’d gained of our conversation so far, she was from a school in Seoul, she liked studying, and her concentration was in math. Mine was in writing. I’d tried talking about what I expected everyone at an academic institute to talk about: the commercialization of education, the increasing reliance of society on technology, destroying the patriarchy, but all those had proved to be unsuccessful. She’d tilt her head, which I’d come to understand meant that I either had to 1) repeat the question, or 2) forget it altogether.

There was a last resort. I’d been hesitant to use it, but it looked like I’d have no other choice.

“Do you know BTS?” I ventured.

At the mention of the South Korean boy band, her eyes lit up. “Yes. Yes! Who’s your bias?” The use of K-Pop jargon convinced me: we...

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