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K-Pop

Question:

In Judaism, is it okay to listen to K-Pop? It’s popular music about a range of topics, but it’s different from American pop in that it is composed of mostly only boy/only girl bands, the singers are called “Idols”, the fandom of each group has a name and colored light stick, and most of the content is reality-TV such as behind-the-scenes of the music videos, vlogs of the artists’ daily lives, and Livestreams where the artists talk directly to fans. The reason why I ask is that while secular people have different reactions – some avoid it because they’re ambivalent/think it’s weird/have interests, while others love it and have a deep attachment to an artist and their identity as a K-Pop fan. Meanwhile, some non-Jewish religious people find K-Pop concerning since it is addicting, is almost religious in the devotion fans have to artists, the artists are called “Idols”, some of the themes in the songs are about changing the status quo or following your own heart and ideas, and there is questionable imagery of the devil/going to hell/sinning across many groups. Some of these non-Jewish religious people even claim that K-Pop is designed to send children to hell and has spell work that makes them addicted.

Should these claims be taken seriously – are they nonsense, or are they true? Is K-Pop okay to watch, permitted that it’s just entertainment?

A reality I also see is that most American K-Pop fans, including myself, are teenagers who were bullied at school and found a safe space within K-Pop videos. In my high school, K-Pop fans were secular Jewish girls, Chinese-American students, and girls who did not fit into gender expectations. K-Pop is the only place where I have the illusion of being accepted and respected by my age group for who and how I am. How can I have this fundamental human need of belonging in a more wholesome way, in the physical world? I think the typical Rabbinical answer is “Go to a Synagogue”, but most of the women there are middle-aged or mothers, and I’m only 19 year-old, incoming college student.

 

Answer:

Hello,

From your detailed and well explained question, it is evident that you are a smart and intellectually honest person. You explained the pros and cons of listening and getting involved in this type of music very well. Basically, your answer is already included in your question. If it is addicting and causes you to be almost religiously devoted to an “Idol”, although you are not figuratively bowing down to her, but it seems to be far from the place that you really want to be. Coupled with the fact that the content that they sign about, can put all sorts of ideas into your head that will be hard for you to get rid of.

On the other hand, again as you so clearly stated, the type of people that tend to gravitate to this type of music-addiction, are people who are missing a feeling of association, and a feeling of belonging, being accepted and respected. These needs are real, and it is difficult for a person be without them.  What you need is to build your inner self, give yourself a sense of purpose, and a goal in life that will be fulfilling to your inner self. Additionally, you need friends and a sense of belonging with people that will have a positive effect on you. If you let me know where you are located, I will try to put you in contact with a group of people who can serve your needs, which will help you out.

Best wishes

 

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