Written By Lee Soo Yi, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese
In 2007, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of K-Pop and it changed my life—I was in my third year in high school then. I bought into everything about K-Pop: the dashing good looks of the stars, their trendy dress sense, amazing vocals, and smooth dance moves. Just like that, I became a K-Pop fan.
I was obsessed with the hip-hop boyband, Big Bang. Besides spending a lot of money on their albums, merchandise, and concerts, I could go on and on with my friends on how good-looking they were. In university, I even spent almost 7000 NT (which is equivalent to approximately 216 USD) to watch their performance. I still remember that night vividly: the mood was exuberant, spirits were exceptionally high and everyone was singing and screaming to their hearts’ content. It was as though we didn’t have a care in the world. From that point onwards, I fell deeper and deeper into my obsession with K-Pop, or Big Bang, in specific.
I could not go on for a day without checking my phone for updates on Big Bang. I was constantly listening to their songs and regularly surfing their fan forums for the latest details about their lives. I was even called the “K-Pop Encyclopedia” because I knew every nitty gritty detail about K-Pop. And that went on till my second year in university, when I made a commitment to re-dedicate my life to God.
Initially, I was extremely passionate about my faith. I cut down my contact with anything pertaining to K-Pop because I wanted to focus wholeheartedly on the person of Christ. But it didn’t last long. Gradually, my zeal started to subside and before I knew it, K-Pop took over my life again.
But this time, I struggled. In a bid to reconcile my faith with my interest, I decided to approach my church leaders with this question, “Can Christians be K-Pop fans?” They explained to me that it was fine to appreciate the beauty of Korean culture. However, we must be careful not to blindly idolize the Korean superstars such that they replace God’s place in my heart. While their statements made sense, I had no idea what it meant in the practical sense. To what extent then could I admire them? Could I still buy their albums, attend their concerts or fan meets? If their lives and actions were contrary to God’s Word, could I still like their songs?
So I continued to struggle whenever it involved a choice between God and Big Bang, such as, whether to attend church or their concert if it was held on a Sunday. I also found myself struggling to set aside time to read God’s Word and pray when what I really wanted to do was to watch their latest music video.
Deep down, I knew that Big Bang had slowly replaced God’s place in my heart and this could not carry on for any longer. While I knew what the right thing to do was, I struggled immensely. It was during this time that I decided to take these actions:
1. Pray to God.
I was trapped by my addiction to K-Pop and try as I might, I was unable to control myself and I did not know how to get out of it. That’s when I decided to turn to God in prayer and entrust all my concerns and struggles to Him. I asked Him to free me from my addiction to K-Pop and help me find true satisfaction in Him. I also prayed for wisdom to discern what I should and should not do as a K-Pop fan.
2. Acknowledge that K-Pop stars are just like each one of us.
It is alright for Christians to have hobbies, likes and dislikes. We tend to admire, like or notice those who are better than us or who are exceptionally talented. But the Bible tells us in Genesis 1:26-27 that God created man in His image—this applies to K-Pop stars too. They are created in God’s image and like us, are normal human beings (the sole difference being that they are public figures) and have failings. Once I acknowledged this truth, I was able to view them with the right perspective and not overly exalt them. It is not right to elevate any person or object to the status of God, unwittingly or not. As Exodus 20:3 tells us, God alone is worthy of the highest place in our hearts. He is the only one worthy of our wholehearted devotion and the only One who can satisfy our hearts like no other.
3. Make my interest count for God.
Initially, I tried to go cold turkey on everything that had the slightest association to K-Pop. I treated it as though it were a heinous sin. However, doing so only brought me great anguish and despair. One day, I had a sudden thought to pray to God and ask Him to give me wisdom to use this interest in a way that could serve Him. The thing is, I’m not exactly a relational person, much less one who would approach a stranger to share the gospel with him or her. But I was tasked by my church leaders to be involved in youth work and that required me to go out of my comfort zone. Initially, I had no idea how to start. But when I realized that a lot of young people like K-Pop, this interest of mine turned out to be a great conversation starter and bridge for me to establish rapport, and eventually share the gospel with them. This led me to the important realization that anything can be used for God’s work—even K-Pop. But here’s a caveat: I’m not saying that everything about K-Pop is permissible in light of the gospel. We still need to bear in mind 1 Corinthians 10:23 which says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” It was only when I depended on God that I was finally able to see my K-Pop interest from God’s perspective.
4. Deliberately set aside time to spend with God.
Aside from asking for God’s help to curb our obsession, we can take other practical steps to guard our hearts. One way is to limit the usage of our mobile devices and instead, to spend time outdoors to admire His creation, reflect on His Word and on our lives. Let’s heed the call from James 4:8, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” I came to realize that drawing near to God brings unparalleled joy and peace to my heart, which I will never experience—no matter how many concerts I attend. It is only when we grow in intimacy with God that we will learn to be less anxious and less tempted by the things of the world.
5. Pray for your favorite K-Pop star.
Like I mentioned earlier, K-Pop stars are humans too. They are weak and they need God as much as we do. So let’s pray earnestly and fervently for them that they too would come to know our great God so that they can be a light shining for Him. In the earlier days, I remember being very encouraged by Big Bang’s member, Tae Yang, who would publicly profess his Christian faith at his shows. And I’m sure I was not the only fan to feel that way. In light of this, let’s pray for the stars we like, that they would come to know God, reflect His beauty and goodness in and through their lives so that others would see and come to know God personally.
I’m thankful to God for knowing my difficulties and struggles and for drawing me out of my obsession to K-Pop. While I’m still very much a fan of K-Pop, especially Big Bang, I no longer obsess over them like I used to or feel uneasy if I don’t watch their music videos every day. Instead, what causes me uneasiness is when I don’t read God’s Word or spend time with Him.
Deep down, I know for a fact that God alone is the Lord of my life and nothing can take His place.