What KPOP Means to Me, A Korean-American

What KPOP Means to Me, A Korean-American

I became a KPOP fan in May of 2016, and I haven't looked back since.

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My first exposure to KPOP was when I was six and in a dermatology clinic in Seoul, South Korea. I was there to visit family, and on that particular day, my sister was getting her skin treated. On the TV in the spotless clinic was Big Bang in metallic clothing and neon-colored hair. Being six and more American than Korean, I was not only confused but also disgusted.

Who were these people? Why were they dressed like that? Why did they look like girls?

Yes, I was thoroughly anti-KPOP for my formative years. Not only that, but in simple terms, I thought KPOP was "stupid" without ever giving it a proper chance. In a sense, I was a banana.

I encountered KPOP several times after that experience in the clinic. Whenever my family and I would go to KBBQ, KPOP would be jamming in the background. My mother even showed me the MV to Wonder Girls "Nobody" when I was in middle school. Yet, I still refused to acknowledge KPOP, and I judged anybody who liked a song of it.

Until May 2016.

My sister's boyfriend was part of a KPOP dance troupe at his college. My mom showed me a video of them covering EXO's Call Me Baby. I got obsessed. The song, the dance, the fashion, the boys, everything. I showed my dad the video and even he gave a nod of appreciation. That got me even more excited.

Thus commenced the new couple of months listening to EXO and only EXO. From listening to songs like Call Me Baby to Growl (my personal favorite) to experiencing my first "comeback" with Monster and Lucky One, I was a full EXO-L.

Slowly but surely, I sank deeper and deeper into the KPOP fandom. I discovered GOT7, BTS, Twice, Blackpink, Winner, AOA, Sistar, f(x), Seventeen, SHINee, Super Junior, and more. From KPOP, I discovered Korean R&B;, Rap, and Hip Hop artists, such as Jay Park, Loco, Dean, Crush, Zico, and etc. From Korean music came Chinese music and Japanese music, and suddenly, I realized that I was part of two worlds: American and East Asian.

Growing up in a majority WASP community, I was more "white American" than I was "Korean-American." Sure, I was fluent in Korean and ate Korean food daily; and sure, I was never bullied or teased about my being Asian and Korean, but when I got into high school, a place that was not only racially diverse but also religiously diverse, I was shocked to find out that there was a part of me even back then that wanted to never truly belonged.

Through KPOP, I became more and more interested in my parents' culture. Through KPOP, I became more invested in East Asian affairs, representation in American media, and fostering deeper relationships with my family residing in Seoul. For the first time ever, through KPOP, I felt ashamed to have been so dismissive before towards my second culture, and suddenly, I felt overwhelmed to reconnect.

Among my friends and family, I'm known as a KPOP fanatic, and in the beginnings, I wasn't so keen. People - including me - can be so racist towards something they don't know, and with my partiality for KPOP, I was afraid that I would be seen as "too Asian" or "weird". Now, I don't care at all. I love KPOP because not only has it provided me with amazing music, but it also helped me realize that I can be both American and Korean.

While I still listen to Western music, I also have found a place within East Asian music, whether that be Korean, Chinese, or Japanese. Some people may scrunch their noses in confusion at that: East Asian music? Ew - why listen to East Asian music? My answer: because it's good, and I suggest that you - whoever you are - give it a try because it may change your life just like how it did mine.

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People Are Going "M.A.D." For This Innovative Art Bar Experience In Orlando

And you will be, too!

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M.A.D as in, Music, Art, Drinks, of course.

Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, this new art bar experience in Hunter's Creek is the COOLEST THING EVER. M.A.D is an evening of guided painting, top-of-the-line drinks, and great music. And gosh, I had the best time.

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So M.A.D is basically an adult painting class, but in the most relaxed environment, I've ever experienced. You basically come in, sit down at a paint station, and a local artist instructs you through an original painting, all while enjoying drinks and music!

The event is only $25 for your canvas, the supplies and paint you use, and the drinks you sample. I went for their Valentines-themed event, "M.A.D Love," where they were offering glasses of Scavi & Ray, the number-one prosecco in the world, apparently, alongside a rosé, Moscato and other romantically-themed wines that you could enjoy while you painted. I felt so elegant and also, bouji af.

But this particular M.A.D event was hosted at the Tavern in Hunter's Creek, so there was also a full bar available with all of the Tavern's regular craft and specialty drinks. Plus a food truck. And you absolutely cannot go wrong with a food truck.

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The artist leading the class was a local abstract artist and art instructor, Michelle Melendez who was so incredibly encouraging and fun throughout the whole night. She was so sweet with helping each person through each step while staying incredibly motivating and reminding the class that "art is art," and "everybody's won't look the same, but that's the best part!" She's the kind of cool girl that I'd want to be friends with but was never cool enough to actually be friends with.

Plus this girl was magic, actual magic. If anyone messed up, she'd come over with paper towels and her fingers-- yes, her fingers!-- and somehow fix the whole mess. Dude beside me accidentally smudged his yellow sunset with navy blue paint, Michelle came over and used her already paint-covered hands and fixed the whole thing. Sorcery.

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Throwback music played throughout the night while we painted and live music followed. The event seemed to be mostly attended by regulars, so the environment was warm and friendly and SO relaxed. The idea of going to a painting-class-type-thing was alluring, but I was pleasantly surprised by the laid back atmosphere that made the whole event comforting and genuinely fun. The event lasted almost three hours too, so there was plenty of time to paint without feeling rushed. And in the end, I actually liked my final product!

Showing my boyfriend my finished masterpiece.

So if you're feeling a little "M.A.D," you should definitely book yourself a spot for the next painting sesh here. Invite your friends! Let's all pretend we know how to paint while secretly only being there for the drinks.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in history will impact every American.

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In the early morning hours of December 22, the longest government shutdown in United States history began. At this writing, the government has been shut down for 24 days -- and counting.

The current shutdown revolves around President Trump's request for over five billion dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which he sees as a necessary response to the "massive Humanitarian Crisis" taking place at the southern border -- the flow of migrants from Central America. Democrats in Congress, who fervently deny the severity of the situation, refuse to allocate funds towards a wall, instead looking to negotiate other measures for border security. Unable to pass bipartisan spending legislation, the government remains closed.But what exactly is a shutdown, and what does it mean for ordinary Americans?

A government shutdown occurs when the annual appropriations bills that fund several government agencies and programs fail to reach passage by both Congress and the president. Congress is in charge of creating these bills, and each year the president must sign them into law in order to fund the government for a new fiscal period. In October, at the beginning of the current fiscal year, only a few of the necessary appropriations bills were enacted, and Congress had until December 21 to enact the rest. However, due to congressional infighting and the President's incessant demands for a wall, the government failed to reach a spending agreement by the deadline, and a shutdown ensued.

Without appropriated funds, any departments or agencies deemed "non-essential" are put on hold under a government shutdown. This means that many federal workers, including those within the Food and Drug Administration and National Park Service, are furloughed, or put on temporary leave without pay. The remaining employees, who work in departments or agencies considered "essential," are forced to work without pay until appropriations are made by Congress and the President. Once the government is open again, they will receive their missed checks in back pay.

Put simply, the 800,000 Americans who work for departments affected by the shutdown have been without a paycheck for almost an entire month now. In past weeks, several of these workers have taken to Washington to protest the shutdown and have appeared on television to voice their frustrations. Forced to deplete their savings to make ends meet, they worry about how they'll make their next mortgage payment and keep their families fed. Paying for daycare services for infants, or college tuition for young adults, has become almost impossible for some.

And government employees aren't the only Americans affected by the shutdown. Though social security checks are sent out and Medicare is paid for, the issuance of insurance cards could cease, meaning that those newly eligible for Medicare could be turned away. Hundreds of sites with hazardous waste or polluted drinking water will go uninspected by the EPA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, responsible for feeding thousands of impoverished families, cannot last another two months without funding.

Perhaps the scariest effect of the shutdown is its impact on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for screening passengers at airports. Since the shutdown began, airports across the country have dealt with a shortage of staff, causing long lines and massive travel delays. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas and Miami International Airport in Florida have both been forced to close entire terminals in response to a staffing shortage. On January 14, TSA spokesman Michael Biello tweeted that TSA "experienced a national rate of 7.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.2 percent rate one year ago, Monday, January 15, 2018." Although the agency claims that security has not been compromised during the shutdown, the lack of workers leaves many travellers skeptical.

As President Trump continues to exploit the "crisis" at the border (see the televised address) and top Democrats defend the merits of legal immigration, it is unclear just how long the shutdown will continue. In the House, Democrats have passed spending bills supporting the immediate re-opening of affected federal departments, but such bills have not yet been brought to the Republican-controlled Senate. There have been no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional staff, and Trump has abandoned his idea of declaring a national emergency. It seems the only thing left to do is wait.

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