While the glaring pink-ness of the cover caught my eye, it was the subject that made me buy the book. Popped by Chinggay Labrador is all about a girl's foray into the wonderful world of K-Pop - something that is very near and dear to my heart.
The story starts with a heartbreak - a former flame is getting married and with a feeling that she's getting stuck in a rut romance and career-wise, Andie is encouraged by her friend Trixie to indulge in her "secret shame" - sappy, melodramatic Korean dramas. Andie reluctantly agrees to watch her friend's dvds and it wasn't long before she also became obsessed with watching the dramas. She also finds comrades in her addiction and they have these K-drama nights where they binge on Korean food and bond over a cup of soju.
Following the usual trajectory of becoming a fan, they level-upped and became fans of Movement - a famous Korean pop group. What follows is an unbelievable journey that encompasses three countries - Philippines, Japan, and Korea - and a slew of K-drama-worthy kilig moments.
K-Pop lovers, especially us who are in the quarter-life can really relate to this story. Yes, there is some shame in indulging in K-Pop. We feel like we're too old for this thing and that our time already ended when the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync started getting married or something. But K-Pop is just so irresistible and, despite what snobs may say, the genre actually produces good and even brilliant music. The characters, being in their mid-twenties, laugh and sneer at the obsessed teenage fans which I thought was a little mean and like the pot calling the kettle black. We all go through this phase (which we can all cringe about later in life) and they, too, did some crazy things for the fandom like actually fly to Japan and Korea and try to stalk their idols. They're in the same boat, it's just that they have a credit card.
While some readers may find it easy to get lost in the story, I actually had to stop and shake my head at the characterization of Movement. I can't remember if the author described them that well, but damn! these guys are BIGBANG. No question about it. That is the reason why whenever one of the Movement guys appeared, a picture of one of the Bigbang members came to mind. I wonder if I wasn't a fan that I would form the same picture. Anyway, it probably helped.
Another nagging thought that I had while I was reading was that the whole story read like a Mary Sue fan fiction. Yes, the characters weren't perfect in the perfect sense of the word (although - spoiler! one of them catches the eye of a member of Movement and is scouted to the YG... I mean West Entertainment to become one of their models), it felt like a self-insert story that are aplenty at Asianfanfics. The whole story was even told in first-person POV! Those kind of stories are not exactly my cup of tea (or soju) so this probably lessened my enjoyment of the book.
But if you can overlook these and suspend your disbelief for 199 pages (and a repeat misprint on page 154), you're going to enjoy the story, get a few "kiligs" in, or, at the very least, be comforted that you aren't alone in this wonderful and crazy K-pop fandom.
Published by Summit Books