As K-Pop has soared towards the international stage, its portrayal in the media still tends to be one-sided or different from how fans feel about their favourite idol groups.
One of Australia’s leading news programs, SBS World News however, has taken the chance to shine light on one of the reasons why K-Pop is so popular.
The news program highlighted that K-Pop idols have helped young Australian fans in combating mental stress.
Clinical psychology, Dr. Christopher Hunt stated that one of the ways K-Pop has had an impact is in the fundamental shift in the perception of masculinity in Australia and the world.
He notes that the popularity of K-Pop has helped loosen gender expectations, particularly on men, and has influenced a more accepting environment. "Young men, in particular, are really responsive to signs they get from other men, particularly high-profile men"
While he discussed that there were still some issues in the industry including the recent sex scandals, he praised the recent activities of K-Pop groups in furthering this conversation about mental health. "So it’s good that some of the more recent K-Pop bands that have come up have really tried to adjust this and are trying to push for something different and better"
One of the recent K-Pop bands that was referenced was ATEEZ, the rookie boy group that is experiencing international success, only months since debut.
The news show went to talk with ATEEZ fans who had queued up for ATEEZ’s first ever Australian concert.
The topic about mental health came up, where fans discussed how grateful they were for ATEEZ for sending a positive message of self-acceptance and unity.
One male fan, Amir Hashemipour, revealed that becoming an ATINY had helped him through difficult times, and praised ATEEZ for addressing mental health, especially as men. "Something that doesn’t get talked about very often in the media, especially with males."
Another fan acknowledged how she liked that ATEEZ was constantly letting fans know how they were feeling, whether it was during their highs and lows.
With the popularity of live broadcasts and fan interactions, many K-Pop fans have enjoyed felt getting know their idols has also helped them become more comfortable with themselves and their feelings.
The message of acceptance was loud and clear at the concert, when member Seonghwa asked fans to check up on each other, with many cheering his words.
"Our message is that if someone inspires you to overcome defeat in moments when you feel like giving up, then that is a good influence for us" - ATEEZ Seonghwa
For some, K-Pop may seem like just a music genre.
But for many K-Pop fans, it is the humanity, that shines beyond the language barrier, and helps each person know that they are not alone.
such a positive message