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Friday, April 19, 2024

K-pop creates strong connections between UC Davis students

The musical genre is a popular subculture on campus


By LYNN CHEN — features@theaggie.org


At UC Davis, you might have occasionally heard K-pop songs playing at the dining commons, Latitude or in the markets. In fact, K-pop is quite a staple of music playlists here on campus.

As part of 2023’s “Spotify Wrapped,” the music streaming service matched each user to a “Sound Town” to show them which city in the world has listeners with similar habits to them.

An unusual number of K-pop fans unanimously discovered that Davis was their music city avatar, according to social media reactions on platforms such as Reddit and X. For instance, a comment exclaiming with full capitalization, “WHO THE HELL IS DAVIS FROM USA,” received almost 60,000 likes on X.

On campus, students’ love for the musical genre is manifested in the many clubs and organizations dedicated to K-pop dancing, an iconic component of the subculture. For example, dance teams such as EKHO and SoNE1 are active throughout the school year.

Additionally, many of the bonds students make throughout their school career can be attributed to the shared affinity to the genre.

“The [K-pop] scene is fairly open [at UC Davis],” Martin Carrillo-Alvarez, a third-year animal science major and dance member of SoNE1, said. “A lot of people tend to openly showcase that they like K-pop. [The community] is fairly welcoming.”

For example, student fans may keep photocards of their favorite artists in cardholders on their phones and quickly bond with others over shared interests.

“I’ve had an instance where I carried a photocard of my two favorite members from the group Zerobaseone and people came up to me saying ‘Yo, who’s that on your cardholder?’” Carrillo-Alvarez said.

“I got their Instagram and ended up making friends [with them],” he stated. “It was out of nowhere.”

He continued on to describe the many facets of the genre and the positive impact it can have on the community of listeners.

“K-pop can be a musical thing, it can be a cultural thing. But I feel like it’s more of a personal or societal thing,” Carrillo-Alvarez added. “People [interested in the genre] themselves are very open and comforting. I feel like [the subculture space] brings together non-Kpop fans and K-pop fans too.” 

Citing his own experiences as an example, Carrillo-Alvarez said that as a member of SoNE1, he has seen how his performances act as a medium that connects him to his non-fan friends and others as well. The joyous atmosphere of each public dance brings everyone closer.

Christina Chung, a second-year managerial economics major, also agrees that K-pop is an efficient way to connect with strangers.

“A friend of mine told me how in her orientation group, her orientation leader really connected with everyone because of [the group’s] shared love for K-pop,” Chung stated. “I do think [K-pop] is a huge thing [on campus].”

Alisa Zhu, a first-year mathematics major, said many of her friends who are not into K-pop have heard songs of the genre here and there.

“A lot of [K-pop] songs are trendy on TikTok,” Zhu said. She explained that as the reason why non-fans are still likely somewhat familiar with the genre.

As such, some songs that people might have heard of on TikTok include “Cupid” by FIFTY FIFTY, “Super Shy” by NewJeans and “DARARI” by TREASURE.

Many have probably been exposed to K-pop in one way or another before, whether they like it or not. This is especially true for those who remember the era when “Gangnam Style” blew up in the 2010s.

For some, the musical genre is just fleeting background music, but to others, it represents a comforting space and a way to connect with others.


Written by: Lynn Chen — features@theaggie.org


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