The Paris Review

The Poetic Consequences of K-Pop

Official poster for BTS album “Love Yourself Answer”

Once, as a preface to reading my poem “Bell Theory,” I jokingly told the audience that I had been teased for my English when I was younger, when it wasn’t trendy to be Korean, or rather, before the boy band BTS made Korean cool. A few people chuckled and smiled out of either discomfort or kindness, and I found myself wanting to cry as I read the poem about my clumsy English, colonized Koreans’ Japanese, and the cruel consequences of failures of tongue. I had never gotten emotional during my own reading before. I tried to control the quiver in my voice and fingers. If anyone noticed, they didn’t say anything, out of either discomfort or kindness.

I moved to Victoria, BC, Canada from Busan, Korea when I was just a few months shy of eleven years old. I knew only how to say, “I’m fine, thank you, and you?” when someone asked how I was doing. My older sister and my mother, who had quit her job to come with us, knew only that same phrase. There’s a

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