Inge van Doorn and her mother, Jasmine, wearing their BTS fan shirts.
(Patricia Pitsch/Maison Moderne)
Inge van Doorn and her mother, Jasmina, are two of four students taking a beginners’ Korean course at the multi-Learn Institute in Bonnevoie--an interest sparked by their love of K-pop.
K-pop is the genre of music which originated in South Korea but has exploded on the international scene in recent years. On 13 April, boy band BTS--Inge and Jasmina’s favourite K-pop group--debuted on Saturday Night Live in New York City and, according to Forbes, in two months in 2018 alone, the group had over 36 million mentions on Twitter.
Jasmina was the one who found the Korean class, as she had been curious about the lyrics (although BTS tunes also use some English). “Inge got me into K-pop, but I got her into the Korean lessons.”
Inge’s love for K-pop is, in part, due to her interest in K-dramas, “Descendants of the Sun” being one of her favourites. She showed her mother the series, and her mother was hooked. “As I got into K-dramas, I started listening to the music and found it really interesting,” Inge says. She was drawn to the group Exo, calling their music and choreography “amazing, completely different to American-style music”.
Last year at age 17, Inge attended a BTS show in Amsterdam with some friends--other members of the BTS Army, as their fans are known. Inge raves about the atmosphere: “We do these group chants and have ‘army bombs’ [BTS official light sticks]… the fans and the band really work together.”
For a graduation present, Jasmina treated Inge and herself to VIP tickets for the 2 June show at Wembley Stadium in London, part of the band’s “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” tour. The tickets included access to a three-song sound check and cost £235 each, but Inge confirms “that’s actually cheap”--not because of what BTS is charging, but because of scalpers. “People buy them and resell them for four to five times the price, the highest one sold around £4,000. It’s so unfair. These young kids want to see their idols, and they get ripped off for tickets.”
Jasmina, 51, was just as excited to go to the concert as Inge, saying the BTS appeal isn’t just the music. “It’s the whole package--how they work together, the looks, fashion, music, videos, dancing.”
The mother-daughter duo also praises the group’s evolution. In 2014, BTS offered a free concert for 200 people to promote their music, whereas last year, it only took minutes to sell out at London’s O2 Arena. “A lot of journalists wrote they would never make it big, but that’s one of the parts I love about them… they’ve come a long way, but people tend to forget that,” Inge says.
After graduation, Inge will head to the University for the Creative Arts in Rochester (UK), where she hopes she can eventually do an exchange programme in South Korea. She’s looking forward to exploring its “forward” fashion.
Despite having some friends supportive of her taste of music, Inge says in the past others joked about her love of K-pop. She calls the music “a wake-up call”, adding: “I was a bit unsure of who I was before I listened to K-pop and used to be a bit of an outsider. [BTS] really helped me, and now I’m finally at the stage that I know who I am and am proud of who I am.”