Christianity, Kpop and Me
June 9, 2011 § 11 Comments
Being a wealthy democracy of the modern world, South Korean citizens have the right to choose their own religious belief, and of course, choose to have none at all if preferred. Half of the South Korean population consider themselves practising a religion, and dominating since the late 1900s is christianity with more then 8.5 million Prostestants and atleast 5,1 million Catholics. In Seoul you can actually find the largest christian congregation on this planet with it’s 800 000 members.
The second largest religion in South Korea, and the largest unitary religious group is the Buddhist, with 11 million active practising members and quite naturally out of Koreas geographical postion, a long history within the country. There is also a hundred thousand practisers or so each of the indigenous Won-buddhism and the moral code of Confusanism. Personally, I was a bit disappointed after discovering that the very uniqe inidgenous mixed faith of Chondogyo only has about 50 thousand followers, it is far to interesting for an amount that small.
In Sweden and Stockholm, I discover through my every day work with eduaction that religion is still a strong force within many groups, for both indigenous and immigrant swedes. Modern Sweden though, is commonly described as a none-religious society with little connection to the old Protestant church that dominated Sweden for 500 years, after kicking out the Catholics. The traces of religion can still be found everywere in holidays and also in the way people think, I believe. But then again, the connection to religion is not made directly and most importantly, many swedes proudly consider themselves secular, in a world that in so many places is full of prejudice and conflicts connected to religious belief.
I was also brought up in this consensus, religion being nothing more then the traditions from the past. Only attending church with my family, who was not in any way connected to a church, at funerals, weddings and perhaps a graduation ceremony.
On the other hand, in my early teens, as many others in that age, I started to search for some kind of philisophy to put my trust and hopes , and if you want to – my beliefs in. The road to christianity was not that difficult to take. I was baptized as a small child(tradition) and it was quite popular to go through the rituals of confirmation as a 14 year old, more of a get together for horny teens then an important step into the christian world, but actually showing the way to a modern version of religion. Also, just one generation beyond my parents, religion was still very much alive for some of my relatives. Somewhere down this road and with extensive bible reading, I found my own and very personal version of the christian protestant belief. A belief that I now find myself to have kept for almost 15 years. It is not a constant though, I’ve hesitated more times then I can count to, and I do see all the bad things that was created in the name of religions easier then ever before. But it won’t go away still and religious belief is not supposed to be easy. To acknowledge all the bad things within the religion, be humble about it and work for change was always how, as I saw it, I wanted it to work.
When I walked into the world of Kpop, I discovered quite quickly that the idols, some of them, had a very christian view on life. With this belief comes quite often a set of morals, values that is said to reflect the religion. To be a good christian means much to many with a strong belief, even though it really does not mean anything in particular. Sadly, this strong belief and the idea of being a good christian often collides with the world of today and values I personally feel strongly for, the right to abortion and the right to love who ever you choose what ever the sex are both examples of these values.
As written above, South Korea has a large group of christian practicers, and when a religion is new and on the rise it tends to be quite literal, not at all reinterpreted, progressive and modern as I imagine my own personal christian belief to be.
This is clearly showing within the Kpop-industry from time to time. When asked in an interview how the idol feels about same sex love, you could easily get the reaction of it being completly wrong and un-natural. The first time I experienced this reaction of disgust, I really did not know how to deal with it, except getting angry of course. And yet I have a very hard time just letting this pass. But I refuse to see it as just a cultural Korean opinion, but rather as the outcome of the huge impact christianity have had over the South Korean society over the last five decades.
A couple of idols that I’ve put a lot of time and effort into have a very strong christian conviction and it shows in their tweets and in the way the deal with hardships of life. As the natural disaster hit Japan this spring, both Alexander of U-kiss and Siwon of SuJu, the idols I’m talking of right now, wanted us all to pray for the japanese people and to put our trust in God. Both Siwon, and now Alexander is a part of the musical project 3rd Wave. A Christian musical project that gives it’s profit to charity and project that Alexander could be a part of after U-kiss.
It is of course nice of Siwon and Alexander to put their mind and thought into tragic events, it could absolutely be described as being a good christian, but also as just being humane. To send your thoughts to a nation wrecked by disaster is hopefully not connected to one religion. I wonder how Alexander who quite often retweet words from Joel Osteen, the american televangelist think when it comes to this?
Joel Osteen is someone who has a view of life and on christianity that I probably do not share in any aspect. I wonder how the preachings from this american pastor is received by Alexander, one of my all time favourite idols. Will Siwon and Alexander talk about the latest televised sermon from pastor Osteen when they meet on Sundays at church, and then switch over to discussing excercise and appearances on musical shows?
How do these idols think when it comes to christianity and homosexuality? They work in the world of showbiz and there must be lots af gay people around.
The reason for asking myself this question is that Siwon has worked with fan-service for his entire carrieer and is adored by fans for acting like Prince charming towards – his male colleagues. There are hundreds of fancams of him kissing the other members in SuJu at performances. SiChul is my very favourite fanfic and fan-service couple and wether or not Siwon and Heechul ever is getting it on, I do belive they do from time to time, Siwon must be fully aware of how much this semi gay approach is building his popularity. Is it working well with his born again christian mentality? A fun fact is that Heechul, an outspoken atheist and also a friend of Siwon, is not Siwons friend on twitter, but with the rest of SuJu.
When it comes to Alexander, I don’t believe that he is absolutely certain about his sexual agenda, but then again who is? I just don’t want him miss out on love or sex just because his religious belief tells him to. I don’t want him to be locked into a bubble of already given ideas and miss out on what the world could offer him. I don’t want him to devote his life to Christian music, when this is one of the worst modern genres I know.
As a young and Christian man in the western world, I prefer when people are less secure about their religious beliefs, and don’t tweet that much about it.
/The Future is Idol