Super Junior, my indescribable heartbeat
Written by: Michele Hii (Twitter @MichHiiELF) (Head admin)
It all started when I took Basic Japanese as an elective course at Douglas College back in the year 2015. I had a crush on one of my colleagues, who was a Korean. I thought that I would get to know a little more on Korean culture so that I can get his attention. That was when the name of a Korean pop boy group, Super Junior, came to my attention. I remember watching one or two of their music videos when I was a teenager, but I wasn’t familiar with the group at that time. I decided to watch a music video I’ve seen once before. This time, one of the members of the group caught my eye. His eyes were as big and bright as a puppy’s. His hair was a beautiful soft brown. His voice was like a Cupid’s arrow that was shot straight to my heart. As I looked through several fan sites, I got to know his name: Cho Kyu Hyun.
As days went by, I got into more of their music. The more Kyu Hyun appeared on my phone screen, the deeper I fell in love with him. He had hypnotized me with his looks, vocals and humour. Within a few months, I did my homework on familiarizing myself with all thirteen members of Super Junior as well as studying as many facts of Super Junior as I could. I grew to love the whole group a lot more; I could even recognize each of their voices, faces and heights.
Weeks later, I told my crush about my love for Super Junior. He didn’t respond to it until the time I talked to an exchange student from Japan. He was also a Super Junior fan. We were raving about some of the Super Junior songs we loved in front of a group of friends, including my crush. In the middle of our conversation, my crush’s laugh cut us off.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“This is embarrassing!” he laughed as he shook his head. He even said it in Japanese. Both the student and I exchanged glances. Why would he say that? Liking a group namely Super Junior is embarrassing? I wanted to tell him that he’s being rude, but I kept to myself. I realized that I shouldn’t have discussed anything about Super Junior with him.
After familiarizing myself with as much information on Super Junior as I could, I thought meeting other fan would help me to learn more about them. So on March 3rd, 2016, I created a Super Junior fan account on Instagram called michhiielf93. During the first few months, I searched for accounts that have Super Junior related usernames, and I followed them one by one. I set up a goal of reaching a thousand followers within a year, and I knew that I had to make a good impression from other fans on Instagram. So I searched for Super Junior images on Google and fan pages on Facebook and Twitter before I saved them in my phone’s gallery. Then, I chose which image to post on Instagram. I also brainstormed as many creative captions as I could to go together with the images I planned to post. My captions vary from a sentence to a paragraph and even to a poem. One of my favourite captions is “Rising from the abyss is a squad of heroes. They marched down the aisle with poise. The one and only, Super Junior, 15 Supermen, the last men standing!”; it’s posted above a screenshot from a YouTube video of Super Junior performing one of their hit songs called “Superman”. I shared three to five Super Junior images per day, and this eventually became a daily routine. No matter how busy I was, I made sure that I had a little bit of time to compose a new Instagram post with a perfect picture, an eye-catching caption and a sufficient number of hashtags. Surprisingly, I had 4391 followers within the same year, which was beyond my expectations. I also turned my inactive Twitter account into a Super Junior fan account called MichHiiELF.
I’ve been updating my Instagram account and connecting with my followers for nearly 2 years now. As I get to know my followers more, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. A few months ago, I noticed a slow decrease in my number of followers. Was it because my account had gone boring? Was it because I lost touch on some of the followers who I used to talk to? As I shared this concern with some of my followers, our discussions make me realize that having a fan account was not about gaining followers, but it’s about gaining new friendship with people who share the same love of Super Junior as I do. I realized that all this time I was greedy for aiming more people to follow my account, and because of this I felt a little too proud of myself. Super Junior has worked very hard to come up with the best music for people to enjoy and to make their group name shine in the Korean pop industry and abroad. My job as a fan is to love and support them till the end. I also will always be grateful for my followers who have became my new fellow ELF (short for Super Junior fan club name, Everlasting Friends). We are friends who are always there for each other, and are always there to support all members of the K-Pop group.
One of the reasons why I’m grateful that I choose to be a fan of Super Junior is the feeling of anticipation and excitement when Super Junior is having a comeback. To me, the anticipation for a Korean pop idol’s comeback is higher than the anticipation for the sequel of a favourite novel. When articles from K-Pop news sites announced Super Junior’s comeback on July15, 2015, I squealed like a 5-years-old. I jot down the dates of the music video release, the album release, the live stream sessions, the variety shows they will participate as guests in, the live performances, and any other promotional activities on the calendar app of my phone. I woke up at 3am just to watch the live stream for Super Junior’s introduction to the new album, and I waited for an hour or so till the music video of their new song, “Devil”, was dropped on YouTube. Once the first few notes of an electric guitar was played at the beginning of the song, I was immediately hooked by the rhythm. Even when I watched their first live performance of the comeback, I was blown away by their clear, distinctive voices. Each member wore a suit with a different colour; I especially adored Kyuhyun who looked handsome in a beige suit. If he ever danced with that suit in front of me, I would probably die with happiness!
The joy of seeing the group together, however, doesn’t last long. There are times when the members have responsibilities to take care of or be involved in an unexpected problem. Two of the members, Shindong and Sungmin, were serving in the military during the Devil comeback. Three months later after the “Devil” comeback, more members enlisted to fulfill their mandatory military service. Every time I watch fan cams of a Super Junior member got his head shaved and made his way to the army camp, I couldn’t control myself from sobbing. It’s like sending a loved one away to a faraway place, and I won’t be able to see that person in a long period of time. And the more the members leave for army service, the smaller the size of the group looks like. My bias, Kyuhyun, is the youngest member of the group, so he’s the last member to enlist. When his enlistment day, May 25, 2017, arrived, it was difficult for me to maintain my composure. I couldn’t imagine myself scrolling through social media without seeing Kyuhyun’s big, black eyes and slightly chubby face in a Super Junior photo. It is a struggle for me as an ELF, because I won’t see him as an idol for two years.
The remaining Super Junior members distract themselves with their individuals careers. Leeteuk, the leader and oldest member of the group, as well as Heechul, the second oldest member, host a big number of variety shows. Yesung, one of the oldest members, focuses on acting and singing as a solo balladeer. Shindong, who finished his soldier duty on December 23, 2016, pursues his dream in directing music videos. They work hard in their personal passions not just for their own benefit, but also to represent Super Junior as a group that is still existing. Their hard work and dedication as either an individual worker or a group member have touched me and inspired me to do the same for my own goals in life. Even when rumours of several members spread like wildfire, the rest of the members put all of their heart and energy into their careers.
Speaking of rumours, my ex-crush’s comment on how embarrassing he thought Super Junior was reminds me of people who look down on Super Junior. Ever since Super Junior debuted back in 2005, the members are heavily criticized for being a part of a group with 13 members. SM Entertainment, the entertainment agency, originally made Super Junior a project group; the members were the remaining trainees at that time, and the company used them as an experiment to see whether a big-sized Korean pop group would work. Thanks to the support from a small number of fans, Super Junior has yet to disband. And it doesn’t look like they will anytime soon. The group has a lot more comebacks than expected, and the amount of fans grows year by year till their popularity escalates to the whole world. In fact, Super Junior is listed as the music group with the most members in the Guinness World Records. Despite the fact that Super Junior has accomplished so many things that make themselves icons of Korean pop and role models of future Korean pop sensations such as numerous awards and qualified positions as brand ambassadors, there are haters who enjoy bashing Super Junior.
As years passed by, news become a lot more negative. Sungmin, who is one of the youngest members of the group, was boycotted by a Super Junior fan community ran by a Korean ELF in June this year due to rumours of him not caring about the fans and the group just because of his wedding preparations with his wife, Kim Sa Eun. Kangin, who I describe as the black sheep of the group, unintentionally crashed his car against a lamp post while drunk driving in May last year. Siwon, who was supposedly participating in the promotion for the comeback last month, is in recovery from his neighbour’s death caused by his dog’s bite. Such rumours caused controversies to rise, and as a result, these members were unable to participate in the comeback schedules. To me, the worst case scenario is these men, who are in despair, are not given another chance to resume their jobs as idols. Leeteuk, the leader of Super Junior, even has to apologize for his fellow bandmates no matter what issues they’re blamed for. Super Junior may be the group that are despised by people, they don’t understand the group as much as the fans do. As an ELF, I feel like I’m connected to Super Junior, because the more I understand their situation and feelings, the more I’m concerned about them.
On a bright side, Super Junior’s comeback last month got me even more excited than before. I was blown away by the tremendous surprises they had prepared, including a documentary series entitled “SJ Returns” that was screened on an smartphone app called V Live for six to seven weeks. Their new double title tracks, “Black Suit” and “One More Chance”, proved fans that they’d set the bar high with improved vocal training and music arrangement. “Black Suit” wowed me with its smooth combination of funky retro pop, piano and brass melodies. I was instantly smitten by all seven members who were dressed up in black suits for the music video, including Eunhyuk who looked absolutely sexy in a black and white striped dress shirt that went well with a black blazer and a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. The music video’s storyline of a missing million-dollar black suit from an auction fitted so well with Super Junior’s classy and manly fashion. “One More Chance” was a ballad mixed with a balance of pop and rock elements. This song portrayed Super Junior’s message for ELF, which was to not “leave like the rain” as shown in the first line of the chorus; the music video showed each of the members, dressed up in sweaters and jackets for an autumn vibe, in different settings that signified their deepest burdens. For example, Leeteuk trapped in a room with fire blazing at the corners, which symbolized his inability to escape from past memories.
My followers on Twitter have inspired me to do something that I have never thought of. Frankly, Twitter is one of the worst apps in all of the Internet. When it comes to negative news on Super Junior, people retweet them within seconds, and malicious comments always appear first. Those kind of comments are from Twitter users who are biased. They only care about their favourite artists, but not other artists who other people admire. So to show themselves that they are proud of their favourites, they will bring something up that either never happen or have happened years ago such as “Super Junior is flop.” or “Super Junior should disband”. I’m astonished to see a lot of ELF on Twitter defend for Super Junior by saying things like “obviously you don’t know who Super Junior really is, so why don’t you just leave them alone”. At the same time, I’m worried that the more people see ELF as a rude fan club, the worse Super Junior’s image will be. Therefore, I don’t want to be one of those people who only cares about gossips, and not showing sympathy towards members who are facing difficulties in their idol life and personal life. I want my account to be a source where Super Junior fans can be enlightened with words of encouragement concerning gossips and malice. One of my favourite advice for all ELF is to ignore the haters and to spread positivity.
This is where the idea of getting myself out of my comfort zone comes in. On June 20, 2017, I’ve decided to create a fan base called ELFCANada. I’ve met three Canadian ELF who are now admins of the fan base, and we’ve come up with a motto which is “ELF CAN do anything”. As months pass by, our fan base is recognized by a good number of ELF all over Canada, and we’ve just reached 423 followers on ELFCANada’s Twitter page. I’m proud that I’ve made this happen. I’ve turned from a fan to a leader of a Canadian fan base. Together with my other three admins, we will keep on sharing our love and support for Super Junior and connecting with Canadian fans. One of my favourite tweets from our Twitter account is “Super Junior doesn’t deserve [people who disrespect] them, they deserve those who [value] them as a [Korean pop] phenomenon. #SuperJunior #KingsofKPop” Korea calls them the Kings of K-Pop, because they’re the first group that influences the global K-Pop trend today.
Super Junior has overcame difficulties as a group for 12 years now. They treat one another like brothers, and their bond is like glue. I never even regret of choosing them as my ultimate favourite music group. Thanks to my ex crush, I’ve found a group of unique, talented, down-to-earth, genuine, and hardworking artists who have delivered more than a decade of amazing content and tremendous love to their fans. Thanks to Super Junior, I’ve made friends from all over the world. And someday, I hope to meet them all in person. I want to thank them all for following and supporting my account, and to continue my fangirling on Super Junior with them. If I get to describe Super Junior in two words, I would say they’re an “indescribable heartbeat”. Every time I hear, see and talk about the name Super Junior, my heart beats in a pattern I can’t describe in words. And I will not let my heart stop beating for them.