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Profile Of A K-Pop Fan: 18-Year-Old Tori Koehl Of Pennsylvania Loves The Warmth Of K-Pop, Beginning With EXO And Ailee

By Tamar Herman | September 12, 2015 08:00 AM EDT

NAME: Victoria (Tori) Koehl

AGE: 18

HOME: Philadelphia, PA

CURRENTLY: Attending Stevenson University in Maryland

INTRO TO K-POP: “My best friend actually got me into K-pop, and she tried for a long time! I was being nice about it, and then one fateful day, I remember it was our last choral concert of the year (my last one ever!) on May 7th. During the break between school and our concert we went out to dinner with a bunch of people, and she played EXO’s ‘Call Me Baby.’

"This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard it, as she had shown me the music video before. That in itself was funny too, now that I think about it. My first K-pop song and music video ever. Do you know who starts it out? Kai! He was the first face I ever saw, and now he’s my ultimate bias! So funny, and I remember thinking, ‘wow, there’s way too many of them,’ and ‘wow, they all look the same,’ and ‘wow, they dance really, really well though,' 'wow, why are they wearing so much eyeliner?’"

"But that night right before the concert, I couldn’t get that first chorus out of my head (I really think it had to do with Sehun’s super deep baritone during the first chorus). I bought the song, and listened to it the whole way home and for three whole days any time I got in the car. Now that’s a lot for me, because it’s a 30 minute drive just to school. And I just left it on repeat! So I listened to it for at least three hours on repeat. I loved it so much! Then the next songs I bought were ‘Overdose’ and ‘Growl.’ Now here I am with numerous albums.”

WHY K-POP?: ”Kpop is not just music, it’s an entire experience. It’s not like you just hear it on the radio and it’s over. It’s an entire lifestyle, especially if you’re from another country! These idols aren’t like normal bands, they get into these big companies and work their butts off to debut. The passion they have for their music and their fans is unreal, it shows in everything they do. I think the beats are sicker, the dances are WAY more intense than anything I’ve ever seen. They live in dorms with their band for goodness sake! They really are a family, just like when you say 'you can’t pick your family'.”

CULTURAL MISUNDERSTANDINGS: “Most people in America don’t get that it’s not about the language barrier! It’s only a barrier if you let it be one! Everyone’s like, ‘oh, K-pop, I don’t know what they’re saying so, I’ll pass.’ Like, no!! Just because you don’t understand right now, doesn’t mean you can’t ever! I look up the English translation and sing along in Korean too! Subtitles can be a magical thing. Even so, I’ve learned so many Korean words from songs without even trying! Even if you don’t speak their language, the beats and music is still amazing and it can still be beautiful. Ask choir singers, they’re always singing in Italian or something!”

FAVORITE GROUP: EXO

WHY EXO: “At this point, I feel like they’re family, I really feel like I know them! Because they don’t just sing, they have all these variety shows and events, my favorite is ‘EXO’s Showtime.’ You learn so much about them watching these things, and I really feel like I know them so well. It’s crazy, and they don’t even know I exist! But I love EXO, not only because they were my first group ever, but because they really are a family and their talent is ridiculous. In my head, no one beats them, ever. They are really the best! They’ve lost three members (I’m not giving up hope!) and that’s a lot! They’ve been through some crap, but they never stop working so hard, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. They’re amazing people.”

FAVORITE SONG: “Growl

FAVORITE SOLO ARTIST: Ailee

WHY Ailee: “Because she’s one of the most phenomenal singers I’ve ever heard.”

FAVORITE SONG: "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton cover 

HOW K-POP HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE: “Jongin [Kai of EXO] has a quote about doing well in school, and that motivates me more than anything. I want my body to look good for KCON next year so that has motivated me to get fit, and just listening to their music makes me feel so confident. I walk around my college campus like I can do anything when I listen to AOA’s ‘Heart Attack!’ It’s been such a good influence, and I’m so glad it’s not just a phase.”

If you'd like to be featured in the "Profile Of A K-pop Fan" column, send an email with a recent photo of yourself to fan@kpopstarz.com. Please include the subject header "Fan."

Tagged :  Profile of a K-Pop Fan, tori koehl, EXO, Ailee

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