Standing beside me was Jon Toth, a twenty-nine-year-old white guy, a computer scientist who had driven twelve hours straight from New Mexico. Toth is a fan of Girls’ Generation, a nine-member girl group in the process of recording its American début album, with Interscope Records. At the time he stumbled across the Girls, on YouTube, Toth was an alt-rock guy; he loved Weezer. “I was definitely not the kind of guy you’d expect to get into a nine-girl Asian group,” he told me. But before long Toth was studying Korean, in order to understand the lyrics and also Korean TV shows. Then he started cooking Korean food. Eventually, he travelled all the way to Seoul, where, for the first time, he was able to see the Girls—Tiffany, Sooyoung, Jessica, Taeyeon, Sunny, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Yoona, and Seohyun—perform live. It was a life-changing experience.
“You think you love them, but then you see Tiffany point directly at you and wink, and everything else that exists in the world just disappears,” Toth wrote on Soshified, a Girls’ fan site. “You think you love them, but then you see Sooyoung look you dead in the eye and say in English, ‘Thank you for coming.’ ” Toth concluded, “I might not know how much I love these girls.”
Here is much more, interesting throughout. How about this?:
Double-fold-eyelid surgery, which makes eyes look more Western, is a popular reward for children who get good marks on school exams. The popularity of the K-pop idols has also brought Chinese, Japanese, and Singaporean “medical tourists” to Seoul to have their faces altered to look more like the Korean stars. Some hotels have partnered with hospitals so that guests can have in-house procedures; the Ritz-Carlton Seoul, for example, offers an eighty-eight-thousand-dollar “anti-aging beauty package.” Women come to have their cheekbones shaved down and undergo “double jaw surgery,” in which the upper and lower jawbones are cracked apart and repositioned, to give the whole skull a more tapered look.
For the pointer I thank Viktor.