(Photo : courtesy of Elena Braun)
(Photo : Facebook)
NAME: Elena Braun
HOME: Brookings, Ore.
CURRENTLY: "I have been delivering newspapers for four years for people around my neighborhood," Braun explains. "I am home-schooled online with Alpha Omega Academy which is a big temptation for me because I love going on Facebook to check out K-pop groups when I"m supposed to be doing homework."
INTRO TO K-POP: "When I discovered K-pop, I was thrilled," Braun said. "I loved how many of the groups focused on being cute, innocent, and fun. I also liked the fact that many of the K-pop groups had just a spot of sexiness without taking it too far, like many American pop artists. I had never seen group dancing in music videos and I thought it looked amazing. I have tried introducing my few friends to K-pop and many of them do not like it, which disappoints me greatly. I always show my friends the most amazing K-pop music videos by some of the most talented groups and they"re always upset that they can"t understand what they"re saying. When someone complains about this, I always tell them what CL from 2NE1 said, "even if you don"t understand the language, you can still love the music.""
FAN CREDENTIALS: Although she hasn"t had been able to see any K-pop artists live yet, last summer, Braun used a family trip to Portland, Ore. as an opportunity to stock up on her fan supplies. "We ate at a Korean restaurant named "Koreana,"" she recalled. "They had K-pop playing in the background. It was my first time hearing K-pop in public so I was very excited. After we finished eating, we went to a Korean store called H Mart and I had $50 to spend. I wish I could have stayed there for hours looking at everything from Korea but we had to leave after about an hour or so. I bought K-pop socks, Korean facemasks, Korean chopsticks, and a Korean keychain. It was an amazing experience because I saw many things that I have only seen in Korean dramas. I have always thought that some football fans were very peculiar because if their favorite team lost they would be really mad, or sometimes even cry. I now scold myself for judging them so easily."
WHAT MOST AMERICANS DON"T UNDERSTAND ABOUT K-POP: "That it"s okay for a guy to be fashionable!" Braun said. "One thing I love about K-pop is that the artists express themselves, not only through their music, but also through how they dress. Another thing I think a lot of people don"t understand is that K-pop idols are people too. In their music videos they look like perfect singing and dancing machines. Sometimes, when scandals or other things happen, people are shocked to think that they would do something like that. I think something a lot of people need to know is that they make mistakes, just like us."
FAVORITE GROUP: Exo
WHY EXO IS EXCELLENT: "In addition to being handsome, cute and sexy, they are also very talented," Braun said. "I also like the fact that they are funny. When I first got into K-pop, I thought that the only groups that existed were Big Bang, Super Junior, Girls" Generation and SHINee because they were all I could find on YouTube. As the K-pop fan grew inside of me, I discovered more and more groups thanks to websites like KpopStarz and fan pages on Facebook. When I discovered Exo, I felt like I had finally found my ultimate group. Their music can be so sad and sweet it would make me want to cry. Then, the next minute, it would make me feel like I was on top of the world, thanks to songs like "Growl" and "Wolf." Their music would make my mood go from sad to happy kind of like how gas makes car"s gas gauge go from empty to full. I also love how they include their fans in their slogan, "we are one. We are Exo!""
BEST EXO SONG: "Black Pearl"
"It gives me hope that I might have a chance with them, since one of the phrases in it says "international girl,"" she said.
FAVORITE FEMALE SOLO ARTIST: Ailee
"Ailee is amazing," Braun said. "When I discovered her I was in awe. Not only could she sing incredibly well, she"s beautiful. Ailee is more than just an artist I like, she"s my role model."
FAVORITE AILEE SONG: "I Will Show You"
FAVORITE MALE SOLO ARTIST: Henry Lau of Super Junior-M
"Henry Lau is so talented," she said. "I love his music! When he debuted as a solo artist, I knew I had to add him to my list. He can speak six different languages, play the violin and piano very well, dance and sing."
FAVORITE HENRY LAU SONG: "My Everything"
FAVORITE NEW ARTIST: Got7
"Got7 debuted a couple of weeks ago and I"ve noticed that they are already very popular," Braun said. "I think that they will definitely be a K-pop group to watch in 2014. I really like their concept and although I wasn"t a big fan of their debut, I have a feeling that this group is made for big things. Many people are comparing them to WINNER."
FUTURE PLANS: "I hope to be an English teacher in South Korea after I get my bachelor"s degree," she said. "I feel so much better now knowing that I have a bright future doing something that I know I"ll love--living in South Korea, teaching children, and listening to K-pop."
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