May 9, 2018
Special to The Persian Observer by Laila’s Mom
Three years ago, we (my husband and I) were introduced to K-Pop or Korean popular music. We do not speak Korean, have not visited Korea (other than in transit to another Asian destination) or have Korean friends. Who introduced us to this music? Our then 13-year-old daughter. Laila and her middle school friends listened to the music, read blogs, watched music videos, learned their choreography and spent hours on YouTube watching the 7 members of BTS train, dance and expose their lives behind the music videos. When not doing this, they would talk and at times, argue, over which BTS member they each related to the most. We thought this interest would subside as the only connection to anything Korean was this K-pop group. We were wrong. The interest continues; her bedroom walls are still covered in BTS posters, she giggles when she is watching BTS videos and regularly brings us updates on BTS activities.
In 2016, we took Laila and a friend to the Honda Center to see BTS. Their enthusiasm for this group was not unlike the thousands of middle school and high school young ladies we saw at the venue. Other parents shared the same experience as our very Southern California household has gone through in coming to terms to the fact that our girl is absolutely smitten by the music, dance moves, fashion, look and stories shared by this Korean boy band. BTS will be back in So Cal in the Fall.
The take away from this experience, as we observe our daughter ‘fangirl-ing’ (as she calls it) over BTS is that music and dance are powerful. Laila does not speak or understand Korean, yet she is moved by what these young men do in terms of their artistic expression. Her interest has moved her to learn about Korean culture, language and even politics. As parents, we appreciate the value in this as bridges built across cultures at a young age will serve well to build bridges across cultures in adulthood. And although BTS has no idea about what is happening in our household, they would likely be very pleased to find that they have an avid supporter in a young lady of Persian descent who lives in Southern California. An interest in music and dance is not out of the ordinary in our Persian circle of family and friends. Since she was born, Laila has been exposed to Persian music and dance. Indeed, the Persian culture has a rich arts history: from poetry to miniature paintings; from traditional silversmithing to Persian carpet design; from Bandari rhythms to the songs of Persian music artist Andy.
Artistic human expression is a beautiful concept in any language and culture. It is clear to us that Laila understands this very well. Our cultural horizon is expanding thanks to our 16-year-old.