By Thu Nguyen
SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Karen Nguyen, a junior at Silver Creek, is a K-pop enthusiast and social justice advocate who wows many with her knowledge.
Her passion for Korean pop music stems from her admiration of the fandom, demonstrated in how they freely express their love for the artists.
Korean pop culture is a very interesting topic for Nguyen, not only because she thinks that it’s just cool, but also due to how the artists use their popularity. They are able to use their power to influence millions of fans and use it for unselfish reasons. An example Nguyen provided was when a member of BTS donated $1 million to a Black Lives Matter organization during the height of the movement.
Her favorite K-pop group of all time is Treasure, a boy band formed in 2019 that has twelve members. Nguyen’s favorite song from the band is “직진 (JIKJIN).” She favors this song the most because of its recent release and how it was different from what she expected. When she first heard the teasers, Nguyen thought she would have to defend the song on the frontlines. As it turns out, the song is her most “treasured” since she really likes the chorus.
While Nguyen does look up to K-pop culture, she understands that there are also conflicts within the community that need to be addressed and resolved, such as the lack of freedom artists have in their personal lives due to the tight contracts they are under. The companies in which they are signed to have complete control over their lives and fail to take into consideration the stress they experience. Without the ability to freely express or voice their opinion without being under the scrutinization of the public, it is hard for them to lead a life of liberty.
Besides being a K-pop fan, Nguyen also has strong stances on the prison system. By sending a convicted criminal to a prison, she believes they should be given the opportunity to be rehabilitated and correct their behavior. Criminal rehabilitation is meant to help inmates grow and change by allowing them to separate themselves from the environmental factors that made them commit a crime in the first place. Unfortunately, the current prison system in the U.S. is horribly overcrowded and offers inhumane living conditions. Long term isolation can have harmful effects on the human mind. Almost all of the inmates who return back to society go back into a life of crime.
Nguyen claims, “I believe if you treat a human like an animal, they are going to behave like an animal. If you treat a human like a human, they will behave like a human.”