The sound of wind whistling against metal bars grated my ears, as I sat outside that winter night. I was again lost in thought; thoughts of many different things. Mostly, and unfortunately at that time, negative. If it wasn’t for the pleasant distraction I don’t know what those thoughts could have led to, nor do I wish to revisit the events of that night. I, like many of us, had dedicated my teenage years to admiring a group of people, who would only know of my collective existence with the many other people that shared that same admiration. The group of people and the pleasant distraction that night was 2PM. My story, is surely not as intense as the many motivating messages on Tumblr, describing how 2PM had helped them through life. I can’t say I wouldn’t be alive without them, but I can say that they’ve been a significant part of my life for a while now.
Parting ways is one of the hardest things to witness as we all go through life. Nevertheless, it is a natural process, and just because we part does not mean we will never meet again. As curtains closed on Sunday night, the parting became a forceful encounter for all HOTTEST. From the people witnessing live in the arena, the people streaming, to the ones reading live fan accounts, the inevitable had occurred. No one knows exactly how long this break is. And even if the six members promise to meet again soon, no one can predict when or what the future has in store for us as fans, and for 2PM as artists.
I’ve always believed in the idol illusion and until 2014 had no intentions of breaking this façade. But an opportunity came in December of that year, as I wrapped up the two years of my life I had felt most miserable. So I travelled half way around the world to catch them on stage for the first and possibly last time. I can attest that my idol illusion only strengthened from seeing them perform. When they had physically become closer to me, the bridge that once held the hope of closing the gap between idol and fan had just collapsed, and with no method of being reconstructed. However, I did come to admire them more for their performances and presence on stage. I was devastated when the first announcement of the 6 Nights concert was released. It was two weeks into university and, although the weekend of my birthday, an ominous feeling prevented me from booking plane tickets. I don’t know what it was, but the events that occurred showed that the feeling I couldn’t brush away was a foreshadowing of the unfortunate. The second round was unfortunately sandwiched between my exams. One half of me regrets it, the other half is very realistic in the acknowledgement that I can’t brush aside my studies; the only thing I have aimed for for the last 17 years. Unlike many, I have had only one dream since I was 3 and whilst I am on the right path, I still feel lost. In ways 2PM has made this loss less evident to me, but ultimately it still exists. Moving on, because that’s not a story for today.
The energy 2PM brings to the stage can be described like no other. Their developed tendency to be engaging and supportive of the audience can be felt even through that cold wall between idol and fan. Their live performances with acrobatics delivers an intensity like no other group. Not being able to see them perform live, before Taecyeon’s enlistment, will easily become a regretful past decision for me, despite the circumstances.
Rather than an intricate distinct list, the intention of this article is to show appreciation for the nine years of determination these six men have presented. I wish for it to be just one fan talking to another, recounting my admiration for the group.
2. Ok Taecyeon
I came to love Ok Taecyeon whilst watching Dream High. It could be the dimples, smile, or energy in his first scene – or a combination of all three and Korean drama magic – but I did become highly interested in this person before my screen. From him I discovered the group. My obsession started with him and may come to a standstill with his enlistment. The thing I will miss most about 2PM is Taecyeon, I won’t deny that. As for anyone, it’s hard to explain exactly why one person is their ultimate bias. Is it his jokester personality? Am I really that shallow and it’s just his looks? Is it the depth of his beautiful voice, which is highlighted beautifully when he speaks English, his perseverance, the personality he showcases on camera, his body, or his knowledge of the fans thoughts and opinions? I can’t pinpoint exactly which one it is, but it’s the way they all connect that makes Ok Taecyeon truly unique.
My refusal to accept the ending of Dream High made my journey with the drama end one episode short. But the thoughts of Ok Taecyeon lingered. Watching clips after clips of deleted Jin Guk and Hye Mi scenes, I scrolled past my first 2PM music video; I’ll Be Back. Heavy makeup and shuffling weren’t exactly a selling point. I found myself listening to other songs though, and eventually found myself bopping along. A video clip of Taecyeon speaking English affirmed my current track into the foreign fandom side of K-pop. The next suggested video was a subbed version of 2PM’s season of Idol Army. I found myself laughing so loud at 1AM, my parents, who were 3 rooms away, came to check up on me. 2PM’s humour and their command of variety shows locked in my status as a HOTTEST. Although guest appearances are more than sufficient to show their hilarity, their full potential is best displayed when they’re in control of the show. Idol Army, Wild Bunny, the 2PM Show are all idol variety classics; shows you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy. Whilst Wild Beat was a nice glimpse of their variety talent, being a reality show the primary intention was not to capture this.
From the official acceptance that I had fallen back into the realm of K-pop, for someone that did not know any better, I made my first official K-pop forum account on the infamous Allkpop. The hate for 2PM and, well, any successful group in general, was overwhelming to the extent I found myself only casually posting in the 2PM official thread. Nevertheless, that thread was very quiet half the time. That was when I started to question where all the 2PM fans actually were. A kind fellow HOTTEST on the site, directed me to a forum called Hallyu8. I remember very distinctively she could not write the proper name due to the forum’s censorship, but gave clear enough clues to lead me to the right place. At that time I only followed and talked in the 2PM thread due to prior bad experiences on the previous forum. The 2PM thread on Hallyu8 showed me such warm hospitality, something I personally don’t think I’ve seen in any other official thread. When Hallyu8 went down I returned to that dark forum for a few days, before OneHallyu was introduced. This is where I would make the majority of my friends. All the welcoming HOTTEST became, to this day, some of the best internet friends I would have. As we talked I realised I was becoming more and more passionate about the group. There are people that say fandoms have scared them away from groups, but for me this fandom has made me love the group even more. With 2PM going on hiatus, the HOTTESTs that have remained over the years are slowly starting to return to normal life as well. I will dearly miss them – all the people that I had once fangirled with. Whilst I’ve found many other friends on the forum I don’t think I’ll ever feel such a sense of community and unity in one fandom. 2PM’s fans, just like 2PM themselves, have become a very special part of my life and memories.
5. Group Pictures
I remember walking into a K-pop store on a trip to a main city. It wasn’t my first visit to the area but it was a store that, due to my prior disinterest, I had never explored before. This time the K-pop MVs playing from the televisions in the window screen drew this new fan in like a magnet. At that time, I owned two 2PM physical albums and was interested in adding to my collection. While I came for albums what I was interested in were the pretty posters hanging from the wall. A poster from their 2012 Seasons Greetings suspended from another poster, both of which I purchased. It was very hard to find a method to successfully keep the posters on the wall, but eventually it worked. I’ve stated that my initial attraction to the group was their visual aesthetic, and having this picture stuck on my wall only amplified this. To this day I still regard 2PM as the most aesthetically pleasing K-pop group. I may be biased but I don’t think there is a group that can rival their topless pictorials. Topless, suited, or wearing casual attire, I know that not being able to find or anticipate new pictures of the group together is something I’ll feel the absence of. I’m shallow, I openly admit to that. But when they’re in one frame together, regardless of whether it’s a pictorial or not, it’s picturesque.
I’ve never been someone extremely attracted to music. Whilst I knew people that would keep up with the latest tracks, my music library primarily compromised of official soundtracks from my favourite dramas. Only when I was cleaning the house would I turn it on as background music. My liking for music derives from repetition. I judge songs based of whether I can get to like them, or I just dislike them. In the early stages of my HOTTEST journey I was only listening to the songs to anticipate Taecyeon’s voice. Eventually though, I became accustomed to their sound and appreciated their musicality and the hard work they put into composing the pieces. When I first became a fan they were on the two-year Korean hiatus, due to unforeseen circumstances. The initial excitement of a comeback was a long awaited enjoyment. Whilst staying up until early hours in the night was never a problem, the anticipation of music videos and teasers every comeback is a feeling I absolutely adore. Not being able to listen to songs for the first time and waiting for Taecyeon’s voice, or choosing the songs I want to see performed anytime soon, will be one less thing to spice up my routine-like lifestyle. An overwhelming sadness comes to me whenever I think of this. Whilst I didn’t initially love them for their music, I would not have come to love them so much without it.
7. Group Hugs
As I keep writing this list keeps getting longer. I remember in tenth grade I had hand written ten pages, explaining to my fabric teacher, why I had chosen to base my pillow case design on that one simple drawing of Okcat. At that time he was still just a drawing. These ten pages basically explained my admiration for 2PM. Surprisingly she read all ten pages, and returned it to me, saying she knew exactly why I had come to my decision. That was five years ago, only about one year into my discovery. 5 years later, there are an abundance of other reasons I have come to truly admire this group. Whilst people tell you not to believe in the K-pop group bond, what I do believe is that the members of this group truly respect each other. Many people use Jay Park’s complicated departure as a method to dismiss 2PM’s friendship. But till this day Jay Park has talked about not having money in that period, he has expressed his dislike for the company, but never has he changed what he said about the members of the group. I know his name is something many HOTTEST have come to detest, understandably so, and his way of life is not to be looked upon for everyone, but he has never said anything bad about the members. He again and again states that when he was in the group they were his ‘brothers’. Yes, he admits they drifted and that they don’t keep in contact, but his departure carried along a hardship and hurdle like no other for the group. Through overcoming this and the many other obstacles in the nine years as a group, even if I acknowledge they have best friends outside of the group, I truly do believe that they have moulded into more than business partners.
Every year they have attended a year end Gayo Dajeon, we have witnessed their group hugs during the New Year’s count down. The heartfelt sincerity of their bonds shines most throughout this. To many it may seem like a small act, but it alone can bring a warmth like no other to me as a fan. This is the same group hug they stayed in after curtains closed on the Sunday night of their last concert. The same precious sentiment, along with tears of a farewell acceptance, welled in me.
As a group, 2PM is one full of charms. They are the group I’m most hesitant to part ways with and the K-pop group I will always have the most memories of, whether happy or sad ones. Just like how High School was a major aspect of my teen memories, 2PM will be as well. To all my fellow HOTTEST, who await their return, may these years allow for many prospects of life, shine for you. And to 2PM who has been given me more than I can hope for as a fan, thank you. Thank you for everything; for the smiles, the laughs, the friends and the memories. May the day we meet again be a day we have all become our best selves.