Disclaimer: Contains personal opinion of the author with regards to Soshi’s faith & religion
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will be able to move mountains and do great things” [Transliteration of Matthew 17:20]
July 16th 2007. A date that will forever be etched in the memory of SONEs everywhere in the world. Why ?
Well, it is because on that fateful day, 9 young, talented, but still emotionally fragile young ladies were brought together as a K-Pop girl group, and the name “So Nyuh Shi Dae/Girls’ Generation” officially released to the music world-at-large.
Critics immediately jumped on the “hate” bandwagon, calling them “a bargain basement” girl group and SM Entertainment’s knee-jerk response to the influx of K-Pop boy groups that were omnipresent then.
Even our 9 ladies themselves were disappointed with the given group name, thinking it “too common”, “not unique enough”, “too run of the mill”, “strange”.
As for their debut song: “Da Shi Man Nan Sae Gae/Into the New World”, it was almost like a gamble piece to enable them to be recognized in the sea of new pop groups being formed then. After all, everyone knows how fickle and cut-throat the pop music entertainment world is like. (In essence, the debut song of a new K-Pop group can literally make-or-break the future career prospects of that said group ;).)
Then August 5th 2007 arrived and the girls make their first public performance on television in SBS “Inkigayo”.
Fast forward to July 2011. The Girls have just returned from Jeju Island after performing one of their many hit songs there, “Hoot”, to drum up support for the island being recognized as one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
They have just finished a very successful debut Japanese tour, released a full Japanese album that reached double platinium status in a month, gotten number 1 position on Japan’s Oricon chart (a rare 1st for a foreign group), and are now in the midst of their 2nd Asian Tour.
Elsewhere around the world, their 1st SM Town Paris 2011 concert elicited a rare display of fan-power to persuade the event organisers to hold a 2nd concert performance for fans who couldn’t get tickets the first time around. In fact, the tickets actually sold-out in a record 15 minutes after being released ( all 6300 seats) !
On the accolades front, they have gained numerous music, cultural, industry, advertising, social, solo and group awards under their proverbial belt. The highlight, in my personal opinion, was the winning of the Golden Disc Daesang Award 2010, a real feat indeed for so junior a pop group.
They now have fans (SONEs) from the East to the West, and are officially recognized as the top K-Pop Girl Group in the world and the leader in the Hallyu wave now sweeping across the world :).
So, what changed ? Frankly, in my opinion, nothing much.
The 9 young ladies are still as dorky and playful as when they first debuted 4 years ago ( almost a lifetime). They, of course, have matured in ways both physical and emotional, in a sense living out their moniker of “earthly angels”.
Fame has yet to get to their heads (and I hope it never does) and they are still as humble in outlook as when they first burst onto the K-Pop scene those 4 fateful years ago. In fact, being so famous has actually humbled them even more so, which in turn has caused a boost in their popularity.
At every award presentation, they never fail to thank the 3 most important elements to their continued successes: God, their parents and SONEs (that is, their fans). In fact, their Golden Disc Daesang Award thank you speech started with a BIG acknowledgement to the contribution of the fans (both local and international) to their present and continuing successes.
No, I personally believe that each of these 9 fine, young ladies embodies what Our Lord and Saviour said in that iconic Biblical verse quoted at the beginning of this post, that anyone “with faith the size of a mustard seed” can move “mountains” if that faith is strong enough and God-based.
A mustard seed is a small, insignificant item by itself and, in essence, can be easily overwhelmed by bigger events in the big wide world outside. I would imagine that was the sentiments of each of our 9 ladies when they started on their journey as SNSD those 4 long years ago.
Yet, like what Our Lord has quoted above, sometimes a little bit of strong faith and belief is all that you need to achieve the so-called impossible task (“to move that mountain”, for example).
That, I believe is the real reason for the current success of our favourite 9 ladies. Each of them has that “mustard seed” level of indominable faith in what they believed in ( the girls themselves, individually, and the group as a whole, collectively), and that combined together (all 9), has produced a musical force that is to be reckoned with in the world’s music industry.
A musical force, with such tsunami-like influence, that it has swept all before it, silencing the earlier critics of our 9 ladies (vis-a-vis the fact that they are just a bargain basement girl pop group), and, in many, many cases, converting these said critics into their staunchest supporters (die-hard SONEs).
As for the others, their simple faith and trust in God and each other, has gained the beautiful, talented 9 young ladies fans from all walks of life, cultures and languages, the latter fact being the most amazing of all. To be honest, how do you explain the fact that, inspite of the fact that the bulk of the girls’ performance material is in their native Korean language, their concerts (both local and foreign) are always sold-out affairs and they get more fans to their collective name each time they perform (whether live or in a music video/commercial) ?
To be really honest, the bulk of the fans that support them (outside of Korea) barely understand a word of the language. Yet, the appeal of SNSD is still there despite the language barrier. Personally, I feel that fans of the 9 ladies sees what is intangible, that is, the simple faith that is present in each of the 9 to do their very best to succeed, but not at the expense of others.
In fact, they even go out of their way to help if they can, the other party being fans or not (reference Tiffany helping a so-called “anti” in her time of need outside the SM Entertainment building in Seoul, or Sooyoung going out of her way to bring some cheer to ex-professional basketball player Park Seungil, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease). These tangible actions of care and concern serves to endear the 9 to people everywhere, SONEs or not.
Some critics may say that all this is the result of shrewd marketing by SM Entertainment to promote the girls and increase their popularity. If that were justifiably so, how then does one explain the fact that, despite new, and some would say, younger, prettier, maybe even more talented groups being introduced into the pop music market at a regular pace by many talent companies, the 9 ladies’ fan support base is not only holding strong, but increasing at an exponential rate ?
The truth be told, it is because the world-at-large recognises true faith in a person (or group of persons) when they see it. Thus, although it has already been 4 years post-debut ( a long time in the extremely competitive music industry ;)), the simple “mustard seed-sized faith” of the 9 is not only still holding strong, but growing as the years go by; a fact not unnoticed by the world. This, I believe, is the true secret behind the successes of our angelic 9 ladies.
What of their debut, so-called entry-level song then, which talked about love-lost and new opportunities found ?
Well, that song,”Da Shi Man Nan Sae Gae/Into the New World“, has become, in a way, the theme song of our 9 ladies :D. In these iconic lyrics, the hopes and dreams of these young, talented girls (ladies) are expressed for all the world to see and hear. It has struck a real chord with fans (both old and new alike), and I believe is what made many first-time listeners a SONE once they have heard it (I know it has with me !).
In essence, the song itself actually embodies the determination and dreams of these 9 ladies to succeed in fulfilling their set goals and personifies that “mustard seed-sized faith” that is present in each and every one of them.
The lyrics may sound cheesy to non-SONEs, but to true fans of our beloved 9 ladies, it chronicles their journey in the entertainment world, oh, so succinctly, and tugs at the heartstrings of all who listen to it.
In a sense, therefore, all that hard work, and the indomitable faith that each of the 9 ladies have within themselves, together has produced the musical whirlwind that is SNSD, which in essence is sweeping across the world now from the East to the West.
So, to our beautiful, young, talented, but, oh, so caring 9 earthly angels, here’s wishing you all the very best for your 4th anniversary as a group, and may the Good Lord watch over you always, reminding you to live out that “mustard seed-sized faith” that He has so graciously gifted each and every one of you with.
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