Forget Ben & Jerrys! Korean Boy Bands Got Me Over MY Hard Breakup

Photo: Caithlin Pena

Sometimes a little fun is exactly what you need to move on.

For four years, I was in a relationship with a great guy.

He was sweet, funny, a bit on the nerdy side (just like me), and we were each other's first relationship.

Most of the relationship was pretty blissful. We were "in love" and as a result, we both believed that our love would last forever.

Until, of course, the day we broke up.

I found myself single once more and not really sure what to do with the heartbreak. I was a mess.

Being an editorial fellow at, I've read more than my fair share of articles about "how to get over your breakup." So, I decided to do something crazy and actually try out some of those tips to help get my mind off the situation and start moving on (because easier said than done, right?).

And one of these things that really helped was indulging my love of Korean boy bands.

Now, I've always been a huge fan of K-pop (FYI: the term used to mean Korean pop music specifically, but recently it has come to mean Korean popular music in general). A friend introduced me to it in late 2010. She posted the music video of a 5-member boy band called SHINee to my Facebook wall. I was instantly hooked! 


I own albums, posters, and goodies of my favorite bands and singers. I'll even fully admit that I learned the choreography to the different dances, studied up on the culture and history, and tried to learn the language. I was a total unapologetic K-pop fangirl ... and being one brought me immense joy.

Flash forward to me meeting my boyfriend a year later. He wasn't really a fan and never understood my excitement.

He introduced me to a bunch of new (American) music, and though he never banned me or told me to stop with K-pop, I (like so many women do) made the decision to take a break from it because I wanted to connect with my boyfriend through his favorite music.

In all fairness, I did enjoy his music. 

But, in putting my relationship first, I totally put away the part of me that made me feel happy and silly and just ... alive! 

I stopped dancing. I stopped keeping up with K-pop news. I stopped buying albums and goodies. 

Until finally, after the breakup ... something inside me woke back up and quietly rebelled.

I suddenly found myself ignoring all the music my ex had given me — besides, hearing those songs brought back relationship memories and that kind of hurt.

But I'm a music aficionado, I NEED my daily music fix. And (no judgments if you love her) frankly Taylor Swift's love and breakup songs just weren't doing it for me. (That stuff just made me want to cry every time Taylor talks about fairy tale romance and broken love.) 

I found myself listening to K-pop again ... while working, on the train, while taking a shower.

I could hear myself singing along (full disclosure: with very bad Korean pronunciation), tapping my foot to the beat. Then, I started watching the music videos again and found myself itching to dance once more. I started watching Korean variety shows featuring different K-pop bands.

Basically, I was hooked once more — and although the ache of the breakup was still there, it was manageable. 


At first, my re-immersion was slow and gradual, just re-getting to know my favorite bands again (like SHINee) and catching up with what happened in the last two years when I took a break. And then, I was introduced to a 7-member band called Infinite. They're actually K-pop veterans. I liked some of their songs, but I never took an interest in the band itself until I watched a show with them as the guests. 

In the show, they played games, chatted with the hosts, and performed at the finale. I was intrigued by their antics and mesmerized by their performance, and I felt a stirring in my chest that I haven't felt in a long while.

(You totally know where this is going, right?) 

That's right — fangirl crush! 

Before I knew it, I was looking up the band members on Wikipedia to put names to faces. I looked through their Discography to find albums and songs (as veterans in the K-pop scene, there was A LOT!). And then, I watched countless shows and even Korean dramas that featured any or all of the members.

It totally felt like I was 18 again and discovering this beautiful world called K-pop for the first time ... and you know what, it was FUN! 


I suddenly woke up each day with a giddy feeling, looking forward to picking up on the episode I left off the night before, or jamming to songs, and, get this, learning choreography again. (Yep, I totally admit it!)

I tapped backed into my inner artist and began redecorating my room again (I had stripped my walls bare when I took my K-pop break), and those creative hours were relaxing and cleared the chaotic post-breakup thoughts in mind.

My sudden rediscovery of the music that I loved (and left for a while) also prompted me to join Facebook groups dedicated to specific bands or K-pop, in general.

I met and befriended new people from all walks of life from different parts of the world: teenagers, adult women ... and quite a good number of men in their 20s (the same age as me), and even parents whose young children were fans. 

Beyond the chatting about our favorite bands, lyrics and music videos, we sometimes got personal and learned each other's stories. I was surprised to learn that, like me, some were going through heartbreak and sought solace in the genre. There were teenagers whose parents were going through divorce and K-pop became their positive distraction. A few stories were sadder, individuals who were depressed and almost ended their own life if not for the discovery of a K-pop band.

So, do I think everyone should listen to K-pop to get over a breakup?

No, of course not! (Well, maybe I do, but let's go with the less fangirl answer: No, of course not.)

One Hallyu

But what I AM saying is — the best way to get over a breakup is to get back to being true to yourself and reconnecting to the positive things you love. 

Sometimes the best therapy is just enjoying yourself. NOT being so serious for awhile. Laughing. Dancing. Feeling excited about something simple and positive that makes you feel HAPPY. 

It doesn't have to be practical or move you toward your major life goals. It just has to help you lighten up and remember that who you are is already good enough.

All the people in those K-pop groups bonded, no matter who they were. We all shared a love and enjoyment of these Korean boy and girl groups. Maybe it was the cool-looking music videos, the mesmerizing dances, the catchy beat and lyrics, the hilarious antics, or even simply the pretty and handsome faces of these Korean idols. 

You can think it's silly. But it genuinely helped. 

Slowly, but surely, K-pop started putting back together the pieces of my heart that broke a few months prior (I don't care if that's cliche. Breakups hurt and you know it.) 

In fact, I'd be lying if I said that I'm 100 percent, completely over my breakup, because I'm not. You can't get over a 4-year relationship in just a few months, especially when you really were in love.  

But, I'm getting there, and I'm coping with the sting of heart break in a way that makes me happy, instead of getting drunk and diving into dysfunctional rebound relationships. I'm healing in an honest and positive way — and it's all thanks to pretty Korean guys and girls in flashy clothing, singing lyrics that I still have to look up the translations for. 

So, thanks K-pop for making me want to get up dance again. 

P.S. Here’s a little K-pop awesomeness for you (You know you’re curious):




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