They say in life it’s the journey that matters, not the destination. What you learn along the way and how you change is what is most important. In a touching message for her 22nd birthday, Sooyoung referred to being a fan of Girls’ Generation as going for a ride on the “Soshi Express”, a journey being taken by more and more people every day. This is the story of how I boarded that train and became a SONE.

In the Fall of 2010, I was pretty big into playing Starcraft 2. I watched videos of the pros playing on YouTube and was getting excited for the first Korean pro tournament, the Global Starcraft League. I didn’t know much about Korea, but I was aware of the near-national-sport status Starcraft held there, so I wanted to see the start of the pro Starcraft 2 scene.

I tuned in, and before the tournament started, some music videos were being shown. “What the heck is this?” I said as I watched I don’t know how many identical girls doing some kind of arrow-shooting dance. I was confused. Why were there so many of them? Who is that girl with the big gorgeous eyes in the elevator? People watching the tournament on (the main community for Starcraft) told me, “Oh that’s Girls’ Generation. They are huge.”

Then another video played, showing some cutesy girl playing around with a giant marshmallow. It turned out that cutesy girl was IU, and she was the announcer for the players in the tournament. People were telling me that she had an incredible voice, so over the next few days I started checking out who this IU person was on YouTube.

I saw the video above and was immediately hooked. She had such a great voice, and she played the guitar. Even that goofy MC was smitten. It was perfect. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, but I wanted to hear more. It wasn’t until much later that I found out these songs were all covers.

At the same time, I kept seeing that “Hoot” music video before the GSL. It was growing in my brain like a virus, that arrow dance replaying over and over. It was so catchy. How can choreography of all things be addicting? To YouTube! I kept replaying that music video over and over because I needed to figure out who was who. I found out the girl with the big eyes was called Sooyoung first. Then there was this ridiculously pretty girl with the white fluffy hat, Seohyun. But I kept mistaking this other one, Yoona she was called, for that Seohyun girl. Were they sisters? Then there was one, the one with the voice. Wow she could sing. A friendly YouTube commenter pointed out that that particular member was Taeyeon.

I guess they do this stuff live too, huh? I was in awe with this video. Their outfits, their dancing, their singing, everything was so in sync, something I hadn’t really ever seen before. I couldn’t get enough of Taeyeon though. I needed to find out more.

I discovered these two videos and must have replayed them hundreds of times. She was beautiful, and her pristine voice captivated me. It was also my first exposure to some of Taeyeon’s off-stage personality, including her legendary ahjumma laugh that I would continue to find so endearing. Kangin’s genuine adoration of Taeyeon and how he was almost speechless that she just sang so beautifully with no preparation mirrored my own reaction. This girl was something special.

Apart from the few Taeyeon videos and “Hoot”, I was still watching almost nothing but IU. And then something happened. I was watching that acoustic IU video from “Sketchbook” where she played that “Gee” song. I had always thought it was quite good, but one day, months after I had first seen it, someone said to me, “Hey, you know that’s Girls’ Generation’s song right?” Brain explosion. I immediately YouTubed “Girls’ Generation – Gee”. My God…I watched it, and to be honest, right after the video ended I kind of just sat there blankly staring at the screen, like “that was very different from that acoustic ‘Gee’ song I’ve been listening to…” But then I played it again. And then a few more times. And the next day I was humming the melody to myself all day long. I started looking up more of their songs: “Run Devil Run”, “Into The New World”, “Girls’ Generation”, “Kissing You”. They were all so good. These girls were awesome.

But then…I found “Genie”. The legs. The song. The Seohyun popping out of the cake. It. Was. Glorious. These incredibly gorgeous marine girls were marching their way into my life, and I was powerless to stop them. When Tiffany said to “put it back on”, I respectfully obliged and pressed the replay button.

At this point I stumbled on clips from television shows these girls appeared on, compilations of cute and funny moments that introduced me to this brand new concept called “aegyo”. I would watch clips of that Sunny girl acting ridiculously cute, and for some instinctual reason, it made me laugh and smile. I think men are pre-programmed to enjoy this.

I noticed these videos all had these pink subtitles in them: Soshisubs from some website called Like finding an oasis in the desert, I registered and was met with more Girls’ Generation content than I could believe: pictures and videos everywhere. A lot of the clips I had seen were from a show called “Hello Baby”, so I started to watch the series from the first episode. I don’t even like babies, but those nine girls were so entertaining I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Yoona and Yuri, whom I still thought were the same person, seemed like the best of friends, and I immediately latched onto their hilariously tragic story of bonding over not getting to hold the baby. Poor Tiffany had such a big heart but no way to show it. Jessica’s strange fear of cucumbers made me laugh. It was such an interesting show. I enjoyed these girls, but not really much more than as entertainment and good music. That all changed when I finished the next show of theirs I watched, “Girls Go to School”.

If there is one thing every SONE needs to see, it is “Girls Go to School”. After their “School of Rock” performance in the heat, with the girls all sweaty and exhausted but exhilarated nonetheless, Jessica collapsed in a heap, so tired from literally giving everything she had on stage. It was at that moment that I became more than just a casual observer. It was at that moment I became a fan of Girls’ Generation.

It was around this time that I realized I was getting more and more into Korean culture in general and not just the music. Girls’ Generation had opened a door into a world I didn’t even know existed. I had always thought of myself as fairly open-minded, but as I watched more and more Korean TV, I realized the only thing I had actually known about the country was that my Great-Aunt fought in the Korean War and Samsung and Hyundai were Korean. I acquired Rosetta Stone Korean and began teaching myself the language, doing the lessons for about an hour a day. I learned how to cook a few Korean dishes. The first Korean food I ever ate was bibimbap that I made for myself (I later had it in a Korean restaurant, and I did a pretty good job for my first try!). I even took a crack at naengmyun after hearing Jessica loved it, and it’s now my favorite Korean dish.

One of the major reasons for my newfound interest in Korea was “Invincible Youth”. Korean variety shows are so different from American TV, and I was fascinated by them. I loved how the idols actually worked on the farm. I loved how they bonded with each other. Because of G7, I started listening to so many other artists. I found T-ara’s incredible “Absolute First Album” because of Hyomin. I started liking Secret, Kara, Brown Eyed Girls, all of them. I went from Girls’ Generation and IU to all current K-Pop artists because of that one show. However, Girls’ Generation was too special to be dethroned from being my favorite. The moment Yuri and Sunny left “Invincible Youth” was legitimately sad. From Sunny holding back her tears until the show wrapped but then breaking down at the very end, to Wanggu saying goodbye to Yuri as she wept, everything was so emotional because something truly special had been created with those girls and that village.

I wanted to go to Korea. I needed to see this place with my own eyes. I wanted to be engulfed by the language and the food and hearing Korean music as I walked the streets. There was a K-Pop contest for Americans, held in Los Angeles by the Korean Cultural Center in partnership with KBS World. Audition for a chance to be in the finals and perform on stage for a television show. The grand prize: a plane ticket to Korea and a seat in the audience at “Music Bank”. I was a rather shy person. Could I do it? Could I actually get on a stage in front of hundreds of people? I created an acoustic arrangement of “Into The New World”, a song fitting for my quest to go East, and auditioned. I made it to the finals, got into my car, and drove to LA. All the other contestants sang to back tracks, but I got up on that stage with nothing but my guitar. The MC asked who my favorite member of Girls’ Generation was. “Sunny, because she can catch chickens.” The crowd laughed. I was nervous, but I tried my best. Afterwards some audience members came up to me and said they really enjoyed my version of the song. I didn’t win, but as I drove home, I thought to myself, “What if the plane ticket wasn’t the real prize?” Because of Girls’ Generation, I gathered the courage to sing and play the guitar in front of a theater full of people, something I could not have done before. Something in me had changed. No longer was I afraid of the unknown. When I got home, I took a leap of faith and signed up for the Soshified field trip to Korea.

The Soshified trip to Korea was one of those rare life-changing experiences. Meeting SONEs was amazing. Seeing Girls’ Generation live was amazing. I went to Korea as a stranger to everyone but came away with friends whom I still speak to every day. I had thought I loved Girls’ Generation before, but seeing them in person raised the bar. You think you love them, but then you see Tiffany point directly at you and wink, and everything else that exists in the world just disappears. You think you love them, but then you see Sooyoung look you dead in the eye and say in English, “Thank you for coming”, and you realize that you might not know just how much you actually love these girls. When they lined up for “Into The New World” and everyone started singing along, I was in a moment of the most pure form of happiness. I was watching the personification of my own journey into a new world. I returned from Korea knowing that I would support these nine girls as long as I possibly could.

Since then I have become a writer for Soshified in order to contribute to the fandom that had given me so much. Because of Soshified, I was able to have one of the most important experiences of my entire life, and I had to give back. Through Girls’ Generation I have been able rekindle my love of writing that I had long since abandoned.

I’ve been to SM Town NYC and got to see the girls up close at the fanmeet. I went back to NYC and got to support the girls at “Live With Kelly” for their American debut and met the members (minus Jessica unfortunately) at the fansigning.

Through all of this, as amazing as meeting Girls’ Generation is, the fact that I could share all these incredible times with friends I met in Korea was even more special. SONEs are a large family, sometimes dysfunctional, but a family nonetheless. People on the outside looking in won’t understand, but when you see Tiffany taking pictures of the fans taking pictures of her, you know that there is a special bond between SONEs and Girls’ Generation, a bond that transcends languages and borders.

All of these experiences have in some way made me a better person than I was before I knew about Girls’ Generation. I might be much poorer from spending so much money, but I am undoubtedly richer for having experienced it all. SMTown LA has just been announced. It’s another opportunity to see the girls, another opportunity be with SONEs, and another opportunity to experience something new. It’s the next stop on the Soshi Express, and there’s no getting off this train. See you all in California and wherever else this journey takes me.


Disclaimer: Views expressed are solely those of the author and are not representative of the Soshified community as a whole

Written by: MoonSoshi9@soshified
Edited by: bhost909@soshified, residentbenchwarmer@soshified
Photos and Videos by: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected][email protected], Mnet, KBS, typ@soshifed,, SM Entertainment

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