Seoul’d Out: Where K-Pop Becomes Community at UCSB

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Illustration by Alyssa Long

Sheila Tran
Senior Copy Editor

A visit to a Seoul’d Out meeting will reveal an unusual sight among most campus clubs at this time of the year — staff members who greet every single general member by name.

Founded in 2011, Seoul’d Out is UCSB’s first Korean music and pop culture club. Through both larger general meetings and more intimate weekly gatherings, the club offers a unique and comfortable environment for students to connect with others over a shared love for Korean pop culture. In an interview with The Bottom Line, President Yehna Cha describes the club’s focus as “both cultural and social,” with weekly events catered towards helping members bond and make new friends.

The club hosts a variety of events, which include general meetings where members can play K-pop-related games and enter raffles to win K-pop albums, participate in Korean movie nights, and even non-K-pop-related events like ice skating.

While K-pop is the main focus of Seoul’d Out, its reach expands far beyond pop music. The club also aims to educate members on other facets of Korean culture through events where members can learn how to make Korean food, participate in Korean art forms like jongi jeobgi (Korean origami), and even learn the Korean alphabet.

Cha shares that many members come in with a limited knowledge of K-pop, but stay because of the warm environment and interest in the cultural aspect of the club. “They want to learn more — not just about K-pop, but also Korean culture — and that’s what makes me really happy.” As a Korean-American, Cha believes her role in the club is to share her love and knowledge of Korean culture. 

What makes Seoul’d Out special, says Event Coordinator Jessica Velazquez Nolazco, is its community. 

“I feel like when people, especially non-Koreans, first get into K-pop, they’re kind of ashamed of it,” says Nolazco in an interview with The Bottom Line. “They’re embarrassed to say that they like K-pop.” Although she was never embarrassed of liking K-pop, Nolazco admits that there were times during high school when it made her feel out of place. Upon entering college, she was unsure if there was a place on campus for her.

That all changed when she attended her first Seoul’d Out meeting. The club provides an open environment where members can feel comfortable with sharing their interests, regardless of their background or prior knowledge about the genre. Seoul’d Out’s demographic spans students of all ethnicities and ages — the recent Korean alphabet workshop even attracted two Ph.D students. 

“You don’t have to be Korean to feel like you’re part of this club,” Nolazco adds.

For Nolazco, K-pop became a source of comfort and support. “I was going through a hard time when I found BTS,” she says, and shares that she was able to find strength through the positive messages in the group’s music. More than anything, though, K-pop also served as her link to a larger community.

“I feel like I would be completely lost if I didn’t find Seoul’d Out. It’s like … I found my people. I can rely on these people more than just K-pop — as friends and as family.” 

That sentiment is shared by many members of Seoul’d Out. “Through Korean pop culture, I was able to make friends, find a hobby, and form bonds,” says Cha. She shares that K-pop became an integral part of her identity and understanding of community.

For Seoul’d Out members, K-pop is more than just a music genre. It’s a means of support, hope, identity, and friendship. It’s a link to a greater appreciation of Korean culture. More than anything, Seoul’d Out is a place where K-pop can become community.

“It’s a second home,” Cha says. “You don’t need to know K-pop. To anyone who has an interest in Korean pop culture or anything Korean, we’re always welcoming new members.”

Keep up with Seoul’d Out on Facebook and Instagram: 

facebook.com/seouldout

instagram.com/seouldoutsb

Sheila Tran
Sheila Tran is a fourth year Writing & Literature major who enjoys copy editing, indie music, and banh mi.

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