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In my opinion this is not a „Must“. A lot of fans do want to learn the names of their idols. But i still think you are not less of a fan if you choose not to learn the names (and everything about them basically) as long as you support their content and their message.
I like to learn the names to show my appreciation for each and every member in the group plus it makes fangirling so much easier. You can’t just say, that you are rooting for the guy with red hair because hair colors in Kpop change faster than i can blink. For us international fans it is a tiny bit harder to get their names right, because let’s be honest, most of the names aren’t names we are very familiar with, especially for new Kpoppies. The longer you are living in this universe the easier it gets.
I usually start with reacting to a MV of a group i am not yet familiar with but got drawn to. That recently happened with Up10tion when they released „Blue Rose“ so i am gonna share my tips using Up10tion as an example.
After seeing a MV or some other source of new inspiration i go check google. I prefer to use a site called kprofiles.com. They have profiles of almost each and every group existing. For each member they collect the basic infos like: Stage name, real name, age, position and so on plus some additional facts.
I like to take some notes because writing down helps me a lot. So i take my little Kpop Journal and put in the facts that seem most important to me:
I am gonna keep that journal next to me when i start binge watching the content of a group and try to write down thing i notice about each member.
After i prepared that i take to youtube, there are a lot of very helpful fan-made videos, that talk about the habits and specialties of the members. Most of the time they are called „An (un)helpful guide of *insert any group name*“. At this point i like to thank each and every dedicated fan, who makes the entry to a new fandom so much easier.
After getting a bit of a overview who the members are and what kind of names there are i start watching variety shows, preferably ASC (After School Club) because they are nice enough to put the names in romanized versions on the name tags. I can read the Korean names but it is still much easier with the romanized version.
I watch variety shows because i think you get a good glimpse of the individual personalities there. Or you can make out some more physical attribution that separates members from each other. Also they are very much fun most of the time. Best thing is if you have recent and older variety shows available because it is so easy to use hairstyle and colors as recognition points but that doesn’t count in Kpop, they change way too fast.
If you feel secure enough go ahead and start the real stalking by watching every MV out there, find them on vlive and try actively to name the members but be honest with yourself, if you’re not sure make a note and research.
And last thing, do not get frustrated. I usually can name 3-4 members very quickly and i usually have 2 members i just cant get right ever. For example it took my forever to recognize Hongseok and Yeo One from Pentagon.
Do any of you have some more tips? Please share