K-Pop is everywhere right now. That’s not news. From BTS to Blackpink to EXO to Girls’ Generation, we’re hearing more and more music from artists in South Korea. Honestly, I’m excited that so many people are embracing Korean pop music because it shows that even if the song isn’t in your language, you can fall in love with its sound and discover its meaning. It could be a song that really grows to be something special for you.
This list of Future Reads will focus on upcoming young adult fiction books that feature the K-Pop industry and its idols. I’ll also share a song with each book.
Title: I’ll Be the One
Author: Lyla Lee
What It’s About: Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.
She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.
When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame, and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.
But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.
Why I am Excited: Debut authors have really been stunning the heck out of me lately and this book is no exception. Being a fat girl myself, I can’t wait to read about Skye and how she’ll challenge the KPop industry and its beauty standards. I’m rooting for her with all I’ve got.
The song is “Blueming” by IU
Author: Jessica Jung
What It’s About: What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?
For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?
Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.
Get ready as Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Korea’s most famous girl group, Girls Generation, takes us inside the luxe, hyper-color world of K-pop, where the stakes are high, but for one girl, the cost of success—and love—might be even higher. It’s time for the world to see: this is what it takes to SHINE.
Why I am Excited: The author, as many will know, was a former member of Girls’ Generation. She was really one of the group’s shining stars so I am looking forward to seeing what her writing style is like and what kind of story she will choose to write. She lived that idol life and while so many kpop listeners know some of what goes on in the industry, it’ll be intriguing to see what she reveals.
The song is “Stay Tonight” by CHUNG HA
Title: K-Pop Confidential
Author: Stephan Lee
What It’s About: Candace Park’s life is all planned out. She takes all AP classes, helps her parents at their dry cleaner, and spends what little free time she has watching Rupaul’s Drag Race. Then there’s graduation, college, and a “Real Job.” What her parents and friends don’t really know, though, is that she has a secret passion: singing. But what’s the point? She’s never seen an Asian-American girl make it big as a singer-songwriter anyway.
So when Candace enters a K-pop audition at the mall on a dare, she doesn’t expect to actually win. She definitely doesn’t expect to plunge headfirst into the grueling world of a K-pop trainee. Especially when her parents don’t approve of it…at all.
But when they offer her the chance to travel to Seoul, South Korea to train at the top Korean music company in the world, how can she pass it up? The only problem is, in addition to the round-the-clock singing lessons, dance rehearsals, and beauty treatments, Candance has to agree to follow the uber-strict rules of a trainee. The most important of which is: NO DATING. But it becomes pretty much impossible to follow when Candace finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between a sweet boy trainee and a superstar member of the hottest boyband in the world.
Will all of her hard work be wasted if she follows her heart? Or can she be the perfect, hair-flipping idol and stay true to herself at the same time?
Why I am Excited: The cover for this book is beyond beautiful. That’s what drew me in at first glance. I’m also loving that the main character is going out there and chasing her dreams. I want to see her journey through the K-Pop industry, how that changes her and what she ultimately decides is best for her. I also want to see how Stephan Lee’s story will set itself apart from the other K-Pop themed novels coming out. The author has made it clear through interviews that their intention is to celebrate the talent of these artists but also draw attention to how intense the pressure is.
The song is “DDU-DU DDU-DU” by Blackpink
Each author really has their own story to tell with their upcoming novels and I can’t wait to read them all.
I also look forward to more novels about the K-Pop industry. There are so many different stories to tell that explore other themes and other perspectives too. They’re just waiting to be told and there are readers eager and ready to read them.
The song is “Really Bad Boy” by Red Velvet
Update: I have changed the songs around so as to breathe a breath of fresh air into this post. I will list the old song recommendations here.
- “Hello Tutorial” by Zion. T (featuring Seulgi of Red Velvet)
- “Don’t Recall” by KARD
- “Feel Special” by TWICE
- “I Just Wanna Dance” by Tiffany