Miscellaneous

Baliktanaw: Thank You, Gfriend

Gfriend is no more. I’m sad and wanted to get things off my chest, so I tried to compile them into a blog post. However, I decided to turn it into a video instead because it can show so much more than just words and pictures. You can watch the video here, or click read more to see the transcript and the video sources I used.

Below is the transcript of the video or if you wish to just read it instead. But the video has visuals and clips that help explain my point better. I also included some of my favorite moments from the girls. This was my first video project that actually took multiple days to make, so forgive me if I made some mistakes.


Transcript:

“If you could travel back in time to tell your younger self something, what would you say?”

It’s a question that you’ve probably heard lots of times already. A simple mental exercise in self-reflection or a desire to undo some mistakes you’ve done in the past. I don’t think I have a specific time in my life that I wanted to change, so aside from general advice like be nicer to people or avoid posting cringe on Facebook, I never really had a strong message I had to give to my past self.

But now, in light of current events, if there was something I wish I could’ve told my past self, it would be two simple words: “Support Gfriend.”

Gfriend is a six-member K-pop girl group formed by Source Music in 2015. They consist of the leader Sowon, my bias Yerin, one of the cutest humans ever Eunha, the 3rd generation main vocal Yuju, sweet but psycho SinB, and the sweetest maknae Umji. They debuted on January 16, 2015, with Glass Bead, and garnered lots of accolades ever since; from Best New Female Artist to multiple Daesang awards. They’re lauded as the Queens of Synchronization for their sharp dancing and they pioneered the 2x speed random dance on Weekly Idol. Gfriend stands on the top of K-pop’s 3rd generation alongside Twice, Red Velvet, Blackpink, and Mamamoo.

Unfortunately, as of the making of this video, Gfriend is no more.

On May 18th, 2021, from out of nowhere, Source Music announced that all 6 members have decided not to renew their contract with the agency. The entire Buddy fandom was in an uproar. Twitter exploded. What was happening? Is this a disbandment announcement? No, the D-word was never mentioned! But then what?

And finally, a day after, May 19th, the girls posted on their official WeVerse accounts. Handwritten letters to Buddies. It was official. Gfriend was no more.

So what does this have to do with my opening spiel? Let me give you a little context.

It was sometime in June 2020, the pandemic had most of us staying at home and without the gym or the outdoors, I found an interest in K-pop. K-pop girl groups to be more specific. At the time I was already bouncing around groups like Blackpink, Red Velvet, and Twice. I was just watching some random videos when I saw Twice dance to this specific song. It started with a cute piano sound and suddenly introduced an electric guitar. Well, that’s new. After watching the entire video, I had to check on the original version. I went down the Me Gustas Tu rabbit hole. I watched the video where an entire arena of people from different fandoms was singing to it. And most importantly, I watched the video of the school teacher dancing to it with the members. It was there that I first noticed Yerin. I even watched the painful video of them slipping and falling to it.

This group now had my full attention. But I can’t become a fan of a group from just one song, right? So I watched their debut song, Glass Bead. Specifically the video of them dancing on a volleyball court during a team’s warm-up session. There they were, performing their hearts out with no one taking notice. You see, Source Music isn’t a big company, to debut Gfriend, the founder had to remortgage his house for money. On their debut stage, they didn’t have any flashy outfits. There was nothing big-budget about them. They literally started from nothing.

My first impression of them was: Wow, these girls have strong legs.
My next impression? Their choreography (especially their footwork) is no joke! I didn’t notice it before, but that’s because it’s deceptively simple, making you think that it’s easy to do. But these girls do it with precision and sharpness that if you don’t do it properly, you look like a fool. And their synchronization and positioning with each other make even the most subtle movements pop. Weirdly enough, I would liken them to the Jabbawockeez with the way their dance almost looks hypnotic. I’m hardly the most qualified person to critique a dance, but from an untrained eye, they’re so mesmerizing to watch.

Are they really this good every time? I asked myself. After doing some research, I heard that “Rough” was their best song and won them the most awards. So of course I had to check it out. Still the same amazing footwork. Still the same impressive vocals. Still the same powerful instrumental. With a bonus flying shoe. Love it!

What’s next? Navillera. Are you kidding me? Just from the intro, I can already tell that this is gonna be good. There I was, liking them more with every song. Dancing on water with Love Whisper, Eunha’s high note in Sunrise. Even their B-sides are gold. Have you heard of the anime opening Water Flower? Or how about Rainbow? These are just a few of my favorites. Whatever your mood is, they have a song for it.

I also learned more about them from all the videos I watched. You see, Gfriend is more than just their songs, it’s their bond that makes them who they are. They’re one of the few groups where I can feel a complete synergy with all the members. Put any two members together and they’ll still have a completely good time. You always hear of some idols treating their relationship with other members as “purely business” but that’s simply nowhere to be found in this group. They want to stay together for a long, long time.

Which makes the disbandment hurt even more. As of now, there has been no additional statement from the girls, Source Music, or its father company, HYBE. This was an unprecedented way to end one of the world’s most beloved groups.

So do you see my dilemma now? Gfriend started in 2015. I became a fan in 2020. They disbanded in 2021.

Gfriend had two concerts in the Philippines. One in 2018 and another in 2019. I passed by a huge poster of the 2019 concert every day when I was commuting to work. I never even gave it a 2nd look. I didn’t care who they were back then. I didn’t listen to K-pop. Whatever.

Do you see how devastated I am? How it feels to miss out on two concerts right under my nose; and then realizing that I’ll never get the chance to see them live again? This entire time during the pandemic, I was saving up for a day when it’s safe for them to return. I didn’t care how much a VIP ticket would cost, I was willing to sell my kidney for them. And then they disband on such short notice like this?

Almost lost myself there. Now, you might be thinking, Jai, why are you getting so worked up over a K-pop group you haven’t even known for a year? Don’t worry, I’ve been asking myself the same thing since the bad news came.

Bear with me because this is going to be cheesy. I’m sure during this pandemic, everyone has found solace in something. Be it a new hobby like collecting plants, or making ube pandesal and dalgona coffee, we’ve found some way to cope with the hard times we’re going through. Let’s be honest, the world isn’t in its best state currently, and things don’t seem to be changing for the better. The important thing right now is to survive, to live through this. Things will get better and to make sure we’re there when they do, we need to value every piece of joy we can. To serve as a temporary distraction from the harshness of reality. Take note, temporary.

Gfriend just happened to be mine. Sure, I’ve also gotten into making YouTube videos and returned to gaming, but I always come back to Gfriend. I listen to their songs all day, I await all their content with anticipation, and I even bought some of their merch. What else can I say, impact is impact, and time isn’t that important of a factor when it comes to finding something that touches you on a deep level.

And that is why my answer to such a deep, philosophical question is simply “I will go back in time to tell my younger self to support a K-pop group.” How blessed I am to have lived in such a way that my deepest regret is not knowing about Gfriend earlier. LMAO.

It is bittersweet. The paradox that if the pandemic never came, I would’ve never even found out about them. But because of the pandemic, I got to know this group that I will never see again. But as Umji said,

“I know this will come to an end. This will end someday but we’ll also have created so many memories. Even if this ends I don’t think these memories will disappear.”

She’s right. One of the few perks of being a new fan is that there is a treasure trove of content to get into. I’m finding solace in knowing that I still have a lot of backlogs to dive into. It just hurts knowing that we won’t be getting anything new anymore.

But, thank you, Gfriend, for the memories that I will always treasure. Yes, it was only a short time that I knew you, but I did my best to catch up. Thank you for all the laughs. Thank you for the wonderful performances and songs. Thank you for sharing with us your wonderful bond. For now, the future is uncertain, but we know you will continue to shine no matter the name. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you at the start, but I don’t regret staying with you until the end. This has been a Buddy-for-less-than-a-year. Thank you for your hard work.


If you’re still here, thank you so much. This entire thing has been a long time coming. I’ve always wanted to express my love for this group in one way or another. It’s terribly ironic that I finally get the chance to do it because they disbanded.

But in a way, this project that took me multiple days to finish actually helped in coping with the entire situation. It hurt to re-watch all my favorite moments, but it did serve as a form of catharsis. It helped me focus on something aside from the negative emotions and I really wanted to show what Gfriend offered. Their songs really gave me that extra push in life and if just one of you decides to listen to them because of this video (or post), then it would’ve been worth it.

I’d like to say thanks to the Buddies over at the Gfriend Discord server. It felt good being able to talk to people in the same situation. I know only a few people IRL who even knew about Gfriend so finding an entire community in the same boat helped a lot in managing my feelings. From the OG Buddies to the new ones just discovering the group, all their opinions kept me grounded amidst the confusion that was happening.

There will never be another group like Gfriend. This is my short and lacking tribute to them. They have offered so much to K-pop that I wouldn’t be able to finish anything if I included them all. Thank you to all the Buddies before me who have compiled their content into something easier to digest. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants here.

Thank you, Kim Sojung.
Thank you, Jung Yerin.
Thank you, Jung Eunbi.
Thank you, Choi Yuna.
Thank you, Hwang Eunbi.
Thank you, Kim Yewon.

Thank you for holding our hands in this cruel world.

-jgzn

Video Footage Used

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