BOOK REVIEW: Y/N – Esther Yi

BOOK REVIEW: Y/N - Esther Yi

K-Pop has reached an international audience. This year, BLACKPINK made history as the first K-pop band to headline a major UK festival at Hyde Park. The media’s coverage of BTS member’s enlistment into compulsory military service in South Korea is comparable to Elvis Presley’s 1958 military draft.

Y/N, meaning “Your Name”, is a detailed exploration of fan-fiction, obsession and compulsion with band member Moon of an unnamed K-Pop band. The Korean-American woman who tells the story reveals how obsession goes beyond posters filling empty crevices of wall space, signed memorabilia and selfies.

From a musicology point of view, Y/N fails to discuss the lyrics or arrangements of the songs of this fictional five-piece K-Pop group, who are so popular they once caused a power outage across an entire Pacific Island. Band choreography only describes the feelings and screams fans produce upon witnessing the boys moving in unison. The narrator’s unhealthy obsession was not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ironically, they declined tickets to see the band when first offered. Furthermore, with all five band members wearing black, the journey into the narrator honing in on Moon is intriguing. Moon was not even the lead who took centre stage.

Interestingly, Moon is not attributed to divine or heroic attributes. Moon’s vulnerabilities draw fans like the narrator to him. There are hints that Moon has a body dysmorphic disorder owing to wearing shirts down to his knees to conceal his actual body shape. Despite the number of Moon online forums where fans or “livers” can unite and discuss their admiration of their pop hero, the narrator feels little solidarity with other “livers” but is nonetheless frustrated that her friends cannot understand her newfound obsession with Moon.

The psychology of fandom has stepped up several notches with Y/N. Moon is more than a love interest and sex symbol. One fan fantasises that they gave birth to Moon when they were 19 and were forced to give him up for adoption. Many female fans refer to Moon as “sister”. For others, Moon is beyond humans with a neck like a “Rubin glass”. The offbeat oddities of fandom reach a new high when Moon retires from the band that sees the narrator travel to South Korea in search of Moon, or at least a concept of Moon.

Music fans will lament the lack of detail about music and the music industry that recent releases like Sophomore Songs do so well. Nonetheless, the absence of details about the K-Pop music industry is compensated with Y/N’s imaginative, inventive and eccentric ventures into philosophy and search for purpose that will keep the reader consistently drawn to this book.


Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 340 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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