Korean heartthrob Go Tae-seob, aka Holland, is known by many as “the first gay K-pop idol.” Following his much-praised debut in January of last year, Holland released his first song of 2019 “Nar_C,” along with a super gay music video and self-titled EP.
For those of you who aren’t deeply invested in the world of Korean pop music, or k-pop, all you need to know is that K-pop is on a whole other level. The genre, having grown immensely since the mid-90s, has amassed a level of subcultural fandom that goes way beyond Western music trends. The biggest thing that sets K-pop apart is that the most successful music groups are essentially manufactured in an idol laboratory. South Korean entertainment agencies develop group talent through meticulous, binding contracts, often boarding the group up together for hours a day, often at a young age, and essentially training them on how to be pop stars with music, dance, and foreign language skills.
Holland’s debut video “Neverland,” which was also very gay, racked up 1 million views in less than 24 hours. The video received a 19+ rating in South Korea for its queer content, despite the video being fairly tame in all other respects.
Holland is unique in the K-pop world in that he has no major agency behind him the way other major K-pop celebrities do. His debut put his sexuality on the forefront, which was poignant given the taboo around LGBTQ+ representation in his country. This EP was crowdfunded, receiving $40,000 in the first 24 hours.
His video “Nar_C” depicts a devastating gay breakup. “There was a boy who fell in love. The boy’s name was Holland, and the boy he loved was Jaeseok,” read Holland’s Instagram story about the music video. According to the the promo, the story follows these two lovers who lived together for two years despite their personalities being a bit at odds. After a while, the two developed a toxic relationship until finally one of them left.
Watch the full video here.