[Exclusive] Interview: 20 Questions with YouTube's Jihoons Carat

 "I talk about K-pop a lot . . ."

This week, I got the opportunity to interview yet another K-pop YouTube commentator. Another success story in the K-pop commentary world, they have almost 15,000 subscribers, and more than 2,500,000 view across their videos. Their video series Why I'm Worried About . . . and other long-form video essays have grown to become incredibly popular amongst the fandom and other YouTube creators alike (see our interview with Midnight Theories from last week).

Today, we talk with Sun, more popularly known as Jihoons Carat from YouTube, in an exclusive interview discussing why they feel some smaller and "nugu" groups don't grow to the heights of other more popular groups, how the video essay grew to become a popular form of entertainment for the K-pop community, and why they chose to focus their content on these less successful groups.

To start off with, I want to say thank you for taking the time to go through this interview with us! I've found many of your videos to be of great interest, bringing to my attention many groups I would never have heard of otherwise. Would you like to start by introducing yourself and discussing a little bit about your channel to any readers who may not have heard about you or your work before?

Thank you so much as well. Well, my name is Sun, but my channel name is Jihoons Carat. I originally started as a haul channel but I found a lot of passion in making videos about the industry and sadly how horrible it can be. I make videos on smaller groups a lot, in the hopes of bringing attention to them, and I also make videos about companies that treat their groups badly. I feel like fans should know about the companies and just a bit about the truth about K-pop, so I try to educate fans.

To begin, I thought we might cover a few quick-fire questions to get to know you a little better. So, who is your favourite K-pop group or soloist, and why?

My favourite artists would have to be Seventeen and SHINee. They both have such amazing discographies and they never fail to amaze me, whether that is song-wise, stage-wise, or just in general.

SEVENTEEN Confirmed To Make Fall Comeback | Soompi

Which K-pop group or soloist do you think is underrated or underappreciated by K-pop stans?

I could honestly sit here all day counting out examples but I think a group I would love to see get more recognition in the K-pop community is Pink Fantasy. From their interesting sound, to the fun concept, Pink Fantasy is just such a fun group.

Song Review: Pink Fantasy – Fantasy | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews &  Discussion

What is your earliest K-pop memory, and how did you get into the K-pop fandom to begin with?

My earliest memory was back in 2009 when I was browsing YouTube and "Gee" by Girls' Generation came up on my recommended page or something like that. I clicked the video and from there I just started exploring and got more songs recommended to me. The first group I actually like, fell in love with and became a fan of was SHINee. Back then, I didn't realise how big this world was, like I thought it was just these random music videos and that was it. I had no clue there were live stages, albums, concerts, and so on. It was a fun world to explore.

If you could sit down to a private dinner with one idol where you could talk about anything you wanted, who would it be and why?

This is a hard one but I think I would have to pick either Hyuna or Jonghyun. Hyuna because she has been in this industry for so long and I feel like she would have so many stories to tell and she seems overall like such a fun person to talk to. Jonghyun because he is my favourite idol and overall has given me so much support and confidence and he continues to inspire me every day, so I would just like to thank him for that.

Hyuna - Wikipedia

And one last quick-fire question: what K-pop song are you currently playing on repeat, and why?

Currently, my new favourite K-pop song is BugABoo's debut track, also called BugABoo.

Thank you for going through those rapid-fire questions with me. Now, it's time to get a little more in-depth with some of the bigger questions. You have managed to amass more than 2,500,000 viewers across your range of videos, including seven videos with more than 100,000 views each. Did you ever expect that your channel would make it to such popularity within the K-pop community, and why do you think that fans connect with the content you make?

I honestly didn't, for me this started as a hobby and I felt like it would be a shame if I didn't share my findings and research. I thought maybe ten people would be interested in my videos, especially since they can be kind of . . . sad I guess is the word? But I do think that fans enjoy this content for the same reason I do, to learn about the industry we love and support. Probably also to find new groups to listen to, since my "Why I'm Worried About . . ." series usually does the best.

Your video series Why I'm Worried About . . . has brought you to massive attention throughout the K-pop community. The most interesting thing about this particular series of videos coming to popularity is that the focus of these videos is on groups who are not incredibly popular, whether they've fallen from fame, been mismanaged into oblivion, or even if they're just what the community considers "nugu" groups. Your decision to focus on smaller groups rather than on larger and more popular groups with significantly larger fanbases is an interesting choice, as groups with larger fandoms would be more easily considered to gather larger numbers of views. What affected your decision-making to choose to cover these smaller groups in the majority of your videos?

I think my first thought was just, no one else is talking about these groups and it's a shame. Most of the groups I talk about in that series I like and have a personal attachment to, so in a way it's my way of trying to promote them. I thought, I have a platform to talk about these groups and their stories, so why wouldn't I? I also think that, as a viewer of K-pop YouTube myself, I would much rather learn about a new group than watch a video that talks about the same five groups over and over again.

A smart choice, really. I'll be honest when I say that I've only heard about a few groups first through seeing your videos on them. ~ Ford

Your videos cover a wide range of topics, from your worries surrounding smaller groups, the discussions of the failures of certain management companies, some K-pop haul videos, to even discussing K-pop stans and your own unpopular K-pop opinions. The regularity with which you cover these topics has changed and moulded over time. What have been some of the major changes in the way that you make your videos and the choices you make regarding the topics you cover over your three years on YouTube?

At first I tried to so what I thought people wanted to see, but over time I've learned that firstly, I myself find enjoyment in making videos about stuff I want to talk about, not what I think the public wants to see or will get clicks. Because in theory I could pump out videos about everything and everyone, but would I be happy? Secondly, I feel like my videos, although often focusing on the sad part of K-pop, are very, very important for K-pop fans who might not know a lot about the industry. I make a lot of these videos to share the bad side, because K-pop sadly isn't just rainbows and butterflies. That doesn't mean that K-pop is bad, but more that we as fans should be aware of what goes on, who we support, and overall be educated on the topic.

The amount of work that goes into researching these smaller and less popular groups must be simply massive, especially considering the severe lack of information regarding some of these groups available on the internet. How much time do you spend researching each video, and what is your script-writing process like?

As you said, there is often a lack of information about these groups, which of course varies. I do research and write my script at the same time, going over the timeline for both the video but also to help myself understand better. It really varies, based on how much I know before I start, but on average writing a script takes about five to ten hours? Of course, I don't do it all in one sitting, as I have a life outside my channel and I work full time. But yeah, the script takes around five to ten hours to complete. However, some videos, like my DIA, CLC, and TS Entertainment videos took a lot longer to make. I think I worked on and off on those scripts for like a week.

The video I'm currently working on, I've been working on the script for like, fifteen hours already and I'm not done with it. For groups that don't have a lot of information, I look at news sites, Korean sources, and often I reach out to fans of the groups, as they can be so much help. I got a lot of help from fans when making my Fanatics video and I think fans are such a great way to get information.

It sounds like the Fanatics fandom, and the fandoms of many smaller and less popular groups, are always opening and accepting of new members. Not only do the fandoms want to grow and help their favourite idols become more popular, but they are genuinely some of the nicest people you will ever get the opportunity to talk to. ~ Ford

While your k-pop haul videos would obviously not require a great deal of attention when it comes to the editing phase, your video essays and intense videos discussing the struggles of groups would require more work. Could you go through a description of the full itinerary regarding making one of your videos from beginning to end for us?

So, I always start with research and scripts. A tip I always tell people about is, when you're doing your script, write down your sources. It not only is good to link them under the video once it is posted, but also helps you work on editing.

When it comes to making the video itself, I always start by going over the script, finding all the photos, videos and other stuff I need for the video. I get all that ready, then record the voice over and then the editing starts.

Editing takes the longest, and even a small ten minute video can take like five hours to edit. I've learned what I like to do and such, but my editing is always evolving and changing so I can never just sit down and be done with super speed. I think editing takes around ten hours for like a thirty minute video, depending on how much editing has to be done, of course.

I edit the video, then watch it from start to finish, making notes on what needs to be fixed. Then, I have to export the video, make a thumbnail, upload the video to YouTube and get it ready to be public. The whole process for a video from start to finish, on average, takes around fifteen hours.

Your videos discussing these less popular groups often lead to an increase in people searching for the groups and listening to their discography in the days following an upload. How do you decide which groups to cover in your videos? And how do you know whether some of the difficulties that these groups face are important enough to feature in a video or whether some of these struggles aren't unique or interesting enough to be covered?

Well, when I started, I just talked about small groups I liked, but since then, viewers have reached out with countless suggestions and often I'll let them vote on my YouTube page. Sometimes I just take a liking to a group and I feel like I HAVE to talk about them. There is no ONE thing that makes me pick a group, and sometimes it can be very hard to choose. I think when it comes to picking which groups are "interesting" enough to cover, nothing is off limits really.

The only times I really think "I don't think it would be interesting to cover" is when a group has literally no known issues and are just underrated or when a group has had, like, one comeback and nothing else. I have to think about: will this be enough to make a video on? There are groups, like Ariaz, for example, that I love but couldn't really talk about because the video would literally be like three minutes long. It doesn't mean the group isn't worth covering.

ARIAZ Members Profile (Updated!)

Some of the smaller on "nugu" groups that you have covered in your Why I'm Worried About . . . series have included Pink Fantasy, DIA, Busters, Elris, Fanatics, Saturday, and Dreamnote. Saturday is personally one of my favourite groups, for which I am constantly trying to convert more fans and find more merchandise for on the internet. What is it about these groups - some of which have been around for several years now - that you think has led to them not reaching their potential, or the heights that other similar groups have managed? In your own opinion, how do you think that some of these groups could overcome these obstacles to become as famous a some of them inevitably deserve to be?

I think in some of these cases, like with DIA, Fanatics and Busters specifically, the company has a huge part in the road the group's careers go down. In other cases, with groups like Pink Fantasy, Elris, DreamNote and Saturday, to a certain extent they sadly are just underrated since the K-pop scene is so competitive. I think in the case with Pink Fantasy and Saturday specifically, member changes can also really mess up a group's potential, as fans often lose interest. I have often said that, yes, groups aren't guaranteed to make it big, but things like a bad company, member changes, or even controversies can really mess up their already low chances. I think with most of these groups, they just need more promotions, which can of course be hard for these smaller groups. But in most cases there are easy fixes to make the group at least have better chances at blowing up.

With the number of K-pop groups debuting each year growing exponentially on an annual basis, there are bound to be more and more groups who fail to hit it big, whether that be either domestically or internationally. How do you feel that this continuing increase in the number of groups competing for attention will impact the South Korean music industry?

I think that on one hand, the reason for the number of debut groups growing is due to the increased interest in the past ten years, which is great. However, on the other hand, more debuts means harsher conditions for all these groups. It's a battle ground for these groups, even the big ones at times. I also think, in my personal opinion, although many groups have debuted this year, most of them were just okay. Most of the debuts, again in my opinion, have just been alright. The industry seems to focus more and more on pushing out new stuff, instead of really putting in a lot of effort. Most groups debut and comeback with singles these days, instead of a mini album or a full album, another sign that the industry is going too fast. Although I think K-pop and it's interest is at a peak right now, if things don't change and just slow down a bit, it might head down again as people lose interest.

Despite only being released last month, your video The IOI Curse has already made waves in the K-pop community. It's now already your most popular video, as well, surpassing your previously most-watched video Why I'm Worried About Pink Fantasy only days ago. I would see this video as a second coming of your channel, bound to bring you more subscribers and followers in a turning point for your content. But this video must also have taken an immense amount of research and work to cover. Like the other increasingly popular feature-length video essays being produced by YouTube content creators, The IOI Curse runs at almost an hour and a quarter in length. How much work did creating this video require, and did it's length become a worry during the creative process?

A lot of work went into that video, and I will admit at points I was very worried that it wouldn't do well or that people would not be interest in it due to its length. I even thought about splitting it up, but I felt like splitting it up would be hard, and overall ruin the flow of the video. With long videos like these, I am very proud but at the same time very tired, and I was going to take a small break until those plans changed. I feel like a lot of my viewers like the longer videos as a lot of them have told me they like to play them and do their daily tasks. So, overall, these longer videos are a lot of work but so worth it.

Still on the topic of the rise of the feature-length video essay in the K-pop community, several of your most popular videos, including The IOI Curse, MOMOLAND: Victims of Success, PLEDIS Entertainment: The Company That Can't Do Their Job, and CLC: Unsuccessful OR Mismanaged come in at or over the forty-five minute mark. What do you think it is about these video and their content that resonates with audiences and pulls them in, and why do you choose to keep these videos as one lengthier piece of work rather than splitting them into multiple parts?

In my own life, I enjoy longer videos. If the topic is interesting and well explained, I don't mind how long the video is. As I said, many people use these longer types of videos as "background" noise, so a longer video is often a perk. I also think that in a lot of cases people will think that a longer video equals more information. Some want a quick, bite-sized video, while others want a video with as much information as possible. I think when it comes to splitting into parts, it can be hard to pick a good spot to split videos. Sometimes, people get impatient for another part and find the information themselves, or sometimes they aren't subscribed and just want to see this one topic and be done. Although there are perks to splitting up a video, there are also cons to it.

Based on the studies and research that you have done into smaller, less successful, and thoroughly mismanaged K-pop groups, who do you think is the single most mismanaged K-pop group around? And what is it about their mismanagement that makes them stick in your mind?

Well, there are a few that pop into my mind, but most of them, like The East Light, have escaped the horrors of the company. I think out of the groups I know of and are active, Busters is a group I am very concerned about. The company is known for over-sexualising the members in general, but it makes me more upset that the girls in the new line up for the redebut of Busters are all underage. The company is actively allowing fans to sexualise the members, pushing under the unhealthy idea that these idols are there for their own enjoyment. There is a reason why I've made two videos about this group.

With dozens of videos covering a wide range of topics from underrated groups to mismanaging companies, and from groups that got second chances to your two-part video on the K-pop iceberg, there is sure to be something on your channel for almost any K-pop stan to watch. You must also have had some rather interesting experiences when making these videos as well. Do you have a personal favourite video of your own that sticks out in your mind? And, what would you consider to be the most interesting or exciting experience that you have had during your time making these videos?

Most of my videos were overall very fun to make. I had a very good experience with my Fanatics video, as I reached out to some fans and they literally greeted me with open arms, and I'm still in their group chat to this day and have made friends from it. I am also currently working on a huge video, where I'm currently in talks with a former member of the group, so that is super exciting. But overall, I think I have had good experiences with making all my videos, which I'm grateful for.

Last week, when we interviewed Midnight Theories, they recommended yourself as a YouTuber that people should check out. We thought we'd extend the same invitation to yourself. So, if there was one other K-pop commentary YouTuber you would recommend for people to check out, who would it be and why?

Someone that I absolutely love watching is Briczennie. Bri talks about a variety of topics and overall is super nice and respectful when it comes to touchy subjects.

Another person I would love to recommend is Chaennie Lisoo, who has her own company series called "The Worst Entertainment Companies". They are a huge inspiration to me and their content is always so fun to watch.

Thank you so much for taking the time to go through this interview with us! Do you have any news, sneak preview information about upcoming videos, or anything else at all you would like to share with your fans?

Well, as I mentioned before, I am working on a big video, that is probably going to be yet another long video. I have talked about it on my Instagram, so it's not a secret that I am working on a mini documentary video about RaNia and BlackSwan.

I also just want to say that my fans and viewers are so amazing, and I love interacting with them. I'm just so grateful for anyone who cares enough to even just click on a video of mine.

RaNia and BlackSwan's story is an incredibly interesting one that is still ongoing that I've been following for some time now. Earlier this year, I got the opportunity to interview LeeA for Eurovision fansite Aussievision, who was one of four people who made it through the audition round and was set to go to South Korea for the final stage of training to join the group. At the moment, however, it seems uncertain what DR Music's plans are, and whether they are going ahead with the introduction of a new fifth member. ~ Ford

If you haven't already, you should absolutely check out Jihoons Carat's YouTube channel here and watch some of their great variety of video essays, including the "Why I'm Worried About . . ." series.

You can also check out their Twitter @jihoons_carat.

Once again, we here at KpopWise would like to thank Sun from Jihoons Carat for taking the time out of their busy schedule to interview with us.

Ford Carter

Ford Carter is an online blogger studying journalism who's hundreds of articles across half a dozen fansites from the music and television industries have now been read more than 300,000 times. From his home in regional Australia, you'll often find him binging kdramas or rewatching old editions of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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