It’s not every day that an international K–Pop sensation interacts with a Penn student online—but sometimes dreams do come true. For Louis Chung (C ‘24), his Penn career, and passion for K–Pop and Korean culture culminated in an unforgettable moment of recognition from none other than Jung Kook, a member of the globally renowned BTS.

As a senior at Penn, Louis is no stranger to juggling multitudes, from classes to COVID–19 to his startup, and everything in between. Among all this, he was able to find solace in K–Pop. Being a fervent fan of K–Pop and Korean dramas for years led him to take his first step into the professional world by creating Kfans, a startup by and for K–Pop fans. Louis' online fan journey began with uploading vlogs exploring Korea’s vibrant culture, and a year later, he has taken the full plunge into regular content creation, experimenting with different types of content ranging from K–Pop song trends to skits about Korean news.

Louis' TikTok journey took an unexpected turn when he decided to start teaching Korean on YouTube, despite his initial hesitation about the potential “cringe factor.” He admits that initially, “I was very lowkey about it. I didn’t tell any of my Penn friends about it—I just wanted to be myself.”

His attempts at anonymity were ultimately futile as the ever–powerful TikTok algorithm resulted in people who knew him still finding his account, and following him. Despite this, he decided that he still wanted to continue with the account. He embraces the self–confidence and authenticity that he notes is also prominently featured as a theme in many of BTS’s albums, such as the Love Yourself series, a similar mindset that has become the cornerstone of his content creation philosophy. "I just go full out," he admits. "Even if it's lowkey embarrassing."

As a dedicated BTS fan, Louis noticed Jung Kook's TikTok account, where the idol occasionally spotlighted videos from fans. Seizing the opportunity, Louis created a parody video of Jung Kook’s song "3D" with English lyrics, tailored for the BTS fandom, or ARMY. Despite his initial reluctance, he committed to posting a parody video every day for seven days to match the theme of Jung Kook's newly released "Seven," with the hope of catching Jung Kook's attention. 

The moment finally arrived on the sixth day when Jung Kook liked one of Louis' videos. "My following on my account increased out of nowhere," Louis recalls, describing the surreal experience of suddenly gaining widespread recognition. “I kept scrolling through so many notifications trying to find out what happened.” With 1.8 million views and an influx of followers and comments, Louis's dedication to his craft had paid off in ways he never imagined.

“I was more excited about this than getting my full–time job,” he laughs. “It was the craziest thing ever.”

For Louis, the acknowledgment from Jung Kook is more than just a personal achievement or a moment of fame—it was a validation of his passion for K–Pop and Korean culture. "Even though I grew up in the U.S., I wasn't really connected to American culture as much as my friends," he reflects. "K–Pop was all I knew." Through content creation, Louis finds not just a platform but a community—a place where he could share his love for K–Pop and Korean culture with the world, one video at a time.

He jokes that with the worldwide virality of his video, “I kind of started a movement.” ARMY (the title for BTS’s fanbase) is diverse in location and talent, with fans creating videos from all around the world dancing and singing to the audio he made in his original TikTok. “I felt firsthand the global power that BTS and K–Pop hold.”

Louis thanks content creation for the multitude of benefits it brought him. It taught him discipline, motivating him to stick to the routine of posting, and growing his platform daily. Additionally, through the shared connection of being content creators, he was able to meet new content creators both on and off the Penn campus.

Louis Chung has plans to continue uploading TikToks, and scaling up his platform to hopefully one day meet idols in person, and film TikToks with them like other influencers. A recent marketing scheme has brought online influencers and K–Pop megastars together through short, entertaining videos that promote mutual fan base expansion. “The great thing about content creation isn't that I make money, it's the fact that I can meet so many people I would have never thought I could meet,” Louis confesses.

Louis’s journey from uploading TikToks to catching Jung Kook's attention serves as a testament to the power of authenticity and perseverance in the digital age. He reflects on how his journey at Penn and K–Pop were so intertwined. “I started off at Penn with a startup trying to bring people together through Korean media, and I am now graduating from Penn while having been recognized by a member of BTS themselves, my idols, from Korea.”

As Louis embarks on the next chapter of his life, he looks forward to continuing to share his love for K–Pop and Korean culture with the world—one video at a time.