A large chunk of the K-pop industry revolves around social media. This includes the fan culture around K-pop. Social media is where the vast majority of K-pop fans Interact with each other, find new friends, and share fan made content of their beloved Idols.
Fan made content such as fan art is how many show and share their love for their Idols. And it is through this content that many fans find and make friends.
However, a kind of content creator hierarchy has formed among fans. A specific type of fan who focuses on creating content for other fans. This type of fan is known a Fan account/ fansite.
Fansites often have accounts on multiple social media platforms. They often focus on creating and sharing content focused around one specific member of a specific group.
Two popular fansites for a group called VAV are a fansite called Eclipse 1222 (St.Van focus):
Most fansites primarily focus on attending many concerts and events in order to get photos and videos of the Idols to share with fans who can’t attend. Fansites will organize birthday events for idols at cafes or street stalls. Many fansites will create little cards or keepsakes with the Idols on them to hand out to other fans while in line at concerts and official events.
As a result of their activity and prevalence in their respective fandoms, many fansites have garnered their own group of fans who look forward to their content. The concept of a fansite as a whole fascinates me.
I have decided to try a new approach to a fansite. a sort of parody of fansites but done in good humour.
I’ve created a new fan account called Hairy_VAV. The concept of it is simply to add long hair and/or beards to images of VAV members, usually using FaceApp. This is an experimental approach to the concept of a fansite. It is essentially a themed fansite instead of a member focused fansite.
Ultimately Fansites and their fan generated content is meant to help further the sense of community in K-pop fandoms. Their ultimate goal is to make sure that everyone has a good time with a lot of lighthearted fun.
Have you heard of fansites before? If so, what was your opinion on the concept of fansites?
Do you think fansites focused on North American artists would do well?
Do you follow any fansites?
When it comes to content on your favourite artists, actors, and other public figures, do you prefer official content or fan made content?
Would you be interested in following the shenanigans of Hairy_VAV? Please?
The K-pop community, is a very politically active and socially responsible community. Though they may not seem like it at a glance.
During all that has happened with the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement, the K-pop community has done a fair bit. They have come together to help raise very large sums of money to donate, bombarded feeds with constant news on the movement, and taken the time to educate others on the internet. Many in the K-pop community have participated in or even attempted to facilitate protests in their areas. They have even managed to crash some police reporting sites by spamming them with fancams and using fancams to drown out harmful tags like #whitelivesmatter.
However, many in the K-pop community are also pushing the K-pop Idols to donate and speak out on and show support for BLM.
But does it actually make sense to ask and expect Korean Idols to speak about racism and police brutality in the U.S?
Initially, fans were simply and politely asking their beloved Idols for support. But the longer an Idol or group doesn’t address BLM the more frequent the comments from fans are and the more the demands of the fans escalate. What were originally harmless comments have quickly turned into unadulterated verbal harassment demanding support for BLM. But is it fair? Does it make sense?
Many fans are beginning to express sadness and disappointment in certain Idols for not speaking about BLM on social media or publicly as a whole. The fact the fans are feeling disappointment means that they had an expectation and it was not fulfilled. Idols do hold a lot of influence over their fandoms and many have large, global followings. They have the ability to champion all sorts of social causes and quickly spread the word to the whole of their fandoms. But does it make sense for them to do so? and more importantly, do they even have the freedom to do so?
Many companies restrict what Idols can and can’t say and do. The Idols are restricted to the extent that they cannot even address issues in their own country like the Nth room (a massive illegal chat room exploiting young women) without getting permission from their company first. Most companies strive to prevent their signed talents from talking about or addressing any social or political issue or movement that could be seen as even remotely controversial. Where entertainers in the west can help champion social causes and talk freely of their political views and use their platforms to the fullest, Idols are the opposite. They stay away from all of that and the closest they get to being political is reminding people to vote. In South Korea, entertainers are seen as nothing other than that. In some ways they are completely detached from the issues of the world. It’s not that they don’t know, but that entertainment companies are careful to keep their talents’ images clean and neutral as much as possible so that they can sell music anywhere no matter the political or social climate.
I personally believe that asking K-pop Idols to speak up and provide support for BLM in the U.S. makes as much sense as Canadians asking Somalian celebrities to speak about and provided support in regards to our missing Indigenous women. If they do, then wonderful, any help is truly appreciated. However, there is no expectation of receiving help from them. Our missing Indigenous people are ultimately Canada’s responsibility to find, help, and protect. It’s always appreciated and accepted when foreigners want to provide aid but there is no anger, resentment, or disappointment when people in other countries decide not to provide it as they have their own issues to deal with. I feel that asking South Korean Idols to speak up about police brutality and institutionalized racism in the United States makes the same amount of sense. I understand why American fans feel disappointed that the Idols they look up to are not speaking on an issue that effects the fans personally. But I don’t understand why they had the expectation that the Idols would in the first place.
Granted, some Idols have spoken up, some have shown support or donated, the most globally recognizable being BTS. But their contributions should be viewed as unexpected gifts, not as something that is owed or guaranteed.
There have also been issues in relation to some Idols who have tried to show support.
Amber Liu, a solo artist and ex-member of the disbanded Korean girl group F(x), lives in the states and has been marching with protesters, actively sharing and signing petitions, and using her social media platforms and tour merchandise to raise money to donate to BLM. However, many people want her to stop despite all her efforts to help. Why? Because of a misinformed comment she made on a video of a black man being arrested 2 years ago. She quickly apologized afterwards when she learned of the actual facts behind the video, but many had written her off because of that one comment. Many of the people telling her to stop and go away and that they don’t want her aid for BLM are the same people begging and harassing other idols to do the same that Amber Liu is doing.
Another instance of Idols trying to help that ended up backfiring on them is of a rookie Idol group called 2Z. The members first tried to show support of the movement by posting a picture of them kneeling in solidarity online. That went over well internationally but left Korean fans confused (kneeling in solidarity is a new concept that isn’t quite taking over in South Korea). Then one of 2Z’s members decided to write a song to show further support. It didn’t go well, a poor understanding led to lyrics that are questionable at best and the sampling of George Floyd’s final words in the song is in poor taste. When the young Idol tried to apologize on social media, the first part went well but the second half of the apology was socially unaware. And while everything he did was with the best of intentions and a genuine desire to help and inspire, the end result was the opposite. He may be a good example of why other companies aren’t allowing their Idols to address the subject of BLM over in South Korea.
What do you think?
With globalization, how far is too far?
Should Korean Idols be required to speak up on global social and political issues?
Does it make sense to ask Korean Idols to do so when they can’t even speak on social and political issues in their own country?
Public figures around the world use Social Media platforms as a way to engage with fans and followers. Most use multiple platforms at the same time.
However the commonly used Social Media platforms differ between countries and careers. A politician may use LinkedIn while a actor may use Instagram.
With all of the possibilities, well focus on comparing North American musicians preferred platforms for interacting with fans against those used by South Korean musicians. Let’s start!
(Please bear in mind that these are just my personal observations. There may be common accounts that I am not aware of for the categories in question and the popular platforms are always changing.)
Social Media of N.American Musicians
These may be the obvious ones for most people reading this blog. These Apps are used by everyone but are popular even among Western celebrities for interacting with their fan bases and promoting their work.
We’ll start with Twitter. The infamous bird app. A popular app used to share small thoughts in 280 characters or less. And yes, twitter has indeed increased it’s character limit to 280. A good platform to share simple thoughts and engage in small chat with fans. (Korean artists like to use Twitter for mention parties, also called menpas, as a surprise way to interact with fans during the artist’s free time.)
Next we have Facebook. Commonly used to stay connected with friends and family. However many celebrities are using the business page feature to create a way for fans to actively follow the Artist’s work on the platform and provide feedback for future endeavours.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the whole of Instagram must be countless. Instagram is a good platform to share visual updates, concept teasers, and announce album releases. Also a great way for musicians to view fan art (if they’re tagged).
The new kid n the block, TikTok. many artists have been participating in trends created by fans. The artist inspires the fans and thenm the fans inspire the artist, what a cycle of creativity.
Snapchat… Honestly, I’m not really sure how the celebrity/fan relationship works on Snapchat. I just know it’s popular and that I personally don’t like the app.
And lastly for Western artists, YouTube! an excellent platform to release music videos, but it also has a community tab! Not only can fans leave feedback in the comments on videos, they can actually have some level of interaction with the artist in the community tab if the artist uses it. Also great for helping to build fan communities.
Social Media of S.Korean Musicians
Now onto Social Media in the South Korean music Industry… Mostly K-pop really. Many soloists and groups actually use all the same Social Media platforms as North American artists (except Snapchat) in order to reach out to international fans and help create a global market for themselves. However there are many more Social Media platforms that K-pop artists use for interacting with fans. We’ll go in order of the header image for this section.
The first is an app called V Live. It is used to do live streams and is specifically for the K-pop/music industry in South Korea. It is used so that artists can interact directly with fans, answer questions and hold conversations. (The logo is a peace sign because the fingers make a ‘v’ shape.)
The green N is for NAVER. It is kind of like South Korea’s version of google but it has many different features. Like google mixed with Facebook and Tumblr but entirely in Hangul (the Korean language).
The red and white logo with ‘cafe’ is for a platform called Daum Fancafe. It is more commonly referred to as just Fancafe. It is another platform for fan to directly interact with the artists. But unlike V Live, it is a text based chat room style platform. Artists will often use Fancafe to update fans on the parts of their personal lives that they are comfortable sharing.
The light blue squiggle on a white background is for a photography app called SNOW. While SNOW is not technically a Social Media platform on it’s own, it can, and often is used to post directly to Instagram stories. It is an extremely popular photography app in South Korea due to the wide variety of often cute filters. Many artists use it for pictures and videos that they post to their various other Social Media accounts.
The next two logos are for private apps. Many artists and groups are beginning to make their own apps for interacting with fans as well as using the apps as spaces for their fans to create communities with each other and share their love of the artist. The two examples I used are the VAV app for the group VAV (dark blue with white arrows) and the Weverse app for the group BTS (turquoise with white chat bubbles).
Yes, there are even more platforms commonly used by K-pop artists to interact with fans.
There is the always recognizable ‘t’ of Tumblr. Many artists and groups have begone to make blog posts about their tours and the behind the scenes of the music shows the attend. For the Korean blog posts, they use NAVER. But many groups and artists are starting to use Tumblr to post the English versions of those blogs.
The little purple square of Twitch. It turns out that a lot or k-pop artists like video games. Many of them have started to to video game streams on Twitch to share their love of games with fans while having yet another way to interact with fans.
The little Alien eye creature with the radio signal is the logo for Weibo. Weibo is the Chinese version of NAVER. Why is a Chinese Social Media platform popular among K-pop artists? well it’s because there are a surprising amount of K-pop artists who are actually from China. There is also a huge K-pop market in China. However, the Available forms of Social Media in China are extremely limited. Weibo is one of the very few ways for Chinese K-pop artists to interact with Chinese fans and interact in their mother tongue.
Lastly, we have the yellow ‘talk’ logo. It is the logo for an app called KakaoTalk. It is the most popular Social Media app in South Korea. It’s primarily used as a substitute to texting (kind of like Facebook’s Messenger) but it also hosts community tabs for public figures like politicians, musicians, and actors to allow people to stay abreast of the activity of the public figures they choose to follow.
Wow! What a lot of Social Media platforms. Let’s tally things up!
N.American artists use (6): -Twitter -Facebok -Intsagram -TikTok -Snapchat -YouTube
And S.Koren artists use (14): -Twitter -Facebook -Instagram -TikTok -YouTube -V Live -NAVER -Daum Fancafe -SNOW -Private apps -Tumblr -Twitch -Weibo -KakaoTalk
It may also be good to mention that the individual members of a K-pop group will usually each have a personal account on each platform on top of the group account on each platform. With all that Social Media, it’s amazing they have time for anything else.
How many Social Media platforms do you use?
Which is your preferred Social Media platform?
How many platforms does your favourite public figure use?
Do you think that there are too many, not enough, or just the right amount of Social Media platforms?
let’s start simple what is Cancel culture and what is the “hate train”?
Firstly, according to Dictionary.com cancel culture is: Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.
Secondly, Urban dictionary defines a hate train as: The strong disliking of a specific person, concept, or object manifested in a metaphorical, abstract, train. The hate train is usually only known in existence to those on the hate train, but in rare occasions can be known to a few persons not on the train.
These two concepts often occur concurrently on social media and rarely with thorough fact checking. All it takes is one rumour, true or more often false, to spark a hate train and lead to ‘Cancel parties’ (an event social media where people voice their cancelling of a person, group, or thing.).
Many careers have suffered unfairly as a direct result of these 2 very negative trends. In groups like the K-pop community, people will even proudly post about the hate comments they make of Idols they have ‘cancelled’ and condemn people who support those Idols. Esentially, the concept of hating a group or Idol becomes trendy and people will use peer pressure to get the friends to also post hate comments.
To speak of a current hate train that quickly lead to a mass cancelling of a group, would be the one for KAACHI.
KAACHI is an experimental attempt at forming a mixed race K-pop group in the UK. A large portion of the International K-pop community upset about the debut of the group. Why? Simply because KAACHI didn’t fit their view of what a K-pop girl group is. Essentially, the International K-pop community did not like that the group has members that are not asian. As a direct result, the International K-pop community had cancelled KAACHI before the groups first song was even released. K-pop fans made hating KAACHI so trendy that they were (and still are) condemning and even cancelling other fans who don’t hop on the KAACHI hate train with them. Many K-pop fans even proudly lauding about the verbal abuse that they’ve sent to KAACHI and their families. KAACHI discuss the hate that they are receiving in an interview with DKDKTV. The comments are severe enough and in such great quantity that comments were disabled on the debut music video within a day of being posted to Youtube and all of the members have disabled comments on their personal social media accounts.
KAACHI is by no means the first K-pop musicians to receive hate to such a degree. Needing to disable comments on social media is sadly not not the most extreme effects on idols.
The talented and beloved Jonghyun, Sulli, and Goo Hara were each took their life due to the overwhelming amount of hate they received. Majority of which was through social media.
The hate they received was unfounded and they did not deserve the treatment they received or the pain they felt. And all of it was a direct result of hate trains. The worst part being that Sulli, Jonghyun, and Goo Hara received about an average amount of hate comments for an Idol.
DKDKTV even address how big of a role hate comments played in the passing of Sulli in this video. They also talk about how the passing of Sulli leads to a wave of anti-cyberbullying campaigns.
Have you ever cancelled someone on social media or been apart of a hate train?
Did you think about how it could effect that person?
Did you feel you were doing the right thing or that they deserved to be cancelled?
What did you cancel them for?
after going through this post, do you still feel the same about cancelling that person or group?