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2PM’s Taecyeon received a letter from a superfan a few years back. Instead of it being a sweetly written note with hearts drawn around it and glitter sprinkled in the card, it was instead a piece of paper with the following words written in her period blood:
The picture of Korean fans that international fans can see is incredibly narrow: we know of Korean fandom based off of the seas of glowing lightsticks, the carefully catalogued fancam and fan photo collections, the mobs we see at airports and Guerrilla Date recordings, the extravagant gifts they buy for their favorite idols — and, of course, sasaeng fandom. From that, the conclusion that many international fans draw about Korean fans is that they take fandom way too seriously, and that they can be “scary” — or even dangerous.
What we don’t see, though, is how Korean fans act as people and as “fangirls” like the rest of us. We don’t see how they talk amongst themselves, how they organize those super-intense fanchants, how they “spazz” to their favorite idols…just like the rest of us. It’s gotten to the point where we are taken aback and surprised when we see translations of fan comments that are even the slightest bit funny or snarky or sarcastic, because gosh who knew those crazy Korean fans actually had a sense of humor?!
I wish it were as simple as just saying, “Hey guys, Korean fans are spazzy fangirls/boys just like the rest of us so maybe we should stop treating them like mobs of crazy people okay?!?!” but the issue runs much deeper than simply acknowledging the fact that Korean fans are sensible, regular human beings with minds of their own. When I first got into K-pop, the first thing I learned as a K-pop fan was that Korean Fans Are Crazy — crazy enough to start suicide petitions and chase an idol out of his own country, crazy enough to cause black oceans at concerts, crazy enough to submit legal “evidence” to the Seoul District Court in regards to a lawsuit that had nothing to do with them. (2009 was a great year, you see.) And, with the amount of English-language press given to sasaeng fandom, extravagant fan gifts, and other evidences of Korean fan “mob mentality,” it’s no wonder that many international fans are walking into the K-pop fandom with that very same assumption.
‘Stalker’ Obsessive fans
Another concern is sasaeng – or stalker – fans who are exclusive to K-pop, most likely female and obsessed with its artists. High incidents of stalking and invasion of privacy are common. There is even a taxi service catering specifically to these fans that offers to chase the vehicles carrying their idols.
Junsu, a member of the JYJ boy band, became a hot topic after sasaeng fans went as far as planting GPS tracking systems under his car to monitor his every move. At a press conference, his band talked about the pressure they face of fans breaking-and-entering their homes to take photos and steal items and memorabilia. Some have been accused of installing CCTV cameras to capture videos of their favourite stars.
“Last year, we established a support centre for the entertainers. Its role is to offer a counseling service to relieve them from any psychological stress.”
– Jemma Ji, Korea Creative Content Agency
“Sasaeng fan is the Korean term for stalker but without the negative implication,” Stawski says.”People find sasaengs creepy, but why are there no restraining orders? Where are the police to get involved? It almost seems like it’s accepted that if someone’s a K-pop artist, they’ve abandoned their rights to privacy. It’s hard to make laws against sasaengs as well, since they affect such a small per cent of the population, just K-pop artists.”
A spokeswoman from the Korea Creative Content Agency says a new clause was added to the Minor Offenses Act last February to protect K-pop stars from stalker fans, and it has also made other efforts to help artists cope with their fame.
“Last year, we established a support centre for the entertainers. Its role is to offer a counseling service to relieve them from any psychological stress and provide them with an education service and legal support to advise emerging young artists or managers,” Jemma Ji tells Al Jazeera.
Music journalist Kevin EG Perry has written a beginners guide to K-pop. Perry says PSY’s success has been a surprise among K-pop circles, with his unorthodox style earning him the nickname “Bizarre Rapper” before “Gangnam Style” began to gallop online.
With K-pop now prominent in the international spotlight, Perry says its influence will only grow among fans and other performers worldwide.
“The increase in K-pop fanbase on an international level doesn’t surprise me, particularly because of the ease with which music videos are shared between fans,” Perry tells Al Jazeera. “Lots of global stars, from Nicki Minaj to No Doubt, have been influenced by K-Pop videos with over-the-top neon fashion.”
What is K-pop?
“PSY’s global hit, ‘Gangnam Style’, has helped lead to more investment, both in music and in developing legitimate services.”
– Frances Moore, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry
The music genre may be new to some but “K-pop”, the abbreviation for Korean pop music, has been around for years. The lively Korean mix of electro, dance, hip-hop, rock and pop is particularly popular in Asia, even developing a teenage subculture. With highly stylised Western dance moves, airbrushed good looks, and trend-setting fashion, K-pop music has overtaken Japanese music as the most popular genre in Japan.
According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, a body set up by the government to project soft power abroad, South Korea’s biggest overseas market for K-pop is Japan with an 80 percent share.
Theatrical adult actress Lee Yoo Rin is causing a lot of shock in the internet world through her latest message about wanting a one-night stand with Block B’s Jaehyo. However, this has also brought to attention previous comments she made about SHINee’s Minho and B1A4’s Jinyoung, as well.
Earlier this month, she wrote on her personal blog, “Once in a while, I have these thoughts. I want to try a one-night stand with Block B’s Jaehyo. Handsome men make me happy. Would I be able to meet these kinds of men if I became famous, too?”
Continuing from last week’s reveals for Dara and Minzy, 2NE1 are continuing the buzz of their 2014 world tour and new album ‘AON’ (‘All Or Nothing’) with out-of-this-world teaser images of CL and Park Bom!
2NE1 expressed their desire to match the album theme to the tour, and it seems they’re doing just that. Keep your eyes open for more updates to come!
Are you excited for 2NE1’s sci-fi theme? Check it out with the girls in full outfit for their MV!
I used to think I can be very snobby about things but I just stumbled across the “Taemin is a true vocalist” and “Jonghyun and Onew are [crappy] singers” arguments, which I think is shockingly even snobbier. Apparently, a singer sings only with their emotions and may not be properly trained, but the vocalist uses their voice like an instrument and has ‘techniques’ to produce different sounds and textures.
Frankly, this sounds like a load of donkey poo.
Right off the bat, these definitions imply that one is inferior to the other, as one uses ‘technique’ and the other does not, if one is a great vocalist then one is a great singer, but never the other way around. This is perplexing because as trained singers, which all of SHINee are, they all would be using ‘technique’ to craft their singing, though they may be at different levels.
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** This is Hanteo’s Top-selling Artist of 2013 (From January 1st to December 31th) with Kim Jaejoong as the only solo singer in the top 5, he ranked in 4th place with 228,166 Album sales (The sales include Mini-album “I” & Repackage Mini-album “Y” and “WWW” 1st Full Album).
** Meanwhile XIA Junsu ranked in 23rd place with 54,791 Album sales (The sales include “Incredible” 2nd Full Album + others).
** NO promotion in South Korea’s Music Programs and Variety Shows for Kim Jaejoong and XIA Junsu’s albums.
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