Editorial

Noona roundtable #2: K-pop fandoms–the good, the bad, and the ugly

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Here we are again, Hellokpop’s Noonas (Terri, CeeFu, Nini and Xiaolong) gathered around the roundtable once more to talk about a topic we feel is important for anyone listening to K-pop: the not-so-simple yet fascinating world of fandoms, the dark secrets of sasaengs, and the impact these issues have had on all of us as K-pop fans.

Check out the previous roundtable about K-pop male groups!

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Xiaolong:  What do you think about K-fandoms in general?  What’s the good, the bad, and the ugly?

Terri: In general, K-fandoms are a great place to visit. Would I want to live there all the time? No. One of the wonderful elements of K-fandoms, though, is that they have introduced me to a culture I might not have explored so thoroughly in the past. And I’ve met some terrific people there.

CeeFu: I think that depending on how you interact with the fandoms.  Overall, it’s a great experience, but there are certain expressions of the fandom that generate some of the problems we often hear about. Fandoms also can be great when you are a new fan looking for information, or videos.

Nini: K-fandoms are both beautiful and tragic. Their loyalty and love are second to none in the music world, but their behavior can sometimes be classified as both neurotic and criminal. This generalization also depends on the level of interaction you have with a specific fandom, but overall it is an adequate representation of a K-pop fandom’s duality. Each fan is an individual, but the mob mentality, the need to go with the flow, can take over quickly in a fandom. Even when the way to go is most definitely the wrong path, fans sometimes still follow it without thinking.

Xiaolong: It’s probably the same for all fandoms, that you get to meet awesome people and connect with others of the same interest. How are K-fandoms different? Are they different at all?

Nini: I think the major difference between K-pop fandoms and other fandoms is the level of dedication. K-pop fans show a dedication unlike any other fandom I’ve ever seen. It’s awe inspiring–and even a little scary.

Terri: Scary is right. “Sasaeng” fans are an obsessive group of fans that I didn’t even know existed until I got into K-pop. Here in the U.S., we have anti-stalking laws that protect our celebrities pretty well–although they aren’t perfect, of course. I think that may be one reason why you don’t hear about so-called sasaeng fans here in the U.S. as much. Well, that and the fact that fans aren’t really big news here. Certainly, there are obsessive fans here in the U.S., just like there are in Asia, but the news is–well, it’s just not news, and thus not usually worthy of a headline.

CeeFu: I think that may also be related to the ages of some of the fans. Some fans are at an age where they want to be part of something, and fandoms provide that. I think many fandoms have the loyalty aspect to it (see Star Trek/Star Wars fans), but the Internet plays a large role in K-pop fandom in terms of access and connecting with people. It can also encourage the instances of bad behavior that we see, because people can hide behind computers. But, once again, this is part of an overall context of the Internet. I don’t want it to seem as if K-pop has higher instances of inappropriate behavior than other kinds of fandom.

Nini: I really think what sets K-fandoms apart is the status of K-pop in-and of-itself within the global music market. Because, K-pop has been labeled as only popular in Asia, K-pop fans have a determination to break that label or stereotype. They want the world to know that K-pop is a great genre and everyone should give it a chance. Because the industry is a “grass roots” movement so to speak, it takes a very loyal heart to continue to be so dedicated to something that isn’t mainstream.

Xiaolong: It’s not only about the inappropriate behaviour, we also have a wonderful side of K-fandoms that I have not seen in other fandoms, and this is the level of care about the artist. Self-initiated charity actions and not just once in a while but regularly. How they send food and clothes to support the artist when they are filming–this is something I have never seen from any Western fandoms.

CeeFu: Yes, the global K-pop fan phenomenon is really unique.

Terri: A large, global group of fans can make a much bigger impact together than they can alone. That’s an added bonus, for sure. And a good fandom also supports its members. For example, Rain‘s official fanclub in Korea, The Cloud, is extremely supportive of Rain’s global Clouds. In the past, they have even coordinated the purchase of tickets and transportation to concerts in Asia for global fans. They want to make sure that global fans will be able to support Rain from wherever they are, in whatever capacity they can. I’ve never seen that happen in the West.

Nini: I think the sense of community is what really makes K-fandoms special. Even if the fans are behaving badly, they are still united in one common goal.  Be it support for a particular artist or hating on a particular artist, they still rally around one another. This sense of community and family is what solidifies a fandom and makes it long lasting.

Xiaolong: CeeFu, you mentioned the Internet and anonymity–this also ties in with what I regard as the ‘Power of K-netizens,’ the idea that basically Korean fans can simply break an artist’s career if they want. This sounds really scary to me.

Nini: They can’t break a career, per se, but they absolutely have a huge influence on said career. What the fans think and how they react are both major players in what an artist will and won’t/can and can’t do.

CeeFu: However, I don’t know if the fandoms always act in unison all the time. Fandoms are split all the time over things–and let’s not even get started on the anti-fan! 😀

Terri: Oh, anti-fans are something else. Wow. Incredible. That would be a whole roundtable. Yes, simple things like not agreeing on the fanclub “color” can really divide a group of fans. Another example from The Cloud world. At one point, there was a great deal of drama over whether Rain’s fanclub’s official color was gray or silver. Good grief. (It’s silver, by the way. Just so you know.) The split up of DBSK was another major fan-dividing event. That one, in particular, is an example of a fandom that was severely traumatized.

Nini: Severely traumatized indeed. In  my opinion, their split was one of the most “tragic” events in K-pop history, when it comes to the overall effect it had on their fans. Within the Cassiopeia fanbase, you now have a dedicated delineation between the fans. They’re either an OT5, JYJ stans, or a Homin stans. Fanwars are so common place now it’s beyond staggering and, in truth, quite disturbing at times.

However, even with this separation of the fandom, the base belief hasn’t changed. Cassies will always support them no matter where their bias lists fall. As a “since debut” fan of DBSK, I deal with the Cassie fanbase on a daily basis, and even though we are somewhat splintered, we still have a dedication unlike any other. The fanbase’s love for DBSK/JYJ/Homin is undeniable.

Terri: I think that, for the most part, loyalty is true for most fanbases, Nini.

CeeFu: I don’t know. I’m seeing people in fandoms posting things, especially when you have subgroups form or people have solo careers. Some older fans of groups are reporting that newer fans of individual members of the group are at odds with fans who are fans of the entire group. Whew! This is happening with Triple S: Henecians are bashing Triple S, and Triple S are trying to tell them about the whole “five united as one” concept.

Here’s a clue. When you are hiding behind bushes, on balconies, behind columns, under tables, behind cars taking photos or video of your idol during their private moments–you are a stalker. Plain and simple. Regardless of what you call yourself. – Terri

Xiaolong: There are also the “sasaengs,” which are quite “unique.” I am sure all celebrities have stalkers, but not quite as many as in K-pop, and especially not roaming around in hordes, so to speak. In your opinion, what made the development of the “sasaeng culture” in K-pop possible?

Terri: Is unique the right word? LOL. Insane, maybe? When you are defecating or urinating outside someone’s door, you’ve got a serious problem.  Or when you’re following idols around 24/7, or engaging them in high-speed chases in private taxis–well, that’s just bizarre behavior.

Nini: The lack of stalking laws on the books.

Xiaolong: I guess this scary part of stalking is not due to the lack of stalking laws.

Nini: Right now, in Korea, the only stalking laws on the books refer to “stalking of a sensual nature.” Therefore, the behavior of sasaeng fans doesn’t qualify for prosecution under said laws. Korea does have privacy laws that can be enforced, but the punishment for said violation is lax. The culture plays a role as well. Where many see that these kids should be disciplined by their parents instead of put in jail, I, on the other hand, completely disagree with that belief. Sasaengs are criminals.

Terri: Idol handlers simply trying to protect idols are often at a loss too. Sometimes they are even turned into perpetrators just because they are trying to do their jobs. To me there is some kind of “gang” mentality going on there. In all of the reading I’ve done about sasaeng fans, I’ve noticed that many of these fans appear to be outcasts in one way or another–either from their own families, neighborhoods, or at school. Do you think they get a sense of belonging when they join these sasaeng groups?

Xiaolong: Hm, so it is like a venting place for outcasts?

Terri: It’s like they crave attention and they will take it any way they can get it–even if it means hurting their idols.

Xiaolong: So this would mean that “normal” teens don’t really become sasaengs, but those who already have some kind of problem use this as a sort of activity where they can vent their anger or channel their frustration?

CeeFu: Xiaolong, that makes sense. K-pop just becomes the vehicle.

Terri: Obviously, many of these fans have no lives outside of their sasaeng groups, because from what I’ve seen, they are constantly at it, following their idols everywhere much of the time. Not just that, they are everywhere at the same time. Large groups of them.

Xiaolong: That could also explain why on Earth their parents don’t care about what these kids are doing–and where they get their money from.

Terri: Right. It’s much easier to hand a kid $1000.00 and tell them to get lost. Especially if you don’t care about them in the first place. So sad. But that also explains these fans’ rabid obsession with their idols. If you’ve got no love, where do go to you find it?

If your parents don’t care where you are anyway, then why not belong to a group of like-minded people who all care about the same thing you do? I think Social Media also plays a huge part in their ability to be everywhere at the same time.

Nini: Sasaengs scare me–not only from a regular person’s perspective, but also from a fan’s perspective. I, like most fans of K-pop, have a deep and sincere respect for all the artists in the industry and care about them. I want them to be happy, healthy, successful, and safe. Sasaengs are the proverbial Kryptonite to that Superman.

They put the artist in danger because of their unnatural obsessions, they treat them like objects that can be possessed, and they use their so-called love to justify their actions. They make artists so afraid of their own shadows that when truly respectful and understanding fans approach them, they recoil immediately. They have been burned so badly by the bad side of the fandom’s mentality that they can’t trust anyone.

Xiaolong: Indeed. Is there a way to stop them?

Terri: Stop them? Hm. You know, when your fans disrupt a relative’s wedding and you get mad and tell them to stop it, and their reaction is to tell you that you look “cute when you are mad” and that your actions just make them “want to do even worse”? I don’t think they are stoppable.

Nini: I don’t think there is a way to truly stop them either, but there is a way to deter them. If one artist, just one, would stand up and prosecute a sasaeng, then that would serve as a catalyst to create change.

Terri: I agree, Nini. However, the laws have to be there to support change, and now it’s extremely difficult to prosecute these kids. And, scarily, it seems that most of them really are kids.  Minors.

Xiaolong: Indeed. You cannot really sue someone in Korea at the moment for screaming at your brother’s wedding, even if they were uninvited.

Nini: Right. That’s the biggest issue right now. There is no law to prevent them from behaving this way, and too many organizations (like sasaeng taxi services) are enablers.

Terri: If they were here in The States, many of these fans’ would be in some kind of detention, because we have laws against stalking–which they are doing. Call it what you want. It’s still stalking.

CeeFu: We also have laws against trespassing.

Nini: In the case of the wedding, had that happened in the U.S., it would automatically have been a trespassing charge.

Terri: Here’s a clue. When you are hiding behind bushes, on balconies, behind columns, under tables, behind cars taking photos or video of your idol during their private moments–you are a stalker. Plain and simple. Regardless of what you call yourself.

Nini: Snapping a shot of an idol on the street or outside a venue is completely different from following them to their hotel and riding the elevators up and down for 6 hours trying to get a glimpse of them. But stalking doesn’t stop at just idols either. Anyone associated with an artist gets stalked. Hell, I got backed into a corner by three fangirls at an Aziatix concert because they saw me come out from backstage after doing an interview with them. I started carrying pepper spray to events after that.

Terri: I would ask which group/idol has the craziest sasaeng fans, but I think I know what the answer will be.  (Although “craziest sasaeng” is probably redundant.)

Xiaolong: JYJ.

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Terri:  Really?  You think so? JYJ? Then EXO is a close second.

Xiaolong: Yeah, they are up-and-coming, but JYJ had had them for 10 years now.

Terri: I heard that Jang Geun-suk had so much trouble in Shanghai during his concert tour that the police told him to leave the country. A huge mob of fans apparently followed him everywhere there.

CeeFu: Part of that JYJ sasaeng activity has to be residual Cassie activity!

XiaolongDo you think that agencies encourage this kind of behaviour due to the OTP pairings, and that they sort of silently (or sometimes not so silently) encourage extreme “bromance” between band members?

Terri: Do agencies encourage this kind of behavior? I think they do to a point. I don’t think they realize, though, how quickly something like this can get out of control.

Nini: Of course they do. Anything to get more popularity. The more popular idols are the more money they stand to make. Skinship, OTP, and Bromance are very effective tools in creating interest in a group.

Terri: What is this fan obsession with bromance, by the way? What IS that? I don’t get it.

Xiaolong: Obviously bromance is a great marketing tool, but in my opinion this also gives a huge boost to extreme shipping. Like what you have with Jaejoong and Yunho, fans hanging PhotoShopped naked posters of the two in public places. They get so worked up by the “existence” of these OTPs that it quickly turns into serious obsession.

Nini: DBSK has been split up for 4 years, yet the “Yunjae” pairing is still alive and kicking–in full force I might add.

Xiaolong: Yes, and this is also adding fuel to sasaengs. I think Jaejoong probably has the most sasaeng fans in the history of K-pop.

CeeFu: Agencies may use these techniques to drum up interest, but in the end they do not control individual behavior, and truth be told, they can’t even control how these things impact people. They hope for more interest, more loyalty, but they can’t guarantee it, and because of that, I don’t think that it’s as high on their priority list as making sure the maknae has the choreography down.

Nini: I think OTP/Skinship/Bromance really is just a small part of marketing for a group but because it’s so “taboo” the fans latch onto it like nobody’s business.

Terri: To your point, CeeFu, once an idol is onstage, the show is theirs, and the agency has very little to do with it at that point.

Xiaolong: I don’t say agencies absolutely plan out OTPs and marketing techniques around them, but they are not silencing these fans even after scandals and people getting hurt. Like Jung Yunho’s poisoning incident.

Terri: Unless they are purposefully choreographed that way, many of these bromance moments are likely concocted by the stars themselves, who are acting “in the moment.”  And I would say their agencies allow it for one reason only–because they don’t care to stop it.  Which speaks volumes to me as a fan.

Nini: The companies allow/promote this type of behavior for one reason: the wow factor. What happens after the initial surprise and interest dies down, they don’t even care. They got the reaction they wanted.  You can believe that 99% of all major Skinship/Bromance incidences at K-pop concerts are completely planned. OTP pairing didn’t just come out of thin air.

They were specifically created by an artist’s management as a way to create interest in the group. Example: In the beginning of DBSK’s career the major OTP was 2U (Yunho and Yoochun). When that pairing failed to create a big enough buzz, the tactic was changed to Yunjae (Yunho and Jaejoong).  That pairing was a resounding success and has thrived ever since.

Xiaolong: Are girl groups also affected? Or is this mostly a boy group phenomenon?

Nini: “Boys will be boys” rules the OTP world. Female groups can’t do pairings because it’s seen as beyond inappropriate.

Terri: But it’s not for boy groups.

CeeFu: But you know what? Some fans are completely unaware of things like OTP. I think we have to recognize that there’s more than one kind of K-pop fan, and more than one way to be a K-pop fan. I know K-pop fans who don’t care about OTP, don’t watch the shows. Some watch the shows but not the BTS shows. I think that these things mean something to certain segments of fans, but not to all.

Nini: Right, fans are individualistic in nature, but each fanbase has clear delineations.

Xiaolong: That’s for sure, but since the craze for OTPs is really big (just visit any fanfiction site…there are tens of thousands of OTP fanfics being written), it’s a huge thing, still. It’s also interesting that stalkers are usually male, but in K-pop, I think 99% of sasaengs are girls.

CeeFu: But people will also determine how they participate in the fandom. Especially for the global fan. If you are a fan in Korea, it’s much more uniform: join the fan club, get your card, get glitter to make your sign. But in the global fandom, some people are not participating in all aspects of the fandom, but still consider themselves to be part of the fandom. A lot of global fans do not like fan fiction and don’t read it, but they are still fans and still part of the fandom. OTP/fan fiction is for a certain segment of fandom, probably younger fans. They have a word for that with older fans.

A lot of fangirls seem to be obsessed to the point where they feel it’s their right to tell the idol how to live his life. – Xiaolong

Xiaolong: There is also one more thing that is bothering me about K-fandoms, that a lot of fangirls seem to be obsessed to the point where they feel it’s their right to tell the idol how to live his life–or how not to. And I mean dating, marriage, etc.

Terri: As a global fan, I’m more like the fan CeeFu just described. Being the co-founder of a fansite and an editor here at hellokpop.com, I likely have a higher interest in K-pop than most global fans. But even I don’t participate in all of the fan activities around. That would leave me with no personal time whatsoever.

Oh, romance. There are so many Clouds who despise Kim Tae-hee right now. It’s incredible. What drama.  I think, though, this type of behavior falls into the same category as the sasaeng fans–the idea that these fans are looking for love from a K-pop idol because they aren’t getting it anywhere else.

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Nini: I have just one response to that: “Who are you to tell someone they can or cannot love?” This belief that an artist must stay single for the rest of his natural life, and live only for the fan’s affection, is downright preposterous. I have my biases, some of which I’ve respected, adored, and loved for well over a decade, and in all of that time I have never once thought that they shouldn’t find love.

Who am I to tell them that they can’t be happy, they can’t fall in love, they can’t get married and start a family? I’m nobody, just another nameless face in the crowd. Fans who dare get bent out of shape because someone is dating or getting married truly disgust me to no end. How selfish can you be, really?

Terri: Again, this phenomenon comes from within the fan. In my humble opinion, they have a serious mental problem if they think any idol is going to marry a fan. Idols are surrounded by beautiful, successful women (or men) every day of the week who are not one among thousands of screaming fans. What in the world makes these fans think that one of them is going to be “THE ONE?”

Nini: But you also have a flip side to that, Terri. Because of these delusional fans that believe that their favorite idol will marry them one day, and they act like it, most artists choose to never date a fan. I’ve seen this first hand and I’ve heard it directly from artists themselves. They don’t trust fans. They don’t believe a fan can love the real version of themselves. So, they refuse to date or get involved with a fan because of that disbelief.

Xiaolong: I think it’s okay for girls to “daydream” about the idol, just like we used to daydream about Prince Charming, but in the end they are just that–people, real ones, blood and flesh–and they also have the right to fall in love and live happily.

Terri: What? These idols are real people? LOL.

Nini: I think that’s something that fans really forget. Idols are real people. They have thoughts, feelings, and faults just like everyone else. Fans fall for their idol’s onstage persona and think they truly know the person, which in fact they don’t. They know what their idol wants them to know, and 99% of the time that’s complete fallacy.

CeeFu: I think it’s one thing to feel some type of way about the dating life of an idol, and another to act on it.If you go busting up in the courthouse to destroy the marriage certificate, then you’ve got a problem. I think age and culture, particularly celebrity culture, have a lot to do with it. We forget that our own (U.S.) celebrities used to hide marriages because it would affect their appeal.

Xiaolong: I seriously do think that a lot of K-pop fans believe idols are supernatural creatures created to make them happy and don’t regard them as real people.

Terri: Oh, Xiaolong, you bring up a great point. I also think that many of the fans who think in this way are young. The older a fan is, the less they think that way.

Xiaolong: Indeed, as we know from statistics, the K-fanbase is mostly below 18-year-old girls.

CeeFu: I completely agree with Terri about the age. And while a lot of fans may be under 18, college age fans are a large demographic as well. These are people in their early 20s. You also have to remember that early K-pop fans are aging too, those who were in their teens but remain fans, even as they get married and have families. Ladies are bringing their kids to fanmeets! 😀

Terri:  I believe they think that by bringing their babies, their idols might approach them. I seriously see no other reason why someone would bring their baby to a fanmeeting. None. Good grief.

Nini: The level of “crazy” in a K-fandom is directly proportional to age range. The younger they are the more “out there” they are. The older they are, the more level headed they become. (This is not always true in every example, but across the board it’s more true than not.)

Terri: The idea that fans think their idol is theirs and that these artists should go 90-to-nothing for them every single day, nonstop, is absurd. Seriously, fans are insatiable. I see that in Rain’s world all the time. It doesn’t matter how much he does–how often he performs, how many photos he puts out there. They still want more and more and more. It’s exhausting to me and I’m just reporting about it. I can’t imagine how exhausting it is to these idols who actually have to do the work. Fans are so greedy. More, more, more! That is their mantra.  But to perform non-stop all the time is simply not possible.

Xiaolong: And then the agencies come into the picture again, because K-idols have a particular way of promoting. A mini-album every 5-6 months, several singles in between, tons of concerts and appearances, basically non-stop work. In the West, if an artist puts out an album every 2 years, they are considered productive.

Nini: Their schedules are that demanding for one reason and one reason only: the sheer amount of active (and debuting) K-pop acts at any given time. They have to put out albums faster and promote longer to stay competitive and make money. The longer they stay away from the active market, the faster their popularity declines.

A perfect example of this is Aziatix. They were huge a year ago, and then after signing a big contract with YMCMB they practically went silent. Their fanbase slowly lost interest and moved onto other things. When their album finally comes out, I have no doubt that their sales with be lower than they expect, because the time gap between albums has been so long.

Terri: True.  If an artist isn’t promoting himself, then he isn’t going to make any money.  It’s all about the gigs.

Nini: Exactly and his/her facetime with the audience.

Xiaolong: That’s also, indeed, a problem that agencies churn out acts like cupcakes. I wonder how long this can be done.

CeeFu: And those gigs also include television appearances, photo shoots and endorsements!

Terri:  The fact that theirs are grueling schedules is obvious, but I honestly have no problem with an agency making their stars work. Most of us ordinary folks have grueling schedules too. However, when your health is at stake, that’s another issue. If someone is getting sick repeatedly, then they are being pushed past their limits, and something needs to give.

Nini: Agreed. These artists have to balance between their health and their careers, and their health loses out 9 times out of 10.

Would you want some random unknown man to run up to you at the airport, grab your breasts and kiss you forcibly, saying he is your fan, so he has the right, because he loves you? I bet you don’t. So, don’t do that to your idol, either. They also don’t like being touched by strangers! – Xiaolong

XiaolongWhat advice would you give to newbie K-pop fans about joining fandoms? What should they keep in mind?

Terri: I guess I would tell newbies to take it slow and keep it casual.

CeeFu: I would tell newbies that there are lots of different ways to participate in a fandom and to do what is comfortable for them. It’s not a lifetime commitment, you can leave when you want to. Just be ready for a certain amount of cray.

Terri: K-pop is entertainment. Or it’s supposed to be, anyway. I hope they can remember that. So, most of all they need to remember to have fun. “Why so serious?”

Nini: I would tell newbies to remember that idols are people too. They are just like everyone else, except they are more well known. Treat them preciously and respectfully. Be loyal and dedicated, but with common sense. The more respectful you are to an artist, the more they will respect you in return. If you act like a lunatic, to them that’s all you will ever be.

Terri: Certainly lunatics attract attention, but I doubt it is the kind of attention you really want, the kind of attention you are really going for. Don’t be stalkers. If an idol comes into a hotel lobby and sees you and turns back around, or hides behind a column, don’t think, “Oh! He recognized me!” Um. Yeah, he did–for all the wrong reasons.

CeeFu: And watch what you say online!

Terri: Right, CeeFu. If you say it online, you’ve said it to the world. I think that fans often forget that.

Nini: There needs to be a shift in the K-fandom mentality before we can truly be respected by our artists. The more we behave like hormone-driven teenagers, the more they will shy away from us–the more security they will employ. A fan dreams of one day becoming a real friend to the artist they like, but when we all act so shamelessly, how could that possibly occur? It can’t.

Until we step up and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we truly respect them as individuals, their careers, and their privacy, there is no way we will ever be accepted as more than just fans. The changing of the fans’ mentality and treatment of artists will slowly erode those boundaries if we consistently show a respectful nature towards them. Look at how JYJ treats fans in countries like Vietnam/Hong Kong. The fans there, at the airports, stay behind the barricades and cheerfully cheer them on without mobbing them. They have a bigger respect for those fans, because they treat the stars respectfully.

Artists have been kissed, hit, punched, elbowed, groped, robbed, and fondled by mobs of fans. One member of EXO ended up with a busted nose, because of fans at the airport, for crying out loud. Truthfully, I really don’t get the whole mobbing thing anyway. These fans who claim they love an artist, crowd around him some much that he can barely move, and he ends up getting hurt because of their stupidity. If you love him so much, you should want to keep him safe, not put him in harm’s way!

Terri: Yes, you should create a ring of safety around the artist and give him/her room to walk. I think the scariest thing about sasaengs is that they think their actions are amusing.

Xiaolong: Yeah, like slapping Yoochun in the face so that he would remember her. So, I would also advise fans that they try to think with the idol’s head and place themselves in his shoes. Would you want some random unknown man to run up to you at the airport, grab your breasts and kiss you forcibly, saying he is your fan, so he has the right, because he loves you? I bet you don’t. So, don’t do that to your idol, either. They also don’t like being touched by strangers!

Nini: Well said!

Terri: Indeed. And don’t follow them to their hotel rooms or to their homes. I cringe at the photos that appear of idols on airplanes sleeping. “I watch you while you sleep” is NOT sensual.

Xiaolong: It’s scary for the idols, too. Just like any woman would be scared of unknown people following them to their homes and screaming their names and touching their intimate parts, idols are also human beings. They also have the same sense of privacy and fears. Don’t be a lunatic! You can love your idol without actually harassing them. Girls probably think that men find it flattering if you go up to them and touch them and try to kiss them, because they are guys and their bodies work differently. But I bet if we ask any man if they liked to be groped by a horde of teenage girls at an airport, they most likely would say, “Hell no.”

CeeFu: I think to the outside person, this makes all K-pop fans look bad.

Nini: Their bad behavior is seen as an “across the board” description of all K-pop fans.

Terri: I would agree with CeeFu. To most people who don’t like or understand why we are even listening to K-pop in the first place, K-pop fans are seen as weird and extreme.

Nini: That’s why K-pop fans get no respect from other non-Kpop fandoms.

Terri: So, what can K-pop fans do to change this perception?

Nini: BEHAVE! Its as simple as that.

Xiaolong: Indeed. Be reasonable and don’t let your hormones ruin your common sense. 🙂

Terri: I think being respectful of artists and other fans as human beings is the first step.

CeeFu: They can also voice that such behavior is inappropriate. When other fans don’t say anything, it looks like approval. Even with EXO situation, I saw other EXO fans saying that that behavior was wrong!

Terri: The only problem with that, CeeFu, is that sometimes you are outnumbered in a crowd of fans. If you’re the only one telling people to stop their behavior, then you are likely going to get run over and they are going to do it anyway. A mob mentality can be frightening, especially when you are in the midst of it. So, how can fans overcome the mob in the moment if they are the only voice of reason?

CeeFu: In a crowd, yes. Online, no. I think we also need to point out that there are fan behaviors that happen in Korea (because the idols are there) and fan behaviors that happen online (the way most fans outside of Korea engage in fandom). Crazy behavior is not limited to Korean fans. Korean fans need to also get their people in check!

Nini: Then you need to become a mob for good. Most fans are against sasaengs and constantly make their disapproval known, but never in an organized way. We need to organize a mob for good instead of evil.

Terri: You know there is already an effort working to do that, Nini, to stand up as one voice. In EXO’s fandom there is anyway.

Xiaolong: And remember that your behaviour affects how the West views your idol, too! If you are downright crazy, it’s not a good image for your idol, either.They are not going to earn respect in the West by having lunatics following them around.

Nini: Right. Those of us who condemn such behavior need to stand together and in one voice proclaim clearly that we don’t condone their behavior and that they DO NOT represent the rest of us. I think there is something that all of us at HKP can do to help better the global opinion of K-pop fans. Report on the good that fans do and report it often.

Sasaengs get so much press but the good goes unreported. Fans spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year supporting their artist in the right way–doing charity projects and donating to the poor (rice wreaths, disaster relief, etc.) this is something that needs to be promoted. Many “experts” claim that the K-pop fandom is too far gone to find some sense of normalcy, but I disagree. As long as you still have fans that strive to bring the fandoms back to common sense and respect, that dream won’t die.

Note: *Noona: Technically it means ‘older sister of a man’. In K-pop ‘noona fans’ refer to women in their late 20′s or older, who are fans of younger male artists.

What do you think about the behaviour (good or bad) of K-pop fandoms? Do you agree with us noonas?

Photo sources: Collage by Collage by Xiaolong,  N. Nini LentCeeFu, TerriFanpopStarnews, NII

Participants:

Terri: Chief Editor
Nini: Specialty Writer & Head of Public Relations (USA)
Ceefu: Assistant Chief Editor
Xiaolong: Editorial Writer

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