How K-pop fans control idols: from hating on Lee Seung-gi and Lee Da-in’s romance to the Blackpink #RespectLisa hashtag, obsessive ‘fansumers’ are now calling the shots
And just like how other consumers might boycott products or companies they don’t like, K-pop “fansumers” are requesting improvements from agencies, taking out advertisements to showcase their dissatisfaction, and sometimes even boycotting stars too. Here’s a list of ways K-pop fans are making their voices heard …
Getting hashtags trending
One of the easiest actions a fan can take is to make a hashtag – it doesn’t require spending any money and takes very little time. When K-pop fans want to reach entertainment companies, whether because they think their idols are being mistreated or for any other reason, they try to get hashtags trending to get companies’ attention and raise awareness about the issue in question.
And if stirring up a social media storm doesn’t work? Time to put your money where your mouth is. If celebrities or agencies don’t offer any feedback once a hashtag goes viral, K-pop fans boycott whoever they’re dissatisfied with – refusing to buy any albums or other goods.
While many fan groups have taken part in boycotts, the one by iKonics – the fandom for boy band iKon – was big enough to attract YG Entertainment’s attention.
According to Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), in August 2017, iKonics released a statement explaining that they had decided to boycott iKon because the agency had supposedly ignored their request for feedback regarding lack of promotion for the group in Korean, as well as alleged cancellations of events.
Soon after, YG issued a statement in response, claiming that everything was a “misunderstanding” and saying that iKon was “continuously preparing for a new album and [had] plans to meet domestic fans often”.
Fans initiated another boycott in support of girl group Gfriend. In 2018, Gfriend’s agency Source Music released body pillows of the members, which fans considered inappropriate. (A body pillow is a life-size pillow with an image of a person – or fictional character – printed on it.) After the boycott, the agency scrapped the project.
Showing dissatisfaction at concerts
Some fans show their dissatisfaction by being unsupportive at concerts – it might not sound like much, but it can be a star’s nightmare. And SNSD had to deal with an occurrence of this back in 2008 when they were still rookies.
While many famous K-pop groups like Super Junior, Wonder Girls and TVXQ performed, fans were only silent during SNSD’s performance, showing that their lack of enthusiasm was a slight against that group specifically. Some audience members even shouted “plastic generation”, which played on SNSD’s other name, Girls’ Generation.
The reason behind the diss? Not only was there supposedly infighting between SNSD and Super Junior’s fans at the time, TVXQ’s fans apparently disliked the fact that the SNSD girls had been getting close to the boy band through collaborative projects, like a joint commercial film for Samsung. Yikes.
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Leaving public messages
When getting mad on social media doesn’t work, fans might also decide to spread their messages a little more directly – like by slapping their discontent on the side of a truck or on a banner attached to a giant balloon.
Remember how Exo fans helped get #BoycottSM trending because they were unhappy with Chanyeol’s cheating accusations? Well, after the agency didn’t come forward with any official statements, fans started taking out balloon ads demanding Chanyeol’s withdrawal from the group.
According to KpopStarz, a balloon was spotted in front of SM Entertainment last month reading “Chanyeol OUT” followed by a rather threatening suggestion of what he should consider doing with his private parts.
- When fans suspected that SM Entertainment debuted Aespa to distract from scandals involving Red Velvet’s Irene and Exo’s Chanyeol, they turned to social media
- In 2008, SNSD performed at the annual Dream Concert alongside TVXQ and other stars – and faced the dreaded ‘black ocean’ as the audience switched off its lights