K-pop Meets DigiWriMo: The Beginning

So, like a lemming, I’ve signed up to do DigiWriMo, a challenge to write a ridiculous number of words in the month of November online, or complete some similarly Herculean task.I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to jumpstart my iFans digital project.  iFans: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandoms, examines K-pop fan behavior and attitudes.

Scholars have been examining the behavior of K-pop fans, but most of these studies focus on fans in East Asia or focus on Asian fans in other countries.  They use surveys to understand fan attitudes of general K-pop fans, or fans of huge single artists.  These studies have provided really great foundations for the understanding of K-pop fan culture.  However, I found that they did not capture the diversity and complexity of the K-pop fandoms themselves.

That’s right, fandoms.  Each group and artist has its own fans, made up of several different communities. They may engage in different kinds of fan activity, and sometimes they partner with one another on special projects.   They even develop their own terms and language.  I also surmise that fan communities for each group displays slight variations among themselves, and that they reflect the “personality” of the group they follow.

But that’s just what I think.  But I wanted a way to see and compare this, and iFans was born!  I chose to focus on global fan communities.  They cannot join official Korean fanclubs (most restrict foreigners from joining), and as a result, turn to the Internet for their fan activity using websites, forums, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube.  I’m more interested in websites, Facebook and Twitter. I’m hoping by mapping out the activity of fan groups, I can provide a better understanding of K-pop fandom in general.  I think K-pop fandom is special because it is not only female-dominated, but also extremely diverse, including multiple races, ethnicities and nationalities. And few studies take fan production seriously.  This work is complemented by my qualitative surveys on the fan attitudes towards the selected groups.

For DigiWriMo, I plan to focus on the Case Studies portion of my iFans project.  I selected 12 K-pop groups (Aziatix, 2NE1, BigBang, Epik High, f(x), MBLAQ, SHINee, SNSD, SS501, Shinhwa, Super Junior,TVXQ), which represent a range of K-pop groups (male groups, female groups, younger groups, veteran groups, pop, R&B and hip hop ) as well as very active fandoms.   I chose fan communities that focused on groups rather than single artists because of their plentitude.I plan to curate websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to get a comprehensive view of each group’s online fan activity.

What’s my goal? My cracktastic goal is to curate 100 websites for the Case Studies for DigiWriMo.  That’s a lot! I’ve already finished one fansite, 1st 2NE1 Fansite (yay!).  I used Wordle to create a word cloud to guide my examination of the site, and coupled that with some analysis of the site itself.  These entries are averaging 500 words, so if I miraculously do 100 sites, I’ll reach the 50,000 word goal! :O

Ok, let’s be real, that’s not going to happen. But I’m hoping that sustained work on the project during the month of November will get me started in this project in earnest. So, here we go: with the iFans entry and this blog post, I’ve got 1045 words towards the goal. YAY!

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