The Once and Future Fandom: How Media Shapes Perceptions of K-pop Fans

Image of varying tones of gold in a kaleidoscope
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Whether K-pop fans are praised political activists or denigrated as delusional enthusiasts, both characterizations reduce K-pop fans, especially Black fans, and fail to recognize their value beyond politics.

Up until recently, K-pop fans had a questionable reputation. On March 19, 2020, I did a search for K-pop fans, and these are the search terms Google offered:

Screen capture of Google search for k-pop fan
Screen capture, Google search for K-pop fan

This is what today’s search (June 24) for K-pop fan brings:

Screen shot of Google search for K-pop fan
Google search for K-pop fan

In the span of a few months, the perception of K-pop fans has changed, largely due to several events with political ramifications, including overwhelming the Dallas police iWatch Dallas app, taking over the #whitelivesmatter hashtag, and most recently, disrupting President Trump’s Oklahoma rally. Coverage by mainstream media outlets have praised these actions, suggesting that K-pop fans now have value because they are politically active.

However, others are pointing out that calling K-pop the newest wave of political activists is not as positive as it seems. Abby Ohlheiser does a really great job of explaining the complexity surrounding K-pop fandom and why the sudden characterization of K-pop fans as activists is problematic:

Some stans, and the academics who study them, say that while it’s great to see fans use these platforms for good, the rapid veneration is overshadowing the more complex dynamics underlying K-pop fandom. And, they say, the newfound reputation for anti-racist heroism largely ignores the voices of black K-pop fans, who have struggled with racism and harassment within the community.

The K-pop fan-as-activist is the other side of the K-pop-fan-as-crazy coin. Both are imposed by the media and narrowly construe K-pop fandom. K-pop fan activity did not suddenly become important or significant just because it intersects with the political arena or because major outlets say so. Fans were always important and significant, in and of themselves. K-pop fans’ ability to organize and mobilize for a cause can be seen as early as 2012, when fans of Seo Taiji, often credited with being the first major figure in K-pop, fundraised to create the “SeoTaiji Forest” in Brazil to support conservation. It’s the same organizing used to support groups when they promote. But it’s also scores of smaller, collaborative projects that collect information in informal archive projects. K-pop fans have always been proactive in producing culture around K-pop.

This has a particular impact for Black K-pop fans. While Black K-pop fans have been part of K-pop fandom since its early days, they are increasingly being brought to the fore solely within the context of K-pop activism around Black Lives Matter, or increasingly, to articulate their negative experiences within the fandom. While both are important in understanding the experiences of Black fans, they are not the only way to understand those experiences. Raising Black K-pop fan voices only to tell stories of racism and discrimination suggests that Black fans cannot talk about just being a fan, who they like and why. It excludes Black fans from having a voice on any other aspect of K-pop and silences them under the auspices of giving them a voice.

Black fans, and Black people in general, have a complex experience one that includes joy.  Imani Perry recently wrote for The Atlantic: “My elders taught me that I belonged to a tradition of resilience, of music that resonates across the globe, of spoken and written language that sings. . . . The injustice is inescapable. So yes, I want the world to recognize our suffering. But I do not want pity from a single soul. Sin and shame are found in neither my body nor my identity. Blackness is an immense and defiant joy.” Calling on Black voices only confirm their negative experience with ignoring their opinion on everything else in the fandom excludes them from being fans in the truest sense of the word. If the only way the public sees Black fan is as a tragic victim, we reduce the Black fan.

K-pop fans in general, and Black K-pop fans in particular, are having characterizations imposed on them by entities that do not have the best track record on K-pop coverage.  This narrative of activism is being generated by mainstream media outlets rather than the fans themselves. As a result, it continues the age-old tendency of the media reducing K-pop fans to the simplest of terms.

Sources

Abby Ohlheiser. “How K-pop Fas Became Celebrated Online Vigilantes.” MIT Technology Review. 5 Jun 2020. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/06/05/1002781/kpop-fans-and-black-lives-matter/ (Accessed 24 Jun 2020).

Imani Perry. “Racism Is Terrible. Blackness Is Not.” The Atlantic. 15 June 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/racism-terrible-blackness-not/613039/ (Accessed 24 June 2020).

Kim Rahn. “Fans Name ‘Seoetaiji Forest’ in Brazil.” The Korea Times. March 2012. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/03/113_107088.html (Accessed 24 Jun 2020).

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The Once and Future Fandom: How Media Shapes Perceptions of K-pop Fans by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

For Your Reading Pleasure: A Hallyu Bibliography, Part 15: FANDOM and FAN ACTIVITY

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

Winthrop University

Welcome to Part 15 of my ongoing series of bibliographic entries about Hallyu.   These entries are listed by year, not by author (TIP: If you know about a title or author and you want to see if it’s included in this listing, use the CTRL + F function).

To learn more about my searching parameters, information-gathering processes, and your ability to access these items, see my earlier essay titled For Your Reading Pleasure: Introducing A Hallyu Bibliography.”  Click for Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,  Part 5 , Part 6, Part 7 , Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, and Part 14 of the bibliography.

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Photo credit: Brandon Bolendar, Pixabay.

This is a working post, so if you would like to submit items to this list or to the bibliography, please contact me directly at kaetrena@mailbox.sc.edu.

Fiske, J.  (1992). The cultural economy of fandom.  In  A. Lewis  (Ed.),  The  adoring audience:  Fan  culture  and popular  media  (pp.  30-49). New York:  Routledge.

Leonard, Sean. (2004). Progress against the law: Fan distribution, copyright and the explosive growth of Japanese animation. Accessed 8 April 2020 from http://web.mit.edu/seantek/www/papers/progress-doublespaced.pdf

Leonard, Sean. (2005). Progress against the Law: Anime and Fandom, and the Key to the Globalization of Culture. International Journal of Cultural Studies 8.3 (2005): 281-305.

Yuk Ming Lisa Leung. (2005). Virtualizing the ‘Korean Wave’:  The Politics of (Transnational) Cyberfandom in 〈Daejangguem>. Asian Communication Research Volume 2 Number 2, 2005.9, page(s): 65-90. Abstract accessed 2 November 2011 http://www.dbpia.co.kr/view/ar_view.asp?arid=1030479&A=

Shim, Hyunjoo. (2005). Antifans and the internet: An ethnographic study of participatory drama fans in Korean websites. Thesis, Georgia State University.

Pease, Rowan. (2006).  Internet, fandom and K-wave in China. In K. Howard (Ed.) Korean pop music: Riding the wave. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Hayashi, Kaori and Eun-Jeung Lee. (2007). The potential of fandom and the limits of soft power: Media representations on the popularity of a Korean melodrama in Japan. Social Science Japan Journal, 10(2): 197-216. doi: 10.1093/ssjj/jym049 (see also, Politics and Soft Power)

Siriyuvasak, Ubonrat & Hyunjoon Shin. (2007). Asianizing Kpop: production, consumption and identification patterns among Thai youth. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 8(1): 109-136. 

Lee, Soojin, David Scott and Hyounggon Kim. (2008). Celebrity fan involvement and destination perceptions. Annals of Tourism Research, 35(3): 809-832. 

Mori, Yoshitaka. (2008). Winter Sonata and cultural practices of active fans in Japan: Considering middle-aged women as cultural agents. In C.B. Huat and K. Iwabuchi (Eds.) East Asian Pop Culture: Analyzing the Korean Wave. pp. 127-X. Aberdeen: Hong Kong University Press.

Iwabuchi, Koichi. (2010). Undoing inter-national fandom in the age of brand nationalism. Mechademia, 5:87-96.

Lee, Hyangjin. (2010). Buying youth: Japanese fandom of the Korean wave. In Black, D., Stephen Epstein and Alison Tokita (Eds.) Complicated Currents. Clayton, Victoria, Australia: Monash University ePress. Accessed 8 April 2020 from http://books.publishing.monash.edu/apps/bookworm/view/Complicated+Currents/122/xhtml/chapter7.html

Rembert-Lang, LaToya D. (2010-2011). Reinforcing the power of Babel: The impact of copyright law on fansubbing. Intellectual Property Brief, 2(2): 21-33.

Jung, Sun. (2011). Fan activism, cybervigilantism, and Othering mechanisms in K-pop fandom. Transformative Works and Cultures. Accessed 8 April 2020 from http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/300/287

Jung, Sun. (2011) K-pop, Indonesian fandom, and social media. Transformative Works and Cultures,8. Accessed 8 April 2020 from https://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/289/219

Gatson, Sarah N. and Robin Anne Reid. (2012). Race and ethnicity in fandom. In R.A. Reid and S.N Gatson (Eds.) Race and Ethnicity in Fandom special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, 8. Accessed 23 August 2012 from http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/392/252

Lee, Seung Ah. (2012). Of the fans, by the fans, for the fans: The republic of JYJ. Presented at the Nam Center for Korean Studies’ Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media Symposium. Accessed 8 April 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwBKXybAXJQ

Park, Shin-Eui and Woong Jo Chang. (2012). The Korean Wave: Cultivating a global fandom (unpublished). Accessed 8 April 2020 from https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/23620889/the-korean-wave-cultivating-a-global-fandom-by-shin-eui-park-

Kim, Andrew Eungi, Fitria Mayasari, and Ingyu Oh. (2013). When tourist audiences encounter each other: Diverging learning behaviors of K-pop fans from Japan and Indonesia. Korea Journal, 53(4): 59-82.

Sung, Sang-Yeon. (2013). K-pop reception and participatory fan culture in Austria. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, (9): 90-104. Accessed 16 June 2016 from https://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/e-journal/issue-9/sung

Jung, Soo Keung. (2014). Global audience participation in the production and consumption of Gangnam Style. Thesis, Georgia State Unversity. Accessed 7 April 2020 from https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/communication_theses/106/

Jung, Sun & Doobo Shim. (2014). Social distribution: K-pop fan practices in Indonesia and the ‘Gangnam Style’ phenomenon. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 17(5): 485-501.

Nissim, Otmazgin & Irina Lyan. (2014). Hallyu across the desert: K-pop fandom in Israel and Palestine. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, 3(1): 32-55.

Oh, Ingyu & Chong-Mook Lee. (2014). A league of their own: Female supporters of hallyu and Korea-Japan relations. Pacific Focus, 29(2): 284-302.

Williams, J. Patrick & Samantha Xiang Xin Ho. (2016). “Sasaengpaen” or K-pop fan? Singapore youths, authentic identities, and Asian media fandom. Deviant Behavior, 37(1): 81-94.

Habieb, Adnand. (2017). The influence of K-pop in Indonesia’s students behavior. Proceedings of  ISER 50th International Conference. Pp. 47-50. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f944/67c0b42a7b40eba57d91f7e1ca93ff7af9ea.pdf

Swan, Anna Lee. (2017). Situated knowledge, transnational identities: Place and embodiment in K-pop fan reaction videos. Thesis, University of Washington. Accessed 8 April 2020 from https://digital.lib.washington.edu/researchworks/handle/1773/40004

Dwiyota, Sylvia. (2018). The use of code mixing in Tweets by Kpop fans in Twitter. Lingua Litera, 3(1). Retrieved from http://116.251.210.75/index.php/stba1/article/view/9

Hubinette, Tobias. (2018). Who are the Swedish K-pop fans? Revisiting the reception and consumption of Hallyu in post-Gangnam Style Sweden with an emphasis on K-pop. Culture and Empathy, 1(1-4): 34-48. Accessed 7 April 2020 from http://www.tobiashubinette.se/korean_popculture_1.pdf

Sari, Dorottya. (2018). The rise of Hallyu in Hungary: An exploratory study about the motivation, behavior, and perception of Hungarian K-pop fans.

Swan, Anna Lee. (2018). Transnational identities and feeling in fandom: place and embodiment in K-pop fan reaction videos. Communication, Culture and Critique, 11(4): 548-565.

Sutton, R. Anderson. (2018). Tracking the Korean wave in transnational Asia: K-pop and K-pop fandom in Indonesia. Asian Musicology, 28: 9-39.

Abd-Rahim, Atiqah. (2019). Online fandom: Social identity and social hierarchy of hallyu fans. The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography, 9(1). Accessed 7 April 2020 from https://ojs.library.dal.ca/JUE/article/view/8885

Capistrano, Erik, Paolo. (2019). Understanding Filipino Korean pop music fans. Asian Journal of Social Science, 47(1): 59-87.

Crow, Teahlyn Frances. (2019). K-pop, language, and online fandom: An exploration of Korean language use and performativity amongst international K-pop fans. Thesis, Northern Arizona University.

Cruz, Angela, Seo, Yuri, & Binay, Itir. (2019). Cultural globalization from the periphery: Translation practices of English-speaking K-pop fans. Journal of Consumer Culture, In press. (See Also, Language)

De Kosnik, A. & Carrington, A. (2019). Fans of color, fandoms of color. Transformative Works & Cultures, 29(1): 1.

Jansen, Kine Fjeld. (2019). Pop culturally motivated lexical borrowing: Use of Korean in an English-majority fan forum. Thesis, University of Bergen. Accessed 7 April 2020 from http://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/20363

Kang, Jiwon, Lee, Minsung, Park, Eunil et al. (2019). Alliance for my idol: Analyzing the K-pop fandom collaboration network. CHI EA ‘ 19: Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Pp. 1- 6.

Utami, Evi Farsiah. (2019). Social media, celebrity, and fans: A study of Indonesian K-pop fans. Thesis, Taylor’s University. (See Also, Internet and Social Media)

Liu, Chih-Chieh. From ‘Sorry, Sorry’ to ‘That Banana’: Subtitling of a Korean music video as a site of contestation in Taiwan. Accessed 8 April 2020 from https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/media/5312/04_sorry_sorry_liu.pdf

Vinco, Alessandra & Mazur, Daniela. (n.d.). Fans, hallyu, and broadcast TV: The case of the K-drama “Happy Ending” pioneering in Brazil. Accessed 8 April 2020 from https://congress.aks.ac.kr:52525/korean/files/2_1478846583.pdf

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Fault Lines in Transcultural Fandom

Stock photo from Pixabay
                                                                           Stock photo from Pixabay

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

A recent clash of opinions over the status of Kangin, a member of the Korean pop group Super Junior, exposes fault lines that can occur with transcultural fandoms.

SM Entertainment issued a statement about Kangin’s recent DUI accident.  Not satisfied with the common period of self-reflection that typically follows a scandal,  a group of Korean fans created a petition to have Kangin leave the group entirely. Citing Kangin’s previous drunk driving incident and other controversies, the fans argue that Kangin’s continued presence will damage the group’s reputation:   “We see this series of acts not benefiting Super Junior’s image and career at all. Instead we view them as actions that only cause damage. From our position as fans who support Super Junior, we cannot help but discuss this issue that will influence their image greatly” (soompi).    However, comments on soompi’s Facebook post for the story reveals criticism of those who support Kangin’s departure. This is typical of several posts:  “Not true fans of Super Junior, if they want Kangin to leave the group.”

Such opinions reveal fault lines in the fandom that fall along lines of national identity. The original petition was brought by members of the Korean community site DC Inside, which cannot be accessed by those outside of Korea. While all who support Kangin’s departure are not Korean, the non-fan and anti-fan characterization of those who do certainly applies to the Korean fans who created the petition. Such statements overlook the contextualization of these fans. Operating within Korean culture, they reveal the danger they see to the reputation to the group, which plays differently inside of Korea than it does outside of Korea.  Subtly, fans who criticize the Korean petitioners ignore the Korean context and unwittingly impose their own cultural expectations.

Bertha Chin and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto argue that transcultural fandom offers “the possibility that a fannish orientation may (at times) supersede national, regional and/or geographical boundaries” (99). This certainly describes times when the transcultural fandom is in agreement. However, controversies often reveal how national perspectives inform how fans interact with one another over a controversy. Fandoms contend with notions of authenticity generally, creating hierarchies to determine who is a “real” fan. However, a scandal seems to make these existing fault lines even more pronounced.

With no in-depth knowledge of the petitioners, some fans question their identity as real fans. This is particularly odd given the history of the E.L.Fs, or Everlasting Friends, the Super Junior fandom. These fans reportedly have a history of taking action surrounding the membership of the group. Reportedly, they protested at SM Entertainment when it appeared the agency planned to add additional members to the group. Others have suggested that E.L.F’s pooled their money to buy SM Entertainment stock to become stockholders and have a say in such decisions. Documentation of such events are difficult to locate, but such stories point to the tendency for this particular fandom to be deeply concerned about the membership of the group. Moreover, given that this is a Korean pop group, it is intriguing that fans largely outside of Korea would question the fan identity of the petitioners.

Sources:

Adrian. “Some Fans ‘Abandon’ Kangin; Ask Him to Leave Super Junior.” hellokpop. 26 May 2016.

Chin, Bertha and Lori Hitchcock Morimoto. “Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom.” Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies. 10.1 (2013): 92-108.

Soompi. “Do you think 슈퍼주니어(Super Junior)‘s Kangin should leave the group?” Facebook. 26 May 2016.

kokoberry. “SM Entertainment Releases Official Statement About Kangin’s DUI Accident.” soompi. 24 May 2016.

kokoberry. “Super Junior Fans Petition for Kangin to Leave Group.” soompi. 25 May 2016.

 

 

“Do Not Re-Upload” and Other Meaningless Phrases Used in Kpop Fan Content Production

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

“Do Not Re-Upload! If we found [sic] out that the — clip is re-uploaded, we won’t share a — clip again!” – Seen on YouTube (video uploaded on December 18, 2011).

“Credits and shot by b——y. For foreign fans: Please DO NOT modify the film and DO NOT take out without permission. – Please take out with full credits and don’t add yours [sic] credit  in photo. – Do not modify the film & don’t cut the logo.” – Seen on YouTube (video uploaded on February 9, 2012).

“[Korea Data Blackout] is a movement of support for administrators of Korean fansites as well as fans all around the world who work very hard …to provide pictures and videos of Korean artists.  It is also a movement to make international fans realize just how much these people provide to their fandom experience…and to help them understand how important it is to follow their rules.” – Korean Data Blackout website, September 2012.

Screen capture: Korean Data Blackout logo from KPK’s Digital Documentation of the website. Credit: Kaetrena Davis Kendrick.

Earlier this year KPK published an essay about American law-makers’ attempt to pass a bill that would hinder the free flow of information on the Internet. Described as a piece of legislation that would protect copyright on the World Wide Web – with particular regard to how those protections manifest outside the United States – the bill was deemed too far reaching in its scope, targeting websites who so much as linked to questionable information with severe penalties.

Continue reading ““Do Not Re-Upload” and Other Meaningless Phrases Used in Kpop Fan Content Production”

Why Is KPK on YouTube?

As you probably know, KPK does Hallyu. Most international fans of Kpop and Kdrama access their Korean popular through the Internet in general, and YouTube in particular. We know that’s where you are watching Hello Baby and Happy Together! We go where fans go, so we’re now on YouTube! Check out the KPK Channel! Like us! Tell your friends! And watch our channel because we will be bringing our insights to YouTube too!