Not the Only One: Multi-Fandoms and K-pop

 

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Can’t decide which K-pop group or artist is your favorite? You are not alone! Global fans of K-pop tend to support several groups and artists at the same time, while their Korean counterparts tend to support only one group or artist. But why? And which groups tend to be in a global fan’s multi-fandom? This study seeks to answer these questions in survey that uses open-ended and multiple-choice questions. Take the survey and tell your friends!

Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/kpopmultifandom

Mini Data Note: Why Fans Like B.A.P!

B.A.P

B.A.P

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD
Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Survey results suggest that BABYs, fans of the male K-pop group B. A.P, like the group because of its uniqueness, music and the extramusical activities of the members. These results come from the FAVORITE ARTIST: KARTIST3YR DATASET, part of the 3Year Korean Popular Music Survey. This data note is based on a small sample of 11 respondents.

Uniqueness

Respondents point to the way that B.A.P differs from other K-pop “idol” groups.  One noted that “they have a different feeling to the Kpop industry” and another stated that “they don’t just have a pretty-boy sound.” This can be seen from their debut song, “Warrior.”

 

Music

Respondents also referred to the group’s musical ability. One stated, “They have a wide variety of types of songs (‘Coffee Shop’ is mellow, ‘Hurricane’ is dance and ‘Badman’ is just hard).” Another stated, “They clearly have a passion for music and the music they make, even sometimes getting involved with its creation.”

Extramusical Activities

Several respondents noted the activities of the members beyond music making. One respondent noted, “They’re having a concert because of their charity works. They have the heart of helping others despite . . . their busy schedules.” Another stated, “The leader participates in helping children and the fans also participate in actions [by] UNICEF.”

Image: 1

Sources

“FAVORITE ARTIST: KARTIST3YR DATASET,” KPOPCULTURE, accessed December 1, 2016, http://kpop.omeka.net/items/show/695.

TSENT 2008. “B.A.P – WARRIOR (워리어) M/V.” YouTube. 25 Jan 2012. https://youtu.be/5tLooPlf2Sw, *(9 Dec 2016).

Mini Data Note: Why Fans Like Infinite!

Infinite

Infinite

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

Survey results suggests that Inspirits, fans of the male K-pop group Infinite, like the group because of its strong choreography, vocals and group dynamic.  These results come from the FAVORITE ARTIST: KARTIST3YR DATASET, part of the Hallyu Korean Popular Music Survey. This data note is based on a small sample of 13 respondents.

Choreography

Respondents repeatedly point to Infinite’s dance skills as a primary reason for the group’s appeal, noting their ability to dance in sync. One respondent stated that s/he liked the group because “they have one of the most dopest choreography ever; they are /nearly/synchronized.” Such dance skills can be seen in music videos like “Come Back Again.”

 

Vocals

Other respondents point to the group’s vocal talent. One respondent noted that “all of the members can sing, even the rappers.” Another noted the ability of the members to harmonize. This can be seen in their performance of “Diamond.”

Group Dynamic

Some respondents noted the dynamic between group members. One respondent described the members as “handsome and funny,” while another noted that “they’re serious on stage but down-to-earth off and funny/goofy.”

Sources

“FAVORITE ARTIST: KARTIST3YR DATASET,” KPOPCULTURE, accessed December 1, 2016, http://kpop.omeka.net/items/show/695.

Jeff Benjamin. “INFINITE’s ‘Destiny’ Music Video: Watch the EDM-Influenced Single’s Blockbuster Visual.” Billboard. 16 Jul 2013. http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/k-town/1764404/infinites-destiny-music-video-watch-the-edm-influenced-singles. (1 Dec 2016).

KBS World TV. “INFINITE – Back / Diamond [Music Bank COMEBACK / 2014.07.18].” YouTube. 12 Aug 2014. https://youtu.be/scg2UqfC15U, (1 Dec 2016).

wolliment. “인피니트 ‘다시돌아와’ 안무ver. 뮤직비디오.” YouTube. 27 Jun 2010. https://youtu.be/6NzVJYEcruw, (1 Dec 2016).

 

 

Last Fans Standing: A Multiple Case Study of Longtime and Adult K-pop Fans

background-1425880_1280

Crystal S. Anderson, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Longwood University

This survey has been revised! Click here for new survey!!!

Most people assume that the only audience for modern Korean popular music (K-pop) is teenagers. As a result, they also assume that K-pop music lacks longevity.  However, the presence of longtime fans suggests that K-pop remains appealing to some fans for years. The existence of adult fans challenges the notion that K-pop only appeals to teenagers.  This multiple case study seeks to understand why individuals remain K-pop fans for years and why adults find K-pop appealing. For three years, I will be asking questions about these atypical fans of K-pop. This survey contains several open-ended and multiple-choice questions that ask how fans see themselves and ask about their K-pop music preferences and fan activity. Please take the survey!

 

CONFERENCE ABSTRACT (Panel Session): The Collective on 2/19/2015

Doing DH Library-Style

The Collective

Knoxville, TN • February 19-20, 2015

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S. • University of South Carolina Lancaster

This panel session reviews the meaning of Digital Humanities within the Library and Information Science framework, explores how the discipline is being applied in library settings, and demonstrates how DH projects support and serve library users and other stakeholders. Kendrick’s portion of the session will delve into pedagogical applications (information literacy support), research and instruction collaborations with other teaching faculty members, and other opportunities for leadership using DH tools and applications. More here.

IFANS PROJECT UPDATE: Online Interview with BigBang Fan

L to R: T.O.P, Seungri, Taeyang, G-Dragon, Daesung; Credit: www.nii.co.kr

L to R: T.O.P, Seungri, Taeyang, G-Dragon, Daesung; Credit: http://www.nii.co.kr

iFans: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandom is a digital project that examines the attitudes, practices and creative output of global K-pop fans. VIPs (as fans of BigBang are called) were given the opportunity to participate in an online interview with questions geared toward their experience as BigBang fans. Whale, a VIP, wrote about the criticisms about BigBang as well as the group’s status as an idol group.  Read more here….

Shine On: Glamour, Image and K-pop

H.O.T

H.O.T

Visuals are an important part of K-pop, and understanding them is crucial to understanding the meaning of K-pop and its spread globally.

In addition to music videos, images that accompany promotions for music releases, photo shoots featured in magazines and endorsements for an array of products are seen, collected and exchanged by fans.  Not just important fan activity, such archiving in the lay sense is important to the preservation and memory-keeping of the visual narrative of K-pop.

In addition to the promotional function they perform, K-pop images also perform cultural work, constructing multifaceted representations of Korean identity.  Anne Anlin Cheng, professor of English and African American studies at Princeton University, sees “celebrity as a politics of recognition and glamour as a politics of personhood” (1023). This has special resonance for raced bodies:

Glamour’s imperviousness thus draws on a crisis of personhood that is inherently political and maybe even strangely liberating for a woman and a minority–liberating not in the simple sense of acquiring a compensatory or impenetrable beauty. . . but in the sense of temporary relief from the burdens of personhood and visibility.  It may seem counterintuitive or even dangerous to talk about the raced and sexualized body’s longing to be thinglike or to disappear into things, but it is the overcorporealized body that may find the most freedom in fantasies of corporeal dematerialization or, alternatively, of material self-extension (1032).

In other words, the highly stylized images that pepper K-pop represent a visual construction of Korean identities, visuals of how Koreans project themselves globally.  For ethnic people who have been constructed by others, such images are important because they do cultural work, deconstructing or altering images of Koreans and the ideas that accompany them.

I have started a new section in my digital humanities project, Hallyu Harmonyto document and curate images of K-pop groups and artists. In doing so, I hope to be able to make meaningful statements about the kinds of representations of Korean men and women that permeate K-pop, detecting patterns that become apparent when such images are collected together.

In the Visuals section of Hallyu Harmony, image galleries are organized into three broad categories:

  • Casual, images designed to appeal to everyone
  • Chic, images designed to represent more sophisticated styling attainable by most
  • Couture, images designed to capture more fantastic styling not designed for normal wear

Within these categories, images are further organized by concepts, magazine shoots and other promotional images. Concepts for music releases are placed in rough chronological order, allowing users to see how an artist or group’s image evolves over time.

The image gallery for Girls’ Generation, shows a greater variety of images than their reputation may suggest. A review of their concepts show that they are equally likely to promote a casual, chic or couture image. However, they are less likely to reflect a couture image in photo shoots for magazines. On the other hand, early observations of 2NE1’s image gallery (in progress) suggest that even though the group is known for its fierce reputation and image that many fans can relate to, the group reflect a chic image for many concepts.

Documenting such images presents challenges.  Many images gathered from the Internet are divorced from their original context as they are shared by fans and K-pop media. As a result, tracing an image’s origins is not always possible.  In some cases, the availability  of images within their context is related to the commitment of Korean agencies to preserve the context of images.  For example, the H.O.T image gallery (in progress) features many images, but few that can be placed in their original context. SM Entertainment‘s sites do not provide information for images on its H.O.T site.  On the other hand, many of  the concept images in S.E.S.’s image gallery can be associated with their original context due to the continued access to the group’s SM site.  Other sites, like DSP Media (formerly DSP Entertainment) only includes current artists on its website, so locating images for Fin.K.L‘s image gallery (in progress) will be challenging. Images will have to be obtained from other sources.  Moreover, it is easier to document 2nd and 3rd generation K-pop groups and artists like SNSD, while first generation groups like H.O.T and S.E.S prove more challenging because the groups are not active.

However, their fanbases are. Fan sites provide the bulk of the images documented, thus acting as valuable informal archives. As more image galleries are completed, I hope to write about the patterns that emerge from images from individuals and groups and compare them with other K-pop artists.

Images: 1, 2 and 34 and 5

Sources:

Cheng, Anne Anlin. “Shine: On Race, Glamour and the Modern.” PMLA 126.4 (2011): 1022-1041.

Creative Commons License
Shine On: Glamour, Image and K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

iFans Update: What Fans Think….about 2NE1!

2NE1, Falling in Love Concept

2NE1, Falling in Love Concept

As part of the ongoing project that is iFans: Mapping K-pop’s International Fandom, I have been working on the fan responses to Case Studies surveys. Click here to read about what 2NE1 fans think about the group’s significance in K-pop as well as an in-depth interview with a BlackJack!