From what I’ve seen, there is a bridge between International and the Korean fans when it comes what goes on in the fandom. Sure, many I and K-fans get along but I rarely hear about any interaction between them. I feel that both are divided not only because of language but different views. What I’ve noticed is the good and bad points of both fans in the K-Pop fandom. Maybe this post may favour towards I-fans and may have more bad points to both sides but that’s also because of how much I know about the fandom. I don’t know any Korean fans or socialise as much with international fans outside of the UK as I did in 2009.
Recently I read an article on Asian Junkie about why the K-Pop fandom isn’t united and although the article was interesting, I found the comments more amusing. But I’ll get to the comments when they relate to which fans I’m talking about.
International fans good points:
When I think of the good points of International fans, I think of how accepting and welcoming they are. I-fans are more accepting of other fans being a part of other fandoms. I have friends who are VIPs, SONES and other fandoms that even I’m not a part of and we get along just fine. That’s why I will never understand how a K-fan can listen to only one artist and stick to that fandom. Do they not get bored? I understand loyalty is an important thing for K-fans but they can still be loyal while listening to other artists and idol’s music, no?
A lot of I-fans have a lot of inside jokes in the fandom. So do K-fans, but I guess being an international fan I don’t get most of their wordplay jokes. A lot of I-fans joke seem to either make fun of Koreaboo’s, certain things idols say or simply wordplay (if you ask me).
International fans bad points:
Zehco: For all of us, thou you don’t admit, it’s a competition.
Who buys the Albums the most?
Who knows how to speak Hangul?
Who knows the latest/updates to “Oppas”?
But let’s be honest, it’s mostly the fangirls and their oppas. When you think about it, especially the last one – it’s true. We all seem to be in a competition to “know the most” and “buy the most”. We don’t need to feel like this but some people really do. It doesn’t seem like it much but have you not heard someone say to you “You’re not a fan if you don’t buy an album and support your favourites?”
Another thing is, I’ve said my piece on sasaengs. They are common in Korea but the more K-Pop concerts and fanaccounts I come across, there has got to be more I-fans who could definitely be the same. It’s quite unhealthy for people to live these lives but I’m kind of glad UK fans are only like that only when the idol is there instead of chasing them around the globe. I’m glad there is no JYP offices or anything similar in the UK for idols to come here for.
Korean fans good points:
Altogether, most I & K-fans are nice to each other. K-fans ask I-fans to help vote and buy albums which the majority of us do even if we can’t join the official fanclub. The Korean fandom is very creative but also dedicated. The fansites and blogs come from the hard work of these fans especially the way they organise birthday and anniversary projects.
Korean fans bad points:
CheesyChua | Asian Junkie: Because most times I find it that k-fans so to speak are trying to keep ups i-fans out of things. For instance when something goes down with a group and were trying to show our support they say things like “what do you know about it you don’t live here or I put my money into the fan club” well guess what honey we would do if you give us one we could understand we take time out of our schedules scoping out the internet just to find subs to laugh along with our favorite groups. Our time is invested in groups just as much as yours even though we don’t speak the language. We spend our money it just as much as they do when nowadays most people can just download and burn a cd.
Sometimes I feel this way too, like the majority of the K-fandom keep information to themselves and don’t want to share it with “outsiders” because they don’t want K-pop to spread to people who do not know what is going on all the time with their favourite idols. It’s probably why some of them don’t like us and don’t want to share information with us at times. Because we are free to support and like whatever music we like. We don’t have a controlled atmosphere.
To be honest, the K-pop fandom will always be a mystery to me. There are rules in this fandom that we all follow without realising (such as britahysworld’s post). But the K-fandom is definitely more protective of their idols and sometimes it scares me to the point of how they control the fandom with rules. They will monitor how other fans behave and usually if things don’t go accordingly, Korean fans commonly get beaten up or told off.
There’s a big culture clash too. My friend was telling me something interesting the other day about how Koreans see K-pop similar to how I may see British pop music, for example, Koreans see fans of K-pop in their country at the age of secondary school level (middle school – 12-16?) then after that they would take exams for university and grow up. It’s similar to British Pop in a way. Some of us have liked Spice Girls, Take That, Backstreet Boys etc. in our childhood/teenagehood but not as much anymore because we may have grown out of it. That’s why Korean fans are surprised to see I-fans who are over 18+.
icrawledoutofthesea: I think the main difference is that if you live in a Western country like I do, you will have Gaga, Bieber and Beyonce shoved down your throat on a daily basis (everytime I flick through the tv channels to see what’s on I always catch one of those three dancing around in their pants). As kpop is not popular here, I can decide what I listen to and when, and if I hate something I never, ever have to see it again.
Even though we are a part of the K-pop fandom, there are so many people living in different countries with different cultures and with so many opinions that I wonder why certain K-fans won’t interact more with I-fans. They should know that since K-pop is getting more into a niche market, there are other fans who are not just Korean or Asian. The way I see it unless some of the fans in Korea get used to the idea that their oppas and unnies have more fans overseas and want to make money from it, I don’t think we can get along anytime soon. With the Hallyu wave seeming to be reaching it’s peak (if you ask me), maybe we’ll get along more that others are getting into K-Pop. But to be honest, I’m not too sure.
Man, I wanted to write more but I forgot mostly everything I wanted to say because this article has been delayed for ages.