Earlier this month there was a big commotion, as rumours got out certain members of EXO would be coming to London. As the rumours were confirmed, the four were already in flight, but k-pop fans have never been ones to be deterred. The information on arrival time and terminal was quickly found, and before long every EXO L who wanted to know, knew where and when to find them.

This is the norm for every big kpop group, and oftentimes schedules will even be released by their company with flight times included in the information.

So what about when it goes wrong?

When EXO did arrive at Heathrow, they were crowded. Pushed back, and grabbed by excited fans, many of whom saw their idols for the first time. Of course the excitement is understandable. But at some point we all need to take a step back and think about what is happening here. Not just to EXO, but there are accounts of these incidents around the world for every kpop group.

Not everyone does this. There are those fans who stay calmly on the side, happy with watching their biggest dream walk past them. What is it that makes this difference in people? Who are the ones who scream and shout, and who can’t seem to control themselves, to the point of grabbing someone they have never met before?

Of course I understand that it feels like you know this person. You have seen them and followed their activities for years, you cling to their every word and memorise their voice. But we all need to understand that these people don’t know us. To them we are a part of a larger thing, a larger fandom, who yes, they love, but they don’t know every single one of their fans personally. There are not a lot of people who would feel comfortable with someone grabbing them, whether it is to show love or something else, and from previous interviews with older idols we all know how common it is to suffer from anxiety and depression. This makes everything worse on everyone.

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Our biggest idols coming to your home country is supposed to be fun for everyone. They should enjoy getting to see fans they have never met before, fans should allow these people to enjoy themselves and explore without needing body guards or special precautions being taken around their every move.

There is something here to be taught from western popular culture fans. Kpop fans are known for their passion and their positivity, for their extreme dedication to their group and their solidarity. These are all great things, many of which I am proud of. But it is something else entirely when we start getting known for crowding airports, stopping traffic and hindering people from doing their jobs or getting to their loved ones, because these is a horde of screaming girls blocking their way.

We never see these things happening to western stars. Whether it is because they show up often enough, or their fans just can’t be bothered to do the necessary research, or if this is a sign that Korean companies need to become more secretive… it’s hard to say. But isn’t it good to find a middleplace here?

Be passionate. Be excited and expressive! But know where the limit is. Know where to draw the line. For yourself and your idol, whoever they may be. That way we can hope that they will come back after a positive experience, and not have to sneak off out the back once their stay is over.

Disclaimer: This post is not to judge anyone specific, personal or fandom wise. EXO has been chosen as an example simply because of the incident most recent. It is not my intention to generalise or judge any one fandom, it is simply to help kpop become better as a whole. It is my opinion alone and I stand for that, but everyone are entitled to their own.


About Author

Journalism and Media & cultural studies @ Kingston University, London. Aspiring traveller. There's always a story to tell - my job is to find the perfect angle!