No matter which groups or artists that you follow as a fan of K-pop, I am sure that every single one of you that read this will be familiar with the topic of ‘Fan Wars’. This refers to the constant feuds and rivalries between fans of different groups. As quite a reserved K-Pop fan myself, I can’t say I’ve ever been directly involved in the arguments on Twitter or Instagram, though I have definitely seen it as I scroll through my feed. Whether the arguments are about which group may be best or which fanbase works the hardest, there always seems to be something for people to be angry about online.
A lot of the disputes seem to happen around charts or awards shows, like the fan war between Blackjacks (2NE1 fans) and SONE’s (Girls’ Generation fans) in 2014. Girls’ Generation’s ‘Mr Mr’, 2NE1’s ‘Come Back Home’ and 4Minute’s ‘Watcha Doin’ Today?’ were up for an Inkigayo award that year. Many would think that the nomination alone was an entirely positive thing, though this was definitely not the case to the fans. The two fanbases stopped at nothing in the fight to declare their group’s superiority, though what was quite ironic is that neither 2NE1 or Girls’ Generation won the award. 4Minute took top spot, which took both the group and their fanbase by surprise. Because they believed that their group would not win, 4Minute’s fanbase did not involve themselves in any argument online.
Despite a simultaneous loss, online bickering raged between Blackjacks and SONEs even up to the MAMA Awards that year, where both groups suffered another simultaneous loss against SISTAR. The fights were pointless to begin with, but the two-time loss proved exactly how unnecessary the online abuse was.
Some may argue that the conflict comes from a blind passion for the artist, which I can appreciate to a certain extent, though that does not condone the outright bullying that can take place during these fan wars, especially when some go as far as to send death threats.
At the end of the day, taking something as positive and expressive as music and twisting it into something so toxic is something that needs to stop. This trend of putting each other down to try and to promote one group or artist over another is not only harmful to one another, it is pointless. The disputes between fans do not affect the success of the artists themselves, who have their own professional relationships with others in the industry. The artists treat each other with respect and can often be friends, as can be seen in this clip of EXO’s Suho and BTS’ V meeting at MAMA 2016:
EXO-Ls and ARMY are notorious for their arguments online, while the idols that they follow are very close friends and do not direct any malice towards each other. Some fans should learn to follow in this example, to celebrate each others successes and passions rather than be hateful.
As a community that is so often misunderstood in Western media, all K-Pop fans should preach positivity and treat each other with the same respect that they give to the idols that they follow. Everyone has their own unique way of expressing their passion for the artists that they admire, though to attack a complete stranger based on that passion is completely unreasonable. It would be so much more beneficial for everyone if, instead of these online arguments, this energy was directed towards a positive cause. The K-Pop community is such an active and powerful force that we could make a lot of difference in the world if less time was wasted on the needless conflict of ‘fan wars’.