K-pop band EXO during their performance in Bangkok on March 16.
K-pop band EXO during their performance in Bangkok on March 16.

A different kind of love: A look at K-pop fandom through fanbases, fansites

A pristine bond has developed between fans and artists which make K-pop followers pull out all stops to express their love and gratitude towards their artistes, who are referred to as idols in South Korea.
By Monami Gogoi | Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 03, 2018 05:28 PM IST

On August 5, as the clock struck midnight in South Korea, an online game went live. Termed as the ‘Labyrinth Project’, the game involved solving 9 riddles, each correct answer unlocking the next stage, with the concluding one being ‘EDEN OF EXO’.

The game was developed by EXO.LAB, a fanbase in South Korea of one of the most popular K-pop groups, EXO. It was available only for 24 hours and the sole reason for its existence was: to celebrate the birth anniversary of EXO-Ls, the “official” name for EXO’s fans.

This is a sneak peek to the hypnotic world of K-pop fandom where within the corporate colonnades of an intensely competitive entertainment industry, a pristine bond has developed between fans and artists which make K-pop followers pull out all stops to express their love and gratitude towards their artistes, who are referred to as idols in South Korea.

K-pop or Korean popular music is one of South Korea’s biggest cultural exports and has emerged into a $4.7 billion industry, according to a Bloomberg report.

A defining characteristic of the K-pop entertainment industry is the relationship that K-pop artistes have with their fans. The role of fandom is crucially tied to the success of a group and K-pop idols always acknowledge their fans’ presence in their journey as an artiste. These lead to K-pop fans, from all over the world, forging strong ties with the their favourite artistes which go beyond their love for music.

K-pop fanbases: Elves who work round-the-clock

K-pop fans come together to form groups called fanbases and carry out projects of varying magnitude and nature. Some are flashy like putting out digital billboard advertisements of their idols in New York’s Times Square, one of the major tourist attractions of the world. Other times, fans mobilise money for philanthropic causes. For eg. SJ Charities, a fanbase of K-pop band Super Junior and B.A.P’s Helping Hands, a fanbase of K-pop band B.A.P, have made donations to build many schools in Africa over the years. Closer home, fanbases in India regularly contribute to charity efforts like donating to old-age homes and orphanages and also animal shelters.

When not executing large-scale projects, the fanbases work behind the scene to ensure victory for their favourite group at Korean music shows which involve a lot of fan participation. Fanbases organise mass streaming sessions of their artistes’ songs, organise fund raisers to buy physical albums and hold mass voting sessions during award show season. They also routinely announce Twitter hashtags to ensure social media visibility for their groups.

A trophy by EXO.LAB on behalf of EXOLs was handed over to K-pop group EXO (through agency staff) during the band’s concert in Seoul on July 12.
A trophy by EXO.LAB on behalf of EXOLs was handed over to K-pop group EXO (through agency staff) during the band’s concert in Seoul on July 12.

K-pop fansite: For the idols, because of the idols

Within the ecosystem of the K-pop fandom, there also exists a culture of fansite which mostly comprises of a single person or a small group that follows an artist to all their public events and chronicle their life through photographs.

Fansites fly across the world, following their idols to public events and unlike paparazzi, they don’t infringe on the privacy. They also provide high-quality pictures and videos, host fund raising drives and exhibitions of their photos and use the money to carry out projects to publicise the idol or give them extravagant gifts.

Iridescent Boy (IB), a fansite that boasts of over 1 million followers on Twitter has been covering the activities of EXO member, Oh Sehun, since April 27, 2012 and in six years has attended all concerts of the band except missing out on six. This year, she also put up a digital ad at Times Square to mark the birthday of the idol.

“Sehun is Iridescent Boy’s reason for existence. He is the only one that I have implicit trust in. The reason I did the Times Square ad was only because I want to introduce him to the world and celebrate his birthday for a long time,” said IB, who didn’t wish to disclose her real name.

Why do K-pop fans go the distance

“Fanbases and fansites have played a major role in K-pop since its earliest days as a way of fan mobilising to come together and spread their love while bonding communally,” says Tamar Herman, a K-pop columnist for Billboard.com, in an email interview to HT.

“I believe it’s a mixture of love and the need to make a better community for oneself. You’re a more involved fan because you want to bond with others as you support an artiste… The dedication that people have to show, whether by spending a lot money or being immensely active on social media, is an outward show of their love and appreciation,” said Herman.

“Enjoying EXO’s music itself would be an extremely satisfying fan activity, but I want EXO and EXO-L to love and bond with each other for a longer time and to form a stronger relationship. If I can achieve this dream through taking part in EXO.LAB, there is no reason for me not to participate,” said one of the members of EXO.LAB to HT, who didn’t wish to be named.

Thus, when EXO.LAB coined the final answer of the online game as EDEN OF EXO, it metaphorically meant EXOLs have entered paradise which in this case is the K-pop band itself. This metaphor is not just confined to EXO but extends to millions of K-pop fans who experience a bit of heaven during the journey with their idol, irrespective of the spatial difference. Perhaps, this is what propels the dedicated passion within them.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
"EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS" is a collage, by a digital artist BEEPLE, that is on auction at Christie's. (REUTERS)
"EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS" is a collage, by a digital artist BEEPLE, that is on auction at Christie's. (REUTERS)

Photos: Digital artist Beeple's work auctioned at Christie's for $6.6 million

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:42 PM IST
A recent Christie's auction offered the first-ever purely digital work of art: Everydays - The First 5000 Days by Mike Winkelmann, also known as, Beeple. Within the space of an hour the bidding amount of $100 has jumped to $1 million. Beeple's digital art is known to carry an NFT (non-fungible token), which is a unique digital token that carries the artist's signature. Beeple's work focuses on 'society's alternating obsession with and fear of technology.
Close
Ranjan Kamath recording the life story of Kannada filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli. Kamath has published 20 such histories on YouTube. They include celebrities and ordinary folks.
Ranjan Kamath recording the life story of Kannada filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli. Kamath has published 20 such histories on YouTube. They include celebrities and ordinary folks.

Putting life on the record with the Mitra Tantra Archive

By Natasha Rego
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:03 PM IST
Filmmaker Ranjan Kamath is recording oral history of luminaries and lay people. Anyone with a story to tell, he says, is worth hearing out
Close
This photo provided by the New Orleans Museum of Art shows "Peking University, Beijing, China," 1991, by Lois Conner. The print is a gift from Cherye R. and James F. Pierce to the museum.(AP)
This photo provided by the New Orleans Museum of Art shows "Peking University, Beijing, China," 1991, by Lois Conner. The print is a gift from Cherye R. and James F. Pierce to the museum.(AP)

New Orleans Museum of Art announces 3 big gifts in 1 month

AP, New Orleans
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 03:39 PM IST
The New Orleans Museum of Art has announced a major gift to its photography department - the third such announcement this month.
Close
The coronavirus pandemic changed the phrases that we used. (Shutterstock/ Representative)
The coronavirus pandemic changed the phrases that we used. (Shutterstock/ Representative)

Phrases we never thought we’d say but for 2020 !

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 02:16 PM IST
Sentences we never thought we’d say, and then 2020 happened
Close
Japanese manga artist Kamentotsu, who goes by his pen name and wears a mask in media appearances, draws his four-panel strip comic 'Koguma's Cake Shop' at his workspace in Tokyo, Japan October 8, 2020.(Reuters)
Japanese manga artist Kamentotsu, who goes by his pen name and wears a mask in media appearances, draws his four-panel strip comic 'Koguma's Cake Shop' at his workspace in Tokyo, Japan October 8, 2020.(Reuters)

For manga's striving artists in Japan, success lurks online

Reuters, Tokyo, Japan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:44 PM IST
By searching for talent online, publishers squeezed by the rise of the internet can see an artist's audience potential out in the open.
Close
With the help of some senior folk singers, the young artistes are making musical albums in a private studio and selling them in the local market.(ANI)
With the help of some senior folk singers, the young artistes are making musical albums in a private studio and selling them in the local market.(ANI)

Young singers seek to revive folk music, sufiyana in Kashmir

ANI, Srinagar (jammu And Kashmir) [india]
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 11:19 AM IST
The young singers of North Kashmir's Singhpora Pattan are working for the revival of the folk and classical forms of Kashmir's music by making folk albums.
Close
The conservation work of Seto Machindranath temple is the first of the 28 cultural heritage conservation and restoration projects being undertaken with a reconstruction of Nepali <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>5,800 million committed by the Indian Government for the cultural heritage sector.(ANI)
The conservation work of Seto Machindranath temple is the first of the 28 cultural heritage conservation and restoration projects being undertaken with a reconstruction of Nepali 5,800 million committed by the Indian Government for the cultural heritage sector.(ANI)

With India's aid, restoration work of Seto Macchindranath Temple in Nepal begins

ANI, Nepal [kathmandu]
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 10:44 AM IST
The restoration work of Seto Macchindranath Temple, one of the 28 heritage sites which will be reconstructed with the help of India's assistance, has begun on Sunday in Kathmandu.
Close
The government has also allowed social congregations on the occasion of marriage and funeral with a maximum of 500 persons with adherence to the Covid-19 safety measures. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)
The government has also allowed social congregations on the occasion of marriage and funeral with a maximum of 500 persons with adherence to the Covid-19 safety measures. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)

Odisha government allows operas & open air theatres with a ceiling

PTI, Bhubaneswar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:47 PM IST
The Odisha government has allowed holding of operas and shows in open air theatres subject to a ceiling of 2,000 persons, in its March guideline issued to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the state.
Close
The MoU was signed at a two-day international webinar, "Traditional Music in Different Cultures: Opportunities and Challenges in the Changing Global Scenario", hosted by the Delhi University's Department of Music on February 25 and 26.(Pixabay)
The MoU was signed at a two-day international webinar, "Traditional Music in Different Cultures: Opportunities and Challenges in the Changing Global Scenario", hosted by the Delhi University's Department of Music on February 25 and 26.(Pixabay)

DU, Singapore Fine Arts Society sign MoU on collaboration in Indian music

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 01:52 PM IST
The Delhi University's Faculty of Music and Fine Arts and the Singapore Fine Arts Society have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for "cultural, academic and research collaboration agreement in Indian music".
Close
The Railway officials signed the MoU with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACT) on Thursday, the SWR said in a press statement. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)
The Railway officials signed the MoU with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACT) on Thursday, the SWR said in a press statement. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)

Heritage railway station buildings to get make-over

PTI, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:56 PM IST
With a view to renovating its station buildings to enhance their heritage value, the Bengaluru division of the South Western Railway has signed a memorandum of understanding with a non-profit organisation.
Close
The main residence at Green Gables was constructed in 1911.(Christie's International Real Estate)
The main residence at Green Gables was constructed in 1911.(Christie's International Real Estate)

A century-old Silicon Valley estate is on sale for $135 million

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 08:38 PM IST
The Fleishhacker family’s Green Gables, a 74-acre compound with seven houses and three pools, has stayed in the family since it was built.
Close
The organisers of the Berlinale, or Berlin Film Festival, now in its 71st year, have always prided themselves on running screenings that are open to an enthusiastic public, unlike Venice and Cannes, its main rivals in the festival calendar.(Instagram)
The organisers of the Berlinale, or Berlin Film Festival, now in its 71st year, have always prided themselves on running screenings that are open to an enthusiastic public, unlike Venice and Cannes, its main rivals in the festival calendar.(Instagram)

Pandemic forces Berlin Film Festival to go online

Reuters, Berlin
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 09:07 AM IST
The Berlinale, one of the world's most open and public film festivals, begins on Monday in a decidedly low-key, private fashion, being streamed to a select audience of journalists and industry professionals rather than playing to packed cinemas.
Close
Since every wasp, including the queen, in the Ropalidia marginata colony is born identical, Dr Raghavendra Gadagkar and his team of research students colour code each individual. (Souvik Mandal)
Since every wasp, including the queen, in the Ropalidia marginata colony is born identical, Dr Raghavendra Gadagkar and his team of research students colour code each individual. (Souvik Mandal)

With insects, this man knows wasps going on

By Natasha Rego
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:14 AM IST
Dr Raghavendra Gadagkar, one of the world’s leading animal behaviour scientists, has spent the last 40 years studying the Ropalidia marginata, a type of wasp commonly found around human habitation. He believes the colonies could offer clues on how humans can manage conflict and competition better.
Close
Auto-complete: The Weekly Puzzle by Dilip D’souza
Auto-complete: The Weekly Puzzle by Dilip D’souza

Auto-complete: The Weekly Puzzle by Dilip D’souza

By Dilip D’Souza
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 11:19 PM IST
Not far from where I live is a stretch of road on which there are always five or six cars
Close
HT Image
HT Image

New study explains why the rich seem happier

By Harikrishnan Nair
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 11:18 PM IST
In the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Matthew Killingsworth reports that, after tracking the lives of over 33,000 volunteers in the US for seven years, he is yet to see the happiness plateau
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP