By Nur Sa’adah Batrisyia
“People, especially teenagers in Korea are lacking opportunities to enjoy cultural activities, which I believe is one of the factors that gave birth to the toxicity of this phenomenon” – A psychology professor at Seoul National University.
K-pop squeaky-clean image you know right now is only the tip of the iceberg. Totally far away from the glitz and glam they show on stage.
Korean pop or the popular term K-pop is a major significant development in the global music industry. From flashy outfits, costume, vibrant music videos, charismatic stage presence and energetic choreography, fans all over the world are hooked up with this current trend in music industry. To the extent worshipping the artist. Screaming hysterically over a male or female celebrity singing and dancing on a big stage.
But, what if I say the glamorous world of K-pop is not as it seems to be? The industry of K-pop is more than portraying glittery performances and a bunch of award achievements.
Most of K-pop artists had to go through unpleasant tragedies the moment they sign into the slave contract with an agency that couldn’t care less about the artists’ well-being; solely money and business purposes only.
Yet, the main concern here is not on the perspective of the artists. Majority of the K-pop community are well aware of what the artist has to go through; high beauty standards, extreme dieting and inability to have a love life in order to remain accessible to the fan.
The vital point here is the nasty environment around K-pop community – the fans.
First, the unnecessary toxicity either from their own fans base or antis such as excessive death threats, hate speech, kidnapping artist, invading personal life or secretly recording or touching artist’s private part; to the degree giving traumatic mental experience to the artist, are the evidences on how ruinous K-pop fan culture can be.
To add, some fans who are simply unaware of their foolish behaviour could threaten the artist’s personal life. The culture of stalking is the basis on which admiration turns into obsession. The turning point where K-pop getS ugly.
This obsession may have been derived from the desire to stand out, to be visible in the eyes of the artist. Take an example of a well-known girl group in South Korea being chased by her own sasaeng fans (obsessive fans) resulted in the artist posting a devastated message on social media, begging this creepy and delusional fans to leave her alone.
Obsessive fans are willing to lose their brain cells for the sake of obtaining soi-disant exclusive information about the artist. Yes, showing love and affection is necessary to help the artist grow but not to the extent of inflicting damage to the poor artist.
Plus, the upsetting reality of K-pop fan is turning tiny, insignificant, irrational and baseless issues into a fan war thus crushing the artist’s image. In this context, it will get worse if they are too attached with fans community in social media – Twitter for instance.
“They have the ability to turn non-issues into terrible controversies.”
Another depressing truth of K-pop fan phenomenon is “they think they own the artist”. It was like a special privilege for the fan to possess an actual human-being as if the artist is an object. A ridiculous entitlement for the fans to control the artist’s life by ordering her to do anything as they wish. As well as the norms of attacking the artists if their action is not compatible with the fans’ commands or expectations leading to artists suffering from various mental health issues, conflict with identity and masking their life for the sake of preserving their career.
Not enough of being chain mind, soul and body by an abusive entertainment company, they are again facing similar treatment from the possessive fans.
Is this really the best K-pop fans could offer to ease the harsh and cold life of their beloved artist?
Moreover, some fans use K-pop as a form of escapism. This sounds completely normal not till you know the underlying meaning of it. For this reason, media play a crucial role in this settings.
The media itself such as variety shows, dramas and commercials promote escapism to the fans, thus influencing the fans to have an unpleasant illusion of the celebrity. Specifically, the illusion of having one-sided relationship by creating their own interpretation, which then proceeds to develop excessive attachment to the respective celebrity. They receive satisfaction through creating their own imaginary scene, acting like the personas created came into reality.
Surprisingly, being a fan in this modern days, there are tons of fans using this means by posting obscene videos or pictures either with the aim of getting clout or simply to quench their thirst. This refers to freaky fans having sexual dreams or turning it into sexual narrative for the sake of pleasure. Yes, using the celebrity as sexual objects.
Escapism is fine, using K-pop to relieve the stress is fine, but do not overstep the blurry lines between artists and fans.
The pathetic habits of K-pop fans are sickening and should come to an end before the numbers of artist undergoing anguish throughout their career period increase. Not to mention, Korean pop would be better off without this kind of fans.***