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A week before the president Trump not to hold his protest controversial in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Viviana Dark, a fan of K-pop of Wisconsin (which has requested the pseudonymité for reasons of harassment online), has heard for the first time of its intention to “sabotage” the event. . Users TikTok, the platform of social video exceptionally popular, calling on others to book tickets for the gathering, with no intention of going there. “You know how a challenge TikTok occurs? It was a bit like that. ‘Everyone will do it!’ And it has spread like wildfire, ” says Dark, 19 years old, at NPR Music.
She has registered for two seats, received a confirmation e-mail of the campaign Trump – “I’m counting on my loyal fans like you” – and was never presented to the gathering, which has attracted a few thousand supporters in the auditorium of 19 000 seats on 20 June.
It is not known how many adolescents of TikTok and the fans of K-pop should be credited for the participation disappointing of the rally; The campaign of Trump initially claimed it had received more than one million requests for tickets. A stage prepared for the overflow has been never used.
Dark, which supports groups of girls TWICE and GWSN, is no stranger to political activism in coordination with its community of K-pop. It has a discussion group on Twitter with other fans of idols in the whole world, where they share information on the stars, petitions, and the movements of hashtags. To “block” the platform, she tweeted #WhiteLivesMatter and #KeepAmericaGreat, associated with fancams are not relevant to its favourite stars, as a means of diluting the usefulness and relevance of the tags.
“I’m Black before being a stan K-pop,” she said. “The main reason for which we were fighting was for the cause of Black Lives Matter, to not be recognized [as K-pop fans]. ”
But in being recognized, they are, as “the masters of social media”, “an unlikely ally”, “heroes unlikely.” This month, fans of BTS have equaled the gift of a million dollars of the group Black Lives Matter in about a day. Others are credited to have flooded the app iWatch Dallas fancams (and affect its ranking on the App Store) after that the Dallas police has asked people to report “illegal activity” during the protests of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.
“I never thought I would see the day when kpop stans would defeat the police “, read a tweet that has received more than 4000 likes.
“Why is this so surprising? If you know people in the fandom K-pop, this [political activism] seems natural, ” says Lee Jeeheng, a specialist in cultural studies and author of Culture BTS and ARMY, a book analysing the fandom of the group extremely popular. “K-pop fandom is a tribe digital. The fans have been trained to mobilize quickly. They already have the infrastructure; when someone says: “Go here!” everyone can run to the target. ”
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This activism, although not practiced by all fans of K-pop, has a long history. In South Korea, the fandoms of music organized began to appear in the 80’s and 90’s. The philanthropy of fans, now commonplace in Korea beyond pop music, has its roots in the early 2000s. Fans of the group of idols of “first-generation” Shinhwa, who debuted in 1998 and is still active, are supposed to have started the trend of “rice fan” in 2007, sending thousands of kilograms of rice to charity. Other fandoms have funded cochlear implants for deaf children and, more recently, COVID-19.
Within and across different fandoms, the political consciousness is shared through online networks loose on Twitter, Instagram, fan cafes, etc
The scholar Lee, a fan of BTS, remembers one case: in 2018, the member of the BTS, Jimin, wore a shirt depicting the atomic bombing in the u.s. on Japan, after which the fans are involved in controversial debates on western imperialism and the atrocities of Japan during the Second world War, including the sexual enslavement of women for its military. Fans multilingual furiously translated on Twitter, including Lee. “Fans of South-East Asia have begun to speak of their grandmothers who were sexually slaves “, she recalls. “It was an amazing history lesson. This was an experience that was really moving. I have been a witness to the diversity and representation of minorities in action. ”
“In the world, K-pop is consumed in the name of politics of diversity”, explains Mimyo, editor-in-chief of Idology, an online magazine specializing in the music idol of K-pop. “Most of the fans of K-pop are already interested in the diversity policy; combine this with the culture of collective action of the fandom K-pop. This is why the fandom world of K-pop is actively involved in social movements like Black Lives Matter. ”
“Being a fan of K-pop non-Korean is inherently political, I don’t know why anyone is ever surprised that fans of K-pop are political “, tweeted Tamar Herman, the corresponding K-pop Display panel.
The comments of Herman and Mimyo are part of a story in the media growing, highlighting the progressive policy of the fans of K-pop. But the reality is more complicated.
On the one hand, there are a lot of fans like Dionne Saville, who do not commit themselves really in the political activities of K-pop. “K-pop is not an act inherently political to me. It is just a excellent music that crosses borders of the world. I appreciate the connection to cultural deep that it brings, ” says Saville, a fan of BTS from 47 years in Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. NPR music.
Then, there are problems that are more sinister. Ironically, for a music industry that is perceived as a harbinger of the policy of diversity, with millions of fans of POC in the world, the creators of K-pop are always in the face of constant accusations of cultural appropriation and racism, particularly against Blacks.
For example, the blackface, although less common now, has set fire to many of the idols of the list A. The artists seem to shape it as frequently after the black culture, and many cite the black music as an influence, central.
“Traditionally, K-pop was not a space that validated the feelings of Blacks about these choices,” wrote Natasha Mulenga for Teen Vogue“in spite of the impact that Blackness has had on an industry that has been valued at $ 5.4 billion … by 2018 “.
Within the fandom, many fans black have expressed their concerns regarding the exposure by other fans when they talk of racism.
“It’s really hard to be a POC in K-pop “, said Dark. “When some fans try to talk about racism, internal or even cultural appropriation, this is done somehow under the bed. People of color are pushed back by other fans of K-pop. ”
This is why, for the Dark, some fans of K-pop who are involved online to support the movement Black Lives Matter seem to be hollow. “The actions of some people to” be an ally ” seem to be performative, as if it was just on the surface. ”
“Be a fan of K-pop made me question a lot of drama and problems mentally, because of racism. But I think it’s almost worth having this link with the world, the music, all these different ideas. K-pop helps me learn more about the world. ”
During this time, many artists K-pop have all spoken about the Black Lives Matter – a rare sight, because unlike many of their fans, most artists refrain from making political statements in public.