Before his Saturday night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump boasted that he had about 1 million of your Answers. But when the arena has not yet reached its 19,000 audience, many people online have been quick to give K-pop fans and TikTok users at least partial credit for the low turnout.
Before the rally, people on social media platforms TikTok and Twitter encouraged people to register to attend the Trump event – and not to attend. A video, with more than 300,000 views, appealed to fans of South Korea, the mega BTS group, in particular, to join the trolling campaign.
In the past month alone, K-pop fans have used their vast social media networks to make changes. Earlier this month, K-pop fans drowned racist voices by posting images of K-pop groups using anti-Black hashtags such as #WhiteLivesMatter.
After the Dallas Police Department asked people on Twitter to submit the video of “illegal activity from the protests” for its IWatch Dallas app, the K-pop fans flooded the app with the fancams – or clips from K-pop idols – inviting the crash application.
“Given the diversity of the ARMY (the name of BTS ‘fandom) and of their often expressed a strong desire to help others, it is not surprising that the ARMY wanted to support the Black Vit Lives movement the group said in a statement at the time.
Why K-pop fandoms become activists
To the uninitiated, good causes and K-pop might seem like an unlikely marriage.
But the K-pop fans have done good work for the community for decades, said CedarBough Saeji, an assistant professor in Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Indiana in Bloomington.
In the K-pop world, music stars are known as idols, and are said to be an example of how to act in society. They inspire passionate fandoms, and, in the past, some idols would receive thousands of gifts a day from their fans, Saeji said.
Around two decades ago, K-pop, groups started asking their fans to stop sending gifts and, instead of giving to charity, she said.
Since then, the K-pop fandoms in South Korea have volunteered and donated to charity in their name idol. Super Junior fans donated bags of rice to the Salvation Army, for example, while Block B fans raised money for the construction of a well in Cambodia, CNN SBS affiliate reported.
All of this had the effect of making the idol in question as if they were contributing to society, and portraying fans of more than devout obsessive disorder.
“Fans of practicing these activities not only for local charities, but also as a means of promoting their stars,” Sun Jung, of the National University of Singapore, wrote in a 2012 research study. She noted that while K-pop fandoms can “create a nuisance” online, they can also lead to new forms of social activism.
Even now, BTS members of the ARMY said not to give gifts to pop stars, aside from handwritten letters. At BTS concerts, there are often bins for donating goods to local charities, Saeji said.
And as K-pop has taken on a global dimension, international fanbases have continued this spirit of giving or doing a good job in their name idol.
In March 2018, BTS fan Erika Overton, originally from Brooklyn, at the end of her 30s, co-founded Une Dans Une ARMÉE, une fan, a collective of non-profit partners, in order to encourage the fandom to do small donations to a cause.
According to its website, the group has helped raise funds to finance meals for Syrian refugees and baby formula in Venezuela.
Last year, Overton told CNN that she sees supporting projects to help those in need as a natural extension of being a BTS fan.
“They put a lot of effort into giving us of themselves and their music and their sincerity … the ARMY really wants to give their all in their name. “
How K-pop works activism
While there are certain groups – such as One In One ARMY, which come together for social causes, much of the work of K-pop fans does not take place through a chain of command.
K-pop the organic fandoms unite to get their trendy idol name on Twitter on their birthday or broadcast their favorite band, songs and videos as many times as possible, so they get to the top of the charts. The space tends to be Twitter, fans sense to understand how to use algorithms to achieve their goals.
It’s not a big leap to use the same process of organizing social issues online.
“Literally, it’s just people who connect with people through social media,” Saeji said. “What happens naturally. ”
In the United States, K-pop fans tend to be outward looking and progressive, and many people of color or members of the LGBT community, Saeji said. Given this, it’s no surprise that K-pop fandoms would be either active in supporting Noir Vit Affaire – or opposing Trump.
The real takeout from recent K-pop fans is not necessarily the power of K-pop fandoms, but the power of young people, says Saeji.
“Young people today know how to organize themselves online,” she said. “They have political views and are interested in politics and the politics of change. “
CNN Alicia Lee and Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.