K-pop has traditionally attracted two kinds of people. First, the ones who turn into loyalists for the rest of their lives and then those who absolutely despise it. There really is no third category. This genre of music has been historically associated with over the top performances and near perfect idols, who are, yes you guessed it right, idolised by a very,very ardent fan base.
For a lot of us Kpop is also just, well BTS or at one point the most watched youtube video on the planet, PSY’s Gangam Style. Blame it on ignorance and or just an inherent lack of interest in this kind of music but this mega industry is so much more than what meets the eye. This aura of superficiality that has haunted this cultural revolution is disappointing to say the least.”K-culture” has catapulted itself into mainstream pop culture and is a force to be reckoned with. So much so that we have artists from the west using these idols for collabs to throw themselves into the big leagues. From Selena Gomez to Ed Sheeran and from brands like Samsung to Dior, they’ve opened themselves up to the potential of this Korean Hegemony.
People have tried to brainstorm over the years the reason behind the success of this music industry from South Korea. Some attribute it to a good business model, for some it is the X factor of the idols. But it’s time we start talking about the fandoms. The success we see today is because of the fans these agencies accumulate. This fandom is what the biggest stars from the west want an access to, albeit unsuccessfully. Just like every other aspect of Kpop, these fan groups also have a negative notion of being toxic attached to them. Sure, some of them go overboard but it makes one wonder where this notion goes when it comes to western artists and their fans who break into their homes and eventually end up with restraining orders.
When the Black Lives Movement gained pace last summer, kpop fans took over Twitter. The insane amount of coordination across continents shook the world. For them, this was a routine activity. Something they undertake to break the internet with their favorite artists when they make a “comeback”. They were single handedly responsible for bringing down the iWatch Dallas App used by the Police to look for “illegal activity” during the protests. They used the hashtag #WhiteLivesMatter to confuse white supremacists looking for content against the BLM Movement.
Contrary to popular opinion, these fans aren't here to just make fan edits or get into online brawls, they’re also here to make a difference. Case in point, thousands of them registering for Trump’s rally and ding ding, led him to address a near empty arena.
Of course, as expected Asian success or third world success irks the white male producers sitting in Hollywood.
Kpop snowballed into the world’s fascination with South Korea as a whole. It complimented the already successful K-dramas, korean skin care industries and now the most recent cool thing, Korean food. Those catchy performances, the multi million brand deals, that perfect glass skin every one of us aspires to have one day (please) and the God-like idols have made their way into our lives and they’re speeding ahead, with or without you.