Happy Birthday _______! : Your guide to Idol Birthday Projects

Happy Birthday _______! : Your guide to Idol Birthday Projects

You’re minding your own business shopping in Times Square when you see NCT Taeyong’s face in high definition on a giant electronic billboard. Confused, you look closer at the words and see it reads, “Happy Birthday.” This giant billboard was put in the middle of New York to wish Taeyong a happy birthday during their time in the United States! While not common in the United States, these type of birthday projects happen all the time in South Korea.

Types of Projects

Fans love to show their dedication and support for their idols in many different ways. One of the most familiar means of birthday support are massive billboards that can be spotted throughout the South Korean subway stations, while some lesser known projects are coffee shop support, charity projects, and volunteer events.

I spotted Kuanlin in Itaewon

I spotted Kuanlin in Itaewon

Billboards and Advertisements

This is the most common birthday project, and it's easy to find them throughout the Seoul subway stations. The most common stations for advertisements are Myeongdong, Hongdae, Itaewon, Apgujeong Rodeo, and of course, Seoul Station. These advertisements can also be found at bus stations, inside taxis, and even on delivery vehicles throughout South Korea.

No two projects are the same. For example, some advertisements are still images while others are videos. Some are digital and some are analog. And in the case of the Chanyeol birthday ad below, some are painted onto the sides of buildings in the middle of Hongdae. The size and type of advertisement can depend on the fansites who sponsor them. More established fansites or collaboration projects between multiple fansites have larger, more elaborate ads while single fansites tend to stick to the more traditional ads. Fans will often leave notes on these advertisements with words of encouragement for their idols. In addition to birthdays, billboards and advertisements are often created by fansites for special events such as an album release or a group’s anniversary.  

This is a good example of a more elaborate advertisement. This was at Incheon International Airport during the weekend of the NCT concert in Seoul.

Me posing with RM in Hongdae Station

Me posing with RM in Hongdae Station

@Leety701 on Twitter showing off their collection of NCT drink holders from February.

@Leety701 on Twitter showing off their collection of NCT drink holders from February.

Coffee Shop Projects

Smaller coffee shop birthday projects are also very common, however they hardly occur outside of South Korea. Fansites will partner with different coffee shops in the major cities to have drink holders and various fan support goods displayed and sometimes distributed to customers. These projects tend to last for shorter periods of time, often for just a few days centered around an idol’s birthday. To receive a drink holder, it is as simple as purchasing your favorite drink. Try to attend these projects as early as you can to ensure you receive the special goodies.

Charity Work

This is a project that doesn't receive as much recognition as the others do, but may be the most deserving of the hype. For projects like this, fansites will partner up and organize a massive donation in the name of their idol. An example of this is when fans of BTS’s V coordinated several donations of charcoal briquettes and pet shelter supplies. These kinds of donations are often specific to the idol; in V’s case, the pet shelter supplies and briquettes were done because of his dog, Yeontan. In addition to these, fans of V also donated to other charity organizations throughout South Korea for his birthday last year. Several other fandoms have done projects like these, allowing fans to spread kindness in the names of their favorites.

How to Find Out About Projects

The best way to find out about any birthday project is social media. Fansites will post when and where they are doing their support projects. Twitter is the easiest place to find this information as fans will retweet and spread the information so it is quickly accessible. Fansites will often include maps and addresses on where to go to participate in the different projects.

With the globalization of K-Pop, more and more of these projects are being seen all over the world. Keep an eye on social media to see if one will be appearing near you.

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