What Grinds My (and Your) Gears: K-Pop Edition
Being a K-Pop fan for a day, a month, a year, or even several years, there are things about the fandom that drive people insane. Below are five of the most commonly mentioned pet peeves from fans of all ages and how fans can work together to help correct these behaviors to make the K-Pop fandom a happier place to be.
“_______ Speak English Please!”
These comments appear in all sorts of forms on VLives, Instagram lives, and even under tweets. Fans who always ask their idols to speak English are almost as frustrating as those who ask for other members during lives. A big thing that fans need to remember is that idols do not have to speak English. International fans are not their main focus; Korean fans are as they are the ones who make a massive impact on domestic music charts. If an idol does speak English, fans should not take it for granted and make sure to celebrate their hard work in studying the language. If a native English speaking idol is conducting a live in Korean, the same rule applies: congratulate them on their efforts to learn the language.
If communicating with your idol is something important to you as a fan, try to study some basic Korean phrases that you can say or might hear. Another option is to wait a day or two after lives and they will have subtitles for your viewing convenience.
Akgae is short for the Korean phrase "악성개인팬 " meaning a malicious individual fan. These are people who love a single member from an idol group and then intensely hate the other members. International fans tend to use “solo stan” to describe these people. These “fans” will post hate about the other members, claiming they are nothing and that their favorite is the best. This behavior is uncalled for on all sides. It's okay to prefer one member more than the rest. However, it is not okay to throw hate at others just because you do not like them.
This mostly happens at concerts. The opening has just finished and the members are giving their opening mentions. Then you hear it. The ear-piercing shrieks. Fans screaming their idol’s name or yelling how pretty they are right in your ear. It’s okay to show your excitement and enthusiasm, but not at the expense of those around you. The appropriate time to yell during a concert should be easy to catch. Yelling is okay. Screaming is not. You should not sound like someone is trying to murder you in the middle of the stadium.
Another time when screaming is inappropriate is while in close proximity of your idol. Try to imagine being in their shoes. Would you enjoy being screamed at by random strangers? As a general rule, be aware of the level of your voice in the presence of other fans, staff, and idols.
Cancel Culture and Witch Hunts
This is a problem in more than just the K-Pop world; however, it has become a particular plague that has the potential to wreak havoc. Whether it is jumping to conclusions after a less than credible source releases information about an idol, or a rumor was started on social media and spread too fast to catch, before attacking someone, before retweeting, before even commenting on a topic in any space, check your sources. If it involves an idol member, wait for the company or the idol themselves to release the statement. If it has to do with another fan or person, do not just blindly retweet or comment. Do not begin to attack the person, do not create more rumors, do not bully the person. If you wouldn’t say the words to your idol—don’t say it to a fan. Period.
Space...and the Lack of It
This has become more of a problem for groups in the last five years. More and more, it is becoming common to see idol groups being swarmed in public. This results in many of our idols becoming very uncomfortable being in the presence of their fans. The fandom that many can learn from are Starlights. They are known to be one of the most respectful fandoms. Check out the video below of Starlights who are taking pictures of VIXX’s Leo after an event. They have left him plenty of room to move, are speaking quietly, and are being respectful of the fans around them by not pushing or shoving. Leo is so at ease that he is able to turn his back to the fans. This is what fandoms should be like when seeing their idols after official schedules. On unofficial schedules, fans should not be bothering their idols. Idols do not owe you their time when they are off the clock. Leave them alone.
All of these pet peeves fellow K-pop fans share are easily fixable! As fans, we have the ability to set the example for others in our fandom and for those who are new. So what is something that grinds your gears in the K-Pop world?