Home > Music

How fans support their favorite Korean idols

  • Published : Aug 12, 2018 - 13:17
  • Updated : Aug 12, 2018 - 13:17

The fandoms of K-pop idols are unlike any other. Along with being dedicated, supportive, and willing to spend quite a lot of money on behalf of their beloved entertainers, K-pop fandoms often consist of a high percentage of super fans.

Super fans do much more than the typical standard of following every social media platform their idols have or consistently voting for them on music programs. They go beyond just buying a lot of merchandise, sending fan letters and stuffed animals, or standing in line for hours to catch a glimpse of the stars.

As super fans began to spend too much money on expensive gifts for their idols, such as designer clothing, many entertainment companies have made restrictions on gifts the artists can receive. Therefore, these dedicated fans have found new, creative ways to express their undying love.

1. Making donations under idols’ names

More and more fandoms are choosing to support their idols by doing good in the world, like making monetary donations to charities as a way of celebrating their favorite idols’ birthdays or anniversaries. For instance, in 2016, the fans of Infinite member Hoya donated 5 million won ($4,430) to Love Snail, an organization supporting those with impaired hearing, in honor of the singer’s birthday; fans of SHINEE’s Jonghyun refused to let his birthday go un-commemorated after his death and donated a generous amount to LGBTQ Youth Center Dding Dong as well.

(Love Snail)
It is also common to see fans donating materials on behalf of their idols. After the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014, the BTS ARMY was quick to act and donated emergency supplies to the victims. IU fans have also donated bags of rice in celebration of the singer’s birthday. In addition, to mark Big Bang’s “Last Dance in Seoul” concerts, fans donated thousands of tons of rice, ramen, and coal briquettes that were promptly distributed to shelters chosen by the band.

2. Paying for public ads

From local subway billboards in Seoul to New York’s Times Square billboards, faces of idols can be seen all over the world. Just this year, Black Pink’s Lisa was featured on multiple Times Square billboards for her 21st birthday, adding to the list of idols like EXO’s Lay, BTS’ V and Jimin who have been recipients of this kind gesture, too. As for SHINee’s 10th anniversary, fans spared no expense and sponsored a large Times Square billboard in May as well as several posters featured in Seoul’s subways.

Citing that it is a great way to show support and contribute to marketing efforts, fans often buy ad space on newspapers, buses and public spaces. For instance, CNBLUE’s fandom paid for ads on Seoul city buses to congratulate the group on its album release in 2014. As for birthdays, Tzuyu from Twice and Jackson from GOT7 are a few of the wide range of idols who have received publicly displayed well wishes. Jackson even received a huge Valentine’s Day gift from fans with a lit-up message on the side of one of the largest towers in West China.

3. Sending food

(Yook Sung-jae's Instagram)
Fans are also known to send their love to idols through packed meals. It has become such a popular act that there are now professional lunch box companies that specialize in these fan gifts. Some fans go above and beyond by also providing lunch for the group’s team or even sending a full snack truck to the entertainers.

Idols often express their gratitude by returning this gesture and providing lunches as a way of thanking fans for their support. Twice, B1A4, Mamamoo and other groups have sent food trucks to fans. The menus are often specialized for the fandom, with Twice serving a diverse menu to reflect the members’ diverse personalities, B1A4 offering delicious fried foods, and Mamamoo giving out adorable lattes.

By Serena Soh, Intern reporter (sjsoh@heraldcorp.com)