Now that K-pop’s global popularity has proven its sustainability, should Korean entertainment companies be more considerate of international fans opinions? In the six years I’ve been a fan, I’ve heard about numerous scandals involving Korean idols and celebrities. Some with minor consequences and others with devastating results. Admittedly, I’ve found myself scratching my head more than a few times wondering how some of these issues even constitute the label of scandal. I’m fully aware of the differences in culture that dictate some of these ideas and I respect those differences. However, the dilemma is that K-pop is no longer strictly a Korean phenom, yet K-entertainment companies seldom acknowledge international fan opinions when issues arise.
A great example of this is Sungmin of Super Junior. Super Junior is arguably one of the most popular Korean boy bands to ever debut. Even as their 13-year anniversary eases closer, fans still anxiously await the group’s comebacks as if they are rookies. Super Junior’s fan-base is devout and diverse. They have won multiple international awards and helped skyrocket K-pop’s popularity to the astronomical levels it’s experiencing today. With such a large group of men, it’s not unexpected for one or two of them to experience the occasional misstep. Like any responsible adult, when you do something wrong you should expect to face consequences, but what about when you just grow up? Well, that’s basically Sungmin’s crime. What did he do? He fell in love and got married. He is an adult and so is his wife. There is absolutely nothing incendiary or distasteful about his marriage as far as the public knows. Yet many Korean fans brutally rejected him for deciding to marry instead of continuing the pretense that he is some innocent fairy that isn’t dating or living for anything but to sing, dance and look pretty for them.
Now, if you’re reading this, you probably already know that some Koreans expect idols to present an image of innocence and be single as they, (the fans) are their (the idols) girlfriends/boyfriends. Considering that entertainment companies encourage this as well, it’s wrong to completely blame Korean fans for feeling this way. The problem is that many international fans do not share this same opinion. So when Korean fans express their dissatisfaction to the point that it impacts our ability to enjoy and support the artists too, it can become frustrating. We feel ignored and unheard. It can feel very unfair to international fans especially since we don’t get to experience K-pop and idols as closely as Korean fans do. It almost feels like we are being punished too.
So what should Korean entertainment companies do when they have Korean fans on one side, literally at their front door screaming to remove an artist while international fans are almost begging them not to? Who should they side with? Both. Can’t the company limit the artist’s activities domestically and allow them to participate in international events? It seems as simple as that, but I am sure there is more to it. Maybe K-pop’s international presence isn’t strong enough yet to support this idea. Or maybe they just don’t care about the international opinion… yet.
Do you think this idea could work? What would you suggest Korean entertainment companies do when K-fans and I-fans disagree on scandals? Comment your thoughts!