K-Pop Newbie: Fan Service

Posted on June 15, 2011

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When fans idolise someone, they will go to great lengths to demonstrate this- in the world of KPop, it seems that this works both ways, with fans and their idols alike, showing great love for one another.

In the Western music scene the most recent type of ‘fan service,’ I can think of is Lady Gaga buying take out food for her fans whilst they queue and wait for her.

KPop ‘fan service,’ is slightly different and can range from the simply ‘lovely’ acts to some slightly more ‘controversial’ acts of fan service that us fans outside of Korea might not understand. In order to break down the barriers of mis-understandings, I thought I should include this post (after a dear reader requested it), breaking down the different types of ‘fan-service,’ our fave K Pop idols might do for their fans!

Fan Service= Kissing and ‘Skinship?’

Super Junior- Heechul kissing Siwon?!

When I first got into the whole world of K Pop, Super Junior were one of the first idols to catch my eye, but when I saw and read about the above picture I was hella confused; my ‘gaydar’ had already been ringing about Heechul, but after seeing him kiss Siwon, I thought that all my ‘suspicions’ had been confirmed, it also didn’t help that he seemed to make a habit of kissing his fellow members (you can see his acts of notoriety all HERE lol). Sadly, when KPop, fans mention ‘fan-service,’ they always seem to class these acts of kissing as ‘fan-service,’ whereas I like to think that idols doing acts of kindness for their fans should properly be classed as ‘fan-service.’

Nonetheless, newbies should know more about this whole Kissing thing between males in the KPop industry and not judge this strange act by what we might think it is; in most cases, no the idol is probably not gay and all these lovey dovey acts are actually done for their fans. Being gay in S.Korea is still a very taboo subject, which I can’t go into, as I don’t have all the info about that to make an informed statement, but I will say that- being gay in Korea is something that is very frowned upon and, most people who are, especially celebs, will not say that they are gay- it’s a sad reality really.

So, think of things this way to understand this whole same-sex kissing thing idols do- in a society where being ‘gay,’ doesn’t officially exist, the act of two males kissing isn’t seen as a sexualized thing but an extension of their ‘affection’ or friendship for one another. If that’s still an odd concept to get your head around, then think of it from the (Korean mostly) fans’ perspective; in S.Korea people of the opposite sex aren’t as outwardly affectionate to one another (unless they are dating) compared to our Western standards, so friends (of the opposite sex) won’t hug or kiss each other’s cheek as a greeting. Similarly, couples who are dating one another, won’t easily kiss or hug each other in public either- public displays of affection (what I saw when I went to Seoul), are purely of the hand holding kind. That’s why, (same-sex) idols kiss each other on stage or put on acts of skinship- which I would define as public displays of affection. Since Korean society seems to see skinship as a titillating thing- for idols to do this to one another, they are (in a way) making their fans extremely happy, by causing situations where the fans could imagine “Oh, I wonder what it’d be like to hold my idols hand or to kiss him?” It’s all an innocent state of mind really, and if you’ve watched Korean dramas and have been completely enthralled by them, then you’ll understand how it feels to jump out of your seat with excitement just because the protagonist has grabbed the hand of the girl he loves or hugs her. Acts of skinship and kissing, work in that same way- driving that sort of mentality (of imagination) in fans, thus making fans want to see more of these types of fan-service.

So next time you see two male idols kissing on stage, don’t think of it as something sexual- simply put yourself in the shoes of their Korean fans, and enter a hypnotised state where you begin to think “I wonder what it’d be like if it was me he was locking lips with,” and then flail or gasp with happiness. 🙂

Aegyo ^^,

If you Aegyo, "I go"!

The following words will probably mean I’ll receive extreme red arrows from some K Pop fans, but I must ‘fess up! I just can’t accept acts of Aegyo! Maybe it’s an age thing (the fact that I’m nearly hitting 25) or maybe it’s because I live in the West, where feminism and ‘girl-power,’ have been long standing?! I don’t know! But, for newbies, “Aegyo,” are simply acts of (extreme) cuteness that idols love to whip out whenever they appear on K-variety programs. I swear to you, you will probably have never, ever seen such acts of cuteness from our Western celebs- neither female or male ones either! Whereas, in the world of K-Pop, in fact in S.Korean society as a whole, they thrive on this concept of “Aegyo,” and it’s seen as a great charm or talent to have. You can head on over to these blog links to read up on the top 10 Male (HERE) and Female (HERE) idols, that the writer noted for having great “Aegyo,” abilities- which I must agree with!

I suppose I can understand how and why this whole “Aegyo,” thing works for Korean celebs, fans and society; for a man to show his cute side, (some) women, might instinctively be more attracted to them and want to look after them. For women to put on the “Aegyo” act, men (similarly) want to look after them and be their prince-charming. But from my perspective- most male idols are pretty effeminate to begin with, and add Aegyo to this, just doesn’t appeal to me. Similarly, female Korean celebs mostly seem to be favour the (opposite to Western) female image of helplessness- must they empathise this more by acting Aegyo too? However, you can’t argue with the majoritive- as most KPop fans LOVE their idols delivering Aegyo. I think it works, psychologically, because their idols are put on such a high pedestal, but when they act Aegyo, they seem more human and vulnerable- so fans, naturally, want to take care of them and find them more attractive as a result. Also, maybe it’s because most KPop fans fall within a certain age group of being in their early teens to early twenties, when acting ‘cute,’ is still naturally part of their make up?

Hmm, the only time I seem to favour Aegyo is a result of what I’d call “Reverse Psychology,” when a physically and mentally strong KPop idol (such as Rain) occasionally throws some Aegyo down- I don’t want to like it, but I do 😉 Only then (ONLY THEN) might I momentarily re-think my stance on the whole thing, since it’s like you’ve been given a 3 second insight into someone’s character (a sense of vulnerability) which they don’t normally display or use to charm people, or gain sympathy with and makes you want to find out more about them.

Fan Meetings

Super Junior M Fan Meeting in Taiwan

Living halfway across the world, means I am not privy to many KPop things- I can’t just pop down the road to buy their CD’s, I can’t (easily) attend their concerts and I can’t attend any Fan Meetings 😦 Bah Humbug really!

Why do I feel as if I’m seriously missing out by not attending a fan-meeting? Well, KPop fan meetings are taken to another level in Korea, as they are not your usual, meet, greet and I’ll sign your CD, type of thing… oh no… if you’re signed up with your idols’ fan club then you’ll be privy to a private (well, shared with at least 3,000 other fans) time with your idol. You see, most KPop idols, in some point of time will hold a fan-meet where they hire out a hall or auditorium, perform a few songs for their fans and (here’s the killer), simply sit down and chat to their auditorium of fans- maybe even dragging a few fans on stage to exchange gifts. You can read more about a recent fan meeting held by Super Junior M in Taiwan, to get the general idea of what goes down during these fan meets, HERE.

KPop fan meetings play big; fans will shower the foyer of the auditorium with gifts for their idols and idols will come out of their shell (more so than they normally would whilst on TV) to ‘play’ with their fans. It’s all about interaction and being completely privy to a ‘moment,’ that other non-fanclub members will never get to see first hand. I can only see the upside to such events- it’s a win, win situation where fan and idol can “feel the love.”

I just hope that with the increasing globalisation of KPop, more international fans will get to experience such events or acts of ‘fan-service’ from their idols but that international KPop fans (newbies or sunbaes alike) will learn to understand more and appreciate the things idols do to show their fans some love…the above, few acts of fan-service I’ve briefly written about are just the tip of the iceberg really!

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Posted in: K-Pop Newbie