Fan activism, cybervigilantism, and Othering mechanisms in K-pop fandom


  • Sun Jung Victoria University



Antifandom, Fancom, Jae-Beom, JYJ, Korean popular culture, Tablo, TVXQ


Korean popular music (K-pop) fandom may serve as a case study to identify both cynical and utopian views of fans' participatory Net activism by addressing three key aspects: fan activism, cybervigilantism, and Othering mechanisms. Fancom (fan company) in the K-pop scene refers to the way fans systematically manage their own stars. These notions of assertive fancom practices address how fans actively participate in sociocultural events such as fund raising, donating to charity, and volunteering in emergency situations. This management may take another turn, however: antifandom surrounds K-pop star Tablo, signifying cybervigilantism of sinsang teolgi (personal information theft), a term referring to the online activities of a group of netizens who seek to expose the personal details of perceived wrongdoers by publishing them online as a form of punishment. The Tablo case revitalized public concern over privacy and the security of personal information in the digital era. Finally, Othering mechanisms in participatory online K-pop fandom display a strong sense of nationalism and even racism, as demonstrated by responses to anti-Korean rhetoric posted on the MySpace page of K-pop idol Jae-Beom. This highlights the relationship between participatory Net activism and nationalistic sentiment active within K-pop fandom. Some K-pop fan practices may have negative connotations, but by engaging with specific civic issues and social events, participatory fan practices encourage people to interact, discuss, and challenge conventional discourses, which may lead to new forms of social action.