Consider it or not, it has been roughly one month because the final set up of “Kacie on Ok-pop” ran. Since then, so much has occurred in my private life: plenty of skipped courses, a couple of remedy periods and too many iced Dulce lattes to depend.
Once I’m going by way of issues, I flip to on-line purchasing as considered one of my foremost sources of solace. They are saying cash cannot purchase happiness, however within the capitalist atmosphere during which we dwell, typically I actually suppose it could actually. However as an alternative of spending most of my disposable revenue on meals or books, most of my additional funds go towards fueling my love for Ok-pop — bodily CDs and merchandise, clothes and make-up from manufacturers that accomplice with my favourite artists and live performance tickets make up the majority of my nonessential purchases.
Once I first turned a Ok-pop fan, I used to be 16 years previous with little to no disposable revenue. The one approach I might interact with my idols was by watching the content material they launched without cost on YouTube or V Stay or streaming their music on Spotify, and I used to be OK with that. In actual fact, I beloved it; the evening I spontaneously pulled an all-nighter to observe all of the episodes of my idols’ selection present in existence remains to be considered one of my fondest recollections.
But, over time, I started to note that different followers of my favourite group on the time would commerce photograph playing cards with one another (photograph playing cards I by no means had as a result of I couldn’t purchase any albums) or had seen sure forms of unique content material (content material I by no means watched as a result of I couldn’t entry it behind their paywalls). Though I had been a fan for a couple of months at this level, I felt as if my fan credibility was lessened as a result of I wasn’t as devoted financially to the group’s success.
Whereas under no circumstances is it obligatory to make these kinds of purchases to be a fan of a Ok-pop artist, the unstated guidelines of many Ok-pop fandoms counsel that followers who’ve cash are extra priceless, and even thought of higher, followers to their idols. Not solely do these followers have bodily gadgets to show as “proof” of being a fan, in addition they have tangible proof of their assist for his or her artists — paying for Korean music platform streaming passes to spice up their idols’ songs on the charts, or shopping for memberships to mock textual content chat platforms to “message” their idols and official fan membership memberships to offer much more cash to their idols’ administration firms. These paid actions not solely profit the fan, however in principle, they’re additionally a option to give again to their idols.
Equally, the shortage of alternatives to work together straight with Ok-pop artists contributes to a tradition of clout surrounding followers who’re capable of pay massive sums of cash for these alternatives. When followers are “acknowledged” by their idols for having interacted with them at a number of occasions or concert events, these followers are sometimes thought of “higher” and are idolized by different followers.
In the course of the coronavirus pandemic, many Ok-pop administration firms started providing fansign occasions nearly. A possibility for followers to satisfy their favourite idols in particular person and get a bodily copy of the artists’ album signed, fansigns had been historically solely supplied in South Korea, making it extraordinarily troublesome for worldwide followers to get the identical type of publicity to their idols with out spending a big sum of money to get there.
But, when the occasions had been supplied extra steadily on-line, it turned quite common for international followers to enter and win alternatives to video name their idols. These calls had been usually screen-recorded and posted on-line, opening up much more alternatives for followers with extra money to be seen as “higher” followers than those that did not have the monetary means to take part in these occasions.
I distinctly keep in mind a time in the course of the pandemic when it felt like every considered one of my pals had participated in a digital fansign occasion with their favourite idol, with the screen-recorded movies of calls being all that I’d see on-line. At the moment, I hadn’t been capable of take part in an analogous expertise, and admittedly, it did make me query my credibility as a fan, regardless that I used to be already spending cash on different actions my idols supplied and would finally attend a digital fansign myself.
Now, 5 years after I initially turned a fan and, admittedly, some huge cash spent on my favourite artists later, I believe it is fascinating to mirror on the tie between cash and perceived fan loyalty within the Ok-pop neighborhood. After spending a lot of my disposable revenue on the actions of my idols, you’ll suppose that I really feel like a “higher” fan due to it.
Am I extra loyal to my favourite artists as a result of I am financially invested of their success? Am I happier once they do nicely as a result of I really feel as if I contributed one thing to them? Maybe.
However once I look again on my time as a Ok-pop fan, I nonetheless consider that the time once I was most devoted to my chosen artists was on the very starting — once I was giving them my time greater than something. Within the capitalist trade that’s Ok-pop, maybe it is time to do not forget that real love is free.
Kacie Yamamoto is a senior writing about Korean pop music. She can be the editor-in-chief of the Each day Trojan. Her column of hers “Kacie on Ok-pop” runs each different Friday.