Every time a given idol has a scandal, K-Netizens are quick to jump in, hype it up, and take it to extreme levels, whether it’s T-ara, Baekhyun and Taeyeon, or Park Bom. If K-Netizens feel wronged or that the idols wronged someone else, they will make a big deal about it. And while most of the reasons behind the different backlashes seem outrageous and extreme to I-Fans (international fans), there’s no denying that these fangirls and boys have a sizable amount of power over the artists that ultimately affect their careers, which is respectable. But are they wrong for doing so? No, not really.
A few weeks ago, as I read K-Netizen’s hate comments recompiled by different news sources on the Baekhyun and Taeyeon dating scandal, I struggled to understand their rationale: they opened their IG accounts for the fans and instead used them to deceive us by sending hidden messages to each other. They made fools out of us and must apologize to us. Crazy, right? Well, if you look past the obvious façade of the argument (I mean, you’re really just mad they’re dating, don’t try to falsely rationalize it!), it does have truth in its roots. The K-Netizen’s actual rationale for this particular scandal is that they feel entitled to these people’s careers because they built them up and got them to where they stand. It’s grim to think that the same people who willingly turned a person into a star could finish them, but this is actually not delusional, as some I-Fans call K-Netizens.
Yes, fans shouldn’t have a say in an idol’s personal life –but that’s not the point. K-Netizens raise a good point in saying that they, the fans and thus the consumers, should take a stand when they don’t like something and have the industry accommodate them. The Baekhyun and Taeyeon ordeal was not the best example of this because netizens made a fuss about their personal lives (which shouldn’t be meddled with), so let’s take the T-ara bullying scandal of 2012.
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After attending a prestigious concert in Japan, now former member (then current) Hwayoung only performed one song because of a hurt ankle. Allegedly, this caused several T-ara members to tweet passive aggressive messages about determination and loyalty, which seemed to be directed at Hwayoung, raising red flags about them bullying her. K-netizens then started policing all of T-ara’s TV appearances and pictures to uncover instances of bullying, and they found an overwhelming amount of them. Because of this, Core Contents Media held a press conference and denied the bullying allegations, which only made people believe it was a cover up. From then on, things just kept escalating until Hwayoung was kicked out of the group, which was not well received by fans.
K-netizens felt upset that the original T-ara members were bullying Hwayoung and, what’s more, made her leave the group, so they took matters into their own hands. Thousands of fans left T-ara’s fan club, and tickets for their first solo concert were returned. Their biggest fan cafe closed, and an online petition for the group to disband started circulating the web. Furthermore, because of the controversy, Eunjung was pulled from We Got Married and the drama Five Fingers dropped her before production even started. Advertisers also began dropping T-ara as a group, such as Tony Moly. All this resulted in T-ara laying low for a while, only to return a couple of months later with Day by Day, but it’s safe to say that they didn’t garnish as much popularity as they once had prior to the whole incident.
Conclusion: K-netizens almost successfully destroyed T-ara’s career, and that’s respectable. They took a stand over something they knew was wrong, organized effectively, and managed to affect their careers temporarily. Imagine if people in the West and the rest of the world would do the same with “badly behaving” artists like Chris Brown, or Justin Bieber? People tend to forget that, as consumers, our buys count. If we stop buying products from artists who do shady things, we’d have artists with better characters and thus better role models. K-netizens understand this, and that is why it’s not delusional of them to feel entitled to their idol’s career (again, but not their personal lives).
This, of course, doesn’t mean that everything that K-netizens do on all scandals is right. Recently, K-netizens targeted Park Bom for her defunct 2010 case of “drug smuggling,” as yellow journalists have called it. Even though police dismissed the case, netizens are making a big deal over it and have even caused Bom to go on hiatus from SBS’ variety program Roommate.
Nevertheless, in its basic essence –consumers taking matters into their own hands and holding suppliers accountable– K-netizens have it right. It’s a shame how netizens have turned into these monsters who regularly affect idols’ personal lives. But if they were to get it together and focus on their idols as public figures and not private ones, they would be in the right.