illions of dollars in donations. Viral hashtag domination. Ticket interference at Trump rallies. These might sound like the actions of a highly-coordinated political or philanthropic campaign. In reality, it’s the work of a broad coalition of K-pop fans. Over the past few months, the power of K-pop fans to make their values known has become a hot topic of media conversation.
But for those who have been paying close attention, the impact of K-pop’s fans on our present political discourse should not come as a surprise. Accustomed to mobilizing quickly online, and often holding progressive values, fans of K-pop groups like BTS, Stray Kids, Monsta X and Loona are uniquely prepared to organize and succeed in their choices of online activism. They have been known to deploy their influence over the years in the service of causes ranging from human rights campaigns to education programs, often in the names of the idols they support.
The millions of supporters of different groups, both within the U.S. and beyond, are hardly a demographic or political monolith, however.
“K-pop fans aren’t just K-pop fans. It’s not a binary; that’s dehumanizing,” says Tamar Herman, a pop correspondent for Billboard and author of the upcoming book BTS: Blood, Sweat & Tears. “It’s not just K-pop fans who are doing this. It’s Black people who are K-pop fans who are doing this, it’s allies who want to support Black Lives Matter who are K-pop fans who are doing this.”