Posted by : Kai Lin August 10, 2013


The recent news release of EXOtics (unofficial fanclub of EXO) being banned from Inkigayo has once again brought to light the issue of EXO's sasaeng fans, as well as to the whole sasaeng fan nation.

In K-pop, there are fangirls, fanboys, maybe haters... and then there are the sasaeng fans. The simple fact that you're reading this post right here right now presumably makes you a part of the first or second category, but even then, the term 'sasaeng fan' will probably not be an unfamiliar one to you. Because of the ethical issues that it encapsulates, sasaeng fans are often put into the spotlight. To contextualize the concept of sasaeng fans, I quote Wikipedia (and soompi), where sasaeng fans are defined as excessively obsessed Hallyu fans who stalk their idols and invade their idols' privacy with questionable methods. 

THE WHY
There is truly no way to decipher what is going on in the heads when they do what they do, and there are definitely many exceptions. But I believe the generalized reason that motivates sasaeng fans to pursue their idols is because their actions centralize around the self

True K-Pop fans display genuine and innocent love for their idols, which means always doing what's beneficial to them. This could be going all out to support them through the purchasing of albums or turning up at fansigning/concert events without fail. We desire for them to win awards, which is part of the larger idea of wanting them to reach their goals in life, wanting to assist them in their careers and to protect what is theirs. This is true love, and it really is beautiful. 

Sasaeng fans on the other hand are motivated by self-seeking goals, looking only towards their personal benefits. In one aspect, they could be desperate to receive any form of attention or notice from their idols because it gives them a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction in which they can find security. A former Sasaeng fan interviewed on Cultwo's Veranda Show confessed that she became one "Because I can talk with the celebrities directly. When I'm around their dorms or wherever, I can let myself be known to them and I can have a conversation with them. We can become close so that's why I would go there. Whenever a celebrity notices me, I feel satisfisfaction. Possessiveness." 

Yet in another aspect, they could be chasing after their idols simply to experience personal exhilaration. It eventually might become some form of addiction and Sasaeng fans find it hard or are reluctant to break out of this habit. Another Sasaeng fan interviewed on the same show confessed that "Just to see them for three seconds, we wait thirty minutes because we like those three seconds. We would use the newspapers as bed sheets and sleep in front of their dorms. At first we did it because we like the members, but later on we did it because we became addicted to it. The sasaeng taxis (taxis you can rent which are specifically for sasaeng stalking duties) follow the celebrities' vans really well. The sasaeng taxis even compete with each other. While riding in a sasaeng taxi, I realized that I could end up dying this way." 

All in all, I feel that whatever sasaeng fans have for their idols is definitely not love (which is not selfish). I actually started this post out of anger at what sasaeng fans do to EXO (yes, I am starting to love EXO and hence the title What is Love). But now that I read what Sasaeng fans say, I kind of do feel sympathetic towards them. They lack security, self-confidence and self-worth, they lack dreams and ambitions in life, they lack the conviction to change their ways, they lack values and a moral compass to direct their actions. 


THE CONSEQUENCES
The most direct consequence is undoubtedly the implication that the actions of Sasaeng fans have on their idols. Idols have their privacy invaded, have their bodies wrongfully violated, and may suffer from emotional and psychological torment. 


Image of EXO-M's Tao at a hotel taken by a sasaeng
Another reason is that sasaeng fans have no values, specifically the value of respect. Respect is something required of any decent human being, be it respect for the people around you and respect for yourself. True fans have respect, and they have it in full. They keep a distance from their biases even if it requires their utmost amount of force to suppress the urge to run up to them and kiss them, because they want to protect the personal space of their idols. And when they do actually receive hugs from their biases, it is under idol consent. This is extremely admirable behavior of fans. Sasaeng fans on the other hand have complete disrespect for their idols and themselves. They go all out to invade their privacy, and in fact feel satisfaction and accomplishment in doing so, even if it means that their own dignity is compromised. 

In response to seeing himself being filmed at the hotel, Tao updated his weibo, which you can read it here. Tao isn't particularly one of my biases from EXO, but what he said there tugged really hard on my heartstrings. We talk about idols chasing their dreams and how they shouldn't ever lose sight of their goals, but perhaps we have never considered how arduous the idol road that they have to endure is. To finally say that you're sick and tired of being in the industry, one that you have trained and sacrificed so much to fight for a spot in, is definitely not an overnight affair - something must have pushed you to the limits of your tolerance. In this case, it was the Sasaeng fans.

I don't believe that Tao was demanding in his requests. He simply wanted sincere fans that appreciated who he was on stage. And I think that if Sasaeng fans put in the effort, they can do it. They need to humble themselves, and imagine the miserable life without their idols. Then, it'll definitely be easy to switch from a 'Come notice me!' to a 'Thank you for making music!' mentality. 

CONCLUSION
To sum it all up, I would like to bring in a biblical verse (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) that truly describes what love is. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." With this is mind, I reiterate that what Sasaeng fans have for their idols is definitely not love. Hence, I am against Sasaeng fans. 

What is your take on sasaeng fans? Do comment below!
Credits to allkpop.com for Cultwo's Veranda Show. Do read up on what EXO has experienced from Sasaeng fans at sites such as this

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{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I remember when a sasaeng took a voice recording of EXO-M's Tao singing Crayon in the shower here: http://kpopranter.blogspot.com/2013/08/cray-cray-exotics-banned-from-inkigayo.html


    People were actually thanking the sasaeng fan as if it's 100% normal to do that.
    Really disgusting, tbh.

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  2. Sick person, no matter how much you love your idols...it's just wrong

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  3. I feel as if idol culture and the constant bombardment of media in people's faces kinda encourages some people with less than sane minds to act upon their urges of obsessing over their idols to the extent of a sasaeng fan.

    This is especially true of the EXO fandom. I have a liking towards EXO's music and their personalities individually, but there is no doubt that EXO is one of the most media-heavy idol groups out there compared to others. An example would be Tumblr, where a dedicated fanbase of EXO's is constantly reblogging and posting pictures of them from multiple angles in multiple events, and gifs and macros. I recently found a article that says EXO is second most popular tag on Tumblr, right beside the first which is One Direction. I'm not saying that Tumblr is encouraging sasaeng behaviour, but from Tumblr we can see some really civil fans who take their time to spend on reblogging and posting these photos, not to mention obtaining them in the first place.

    What more the situation in Korea cuz its their home base (excluding the Chinese members but you get what I mean). They have a tremendous amount of access to find where their favourite idols are. Their schedules and the such. The power of media and constant servings of their favourite idols on their faces has created such a dilemma that I don't really know what is going to happen to EXO if this keeps going on. Especially what the previous article said about John Lennon being murdered by a supposed fan.

    Enough of the rant. But I do believe that social media is not the only factor in the emergence of sasaeng fans. There are many others.

    I do wonder what will the situation be like in other countries when they visit them. I mean EXO will be coming to my home country of Malaysia for an event in September. Will there be any local sasaengs as well? I hope not. I really hope not. But I might be wrong.

    Thanks for the article. =)

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  4. Sasaeng Fans are the result of the "screaming girl" phenomenon. See, when there's a room full of young immature girls watching a performance of astrictive men all it takes is one girl to scream in admiration and every girl in a 2 mile radius will follow. SM entertainment has mastered this phenomenon and used it to cash in on the hormones of thousands of emotional girls.

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  5. I think most of it is the exhilaration factor. I think it might be the same kind the rush that criminals get when stealing or breaking and entering. Like when you did something really bad when you were younger and got a thrill out of it. Soo.... basically, sasaeng fans = criminal mentality.

    I also think part of it is trying to find out how idols really are outside of variety shows and such. I mean, I have the desire to find out as well. But unlike sasaeng fans, us fangirls/fanboys (but mostly fangirls to be honest) respect other people's privacy.

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  6. Exactly, how would you feel if you had hundreds or even more stalkers following you around everyday and recording you in the shower?

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