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- Sasaeng Fans: What is Love?
Posted by : Kai Lin August 10, 2013
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.
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 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|
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.
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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