[OP-ED This post reflects the opinions of the author and not those of allkpop.]
All K-Pop fans are familiar with fan wars to some extent, regardless of which fandom they belong to. In fact, every time I read an article in my feed, I notice constant rivalries in the comment section and wonder, “Is it really that necessary to always be so angry?”
The idea of fan wars occurred to me when fans of SF9’s Rowoon’s performance in the drama “Extraordinary You” started demanding that he leave the group to become an actor full-time. This instantly sparked a debate. This time, it wasn’t even fans of two different artists but the same. I’m not sure why Rowoon’s fans would want to put him in such a difficult position. Many fans don’t realize the weight of their actions, not only in terms of the negative impacts they create in the K-Pop community but also the uncomfortable positions they place their favorite idols in.
Whether it’s arguing about whether a group is deserving of recognition or about which group works the hardest, there seems to always be something to bicker about online. During BTS’ “Love Yourself” world tour, Jimin received death threats from anti-fans. When Sulli passed away, some in the K-Pop community went as far as to celebrate her death. It’s shocking how ruthless people can be online. While I admit that these are some of the most extreme cases, we still cannot deny that fan wars exist and are a serious issue to be examined.
Some may argue that these fan wars are driven by dedication and passion for the artist. It’s amazing that there are so many people who are more than willing to support their favorite artists. As a matter of fact, it’s what makes me so proud to be a part of the K-Pop community. But at the same time, does this supposed “commitment” really justify such toxic actions, especially when there are unintended negative consequences?
I’d argue that engaging in fan wars show that fans don’t show support for the artist but harm the K-Pop community. In other words, fan wars are merely pointless. EXO-Ls and ARMYs are known for frequently disputing online, yet in reality, EXO members and BTS members have genuine friendships. How awkward must it be for the members of EXO and BTS when their fans are verbally attacking their friends? Perhaps it’s better to show support for artists by celebrating the relationships that they have with other groups in the industry.
Given that the K-Pop community is frequently shunned by Western media, K-Pop fans should prove negative misconceptions wrong by treating each other with the very respect that they show their favorite idols. The K-Pop community has strength in numbers and I trust that fans can collectively show both media and K-Pop artists that fans will be the first to provide support.