Yena Lee

Feminist K-pop Fans and their Connective Action on Twitter
Media Studies
Spring 2018

The past two years have been a time of painful awakening for Korea as the country witnessed a deeply polemic gender war previously unprecedented in Korean society. Within K-pop fandom, a series of fan-initiated hashtags such as #WeWantBTSFeedback has started publicizing and demanding feedback for issues of misogyny in K-pop industry and idol star texts. In this research, I will explore how the recent feminism revival in Korea has fostered a discourse on identity politics within K-pop fandom by examining the feminist narrative of the 21st century Korea, history, and characteristics of K-pop fandom, Twitter as both a counterpublic for alternative voices within fandom and a contested site of boundary construction and identity negotiation. By means of virtual ethnography on Twitter, grounded-theory driven thematic analysis, and in-depth interviews, I attempt to answer the following questions. How did the feminism revival in Korea influence the ways fans interpret and relate to K-pop star text, fandom community, and its practices? What are the topics and themes of the online debate surrounding the recent feminist activism within K-pop fandom? How do fans articulate and contest feminist ideas on Twitter and what insight does this give on intra-fandom normalization of behavior? This research contributes to the literature on fan studies by going beyond the “good” versus “bad” fan dichotomy to explore different ways fans invoke, perform, and negotiate individual and collective identities in the context of the transforming cultural, social, and economic landscape of Korea.