Being a fan girl of a South Korean artist can be highly effective in damaging one’s social life and mental health.
Additionally, being a fan girl can also lead to people spending a large amount of money to show their support for an idol. South Korean fan clubs sometimes raise thousands of dollars and donate to charities in honour of their idol, or buy expensive birthday gifts to give to their idols.
International fans use their money for other means.
Twenty-two year-old Ezabel Dominique Siek, a kindergarten teacher from Singapore, said she spent an estimated $1,000 US when she was a superfan of South Korean boyband, Boyfriend.
Siek was one of the many fans around the world who discovered Korean Pop, more commonly known as K-pop, music and, who spent hundreds of dollars to show their support for their idol.
Her expenses covered trips to South Korea to see the group, buying gifts to give to a specific group member, albums and concerts tickets.
She would also buy duplicates of albums or other merchandise, like mugs or support towels, and have giveaway contests so that fellow fans could get a copy that could not be as easily obtained in their countries.
“I realized that I was really old and Boyfriend has a lot of younger fans, like 15 to 16 and I was 20, 21. I just grew out of it. Age made me realize I got to stop,” says Siek.
It has been 20 months since she slipped away from her fan girl habits for the group and has moved onto another artist.
Many of the existing South Korean groups have fan club names, such as “Best Friends” for Boyfriend.
Recent Youtube Video of the Year recipient Girls’ Generation, more commonly known as So Nyeo Shi Dae or SNSD, has a fan club known as SONES.
Defining which group a person is part of can be dangerous.
In 2008, an entire stadium went black except one section that waved its pink glowsticks in support for Girls’ Generation.
Many of these situations are known as known as the “black sea,” as a result of wars between fan clubs. Some, are over small things like the colours of their light sticks, reputations and names of upcoming groups that resemble another fan club.
Prior to Girls’ Generation’s debut, it was rumoured that the nine-member girl group would be a female version to labelmate Super Junior, which had thirteen members at the time.
Christina Prem, 22, was a fan of Girls’ Generation in the past, but she says she’s been a fan of Super Junior for five years.
She says she had spent more than $100 Canadian and had to withdraw from the “life of a fan” many times.
On an average day, she spends two hours learning about the latest news on her idol. When she’s not in school, she spends a full day researching
Prem is in charge of a livejournal blog called SJHouse, where the latest news of the now-fifteen-member group Super Junior is posted. She says she wanted to create a community where people can get their news and be more interactive with each other.
However, she says that there’s a definite borderline when engrossing herself in the latest K-pop news.
“If you are constantly looking up your idol, or stalking their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram every hour, it gets really obsessive. I think there’s a point when that kind of obsession turns into almost stalking in a way,” says Prem.
Fans who have been known to stalk these idols have also been given the term “sasaeng.” They take photos of hotels, break into hotel rooms to get autographs and some have also threatened other fans with knives.
In September, fans of boy-band EXO crashed the wedding of a member’s brother to take pictures of the group and the members headed for Weibo to let out their frustrations.
Prem says that she hasn’t come across fans who are overboard because she’s focusing on making sure she’s not crossing the line for herself.