Fan clubs cheer, clap - and cry rape

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Fan clubs cheer, clap - and cry rape

Some 100 singer-celebrities attended the filming of the Idol Star Athletics Championships at Jamsil Gymnasium Sunday, which will be aired over Lunar New Year on MBC. They included members of Beast, M-Blaq, Dal Shabet, Brown Eyed Girls, Jewelry, U-Kiss, A-Pink, B1A4 and Secret.

But if you checked the Internet that evening, the real action was taking place in the stands, where two fan clubs faced off against each other in a no-holds-barred gang fight that escalated to kidnappings, arrests and a gang rape.

If you believe the Internet, that is.

The battling teenyboppers were fans of two idol groups fairly new to the K-pop scene: Dal Shabet, a six-member female group, and B1A4, a boy band with five members. (Four have blood type B, and one has blood type A, which explains the group’s name.)

The two fan clubs have had it in for each other ever since the bands they idolize performed jointly at a year-end concert broadcast on SBS in December. Apparently the fans were upset that the boy band members were interacting a little too much with the girl group, and one of the girl performers didn’t show proper respect to the boy band.

So tension was high Sunday when the two fan clubs encountered each other in the stands in Jamsil. What actually happened is unknown, only what was reported on the Internet.

One of the fans reported live from Jamsil: “Members of fan club A hurled instant ramen cups and water bottles at members of fan club B.” He posted a picture of the scene.

Following that, another attendee wrote on Twitter that two older boys “are on standby right now at the Sports Complex station to rape a girl walking alone.”

That tweet was retweeted by many people, and rape rumors spread.

Another person tweeted: “Because of a gang rape, the police and guards apprehended three people.”

But it was all fiction. Jamsil police said they received a report about a 15-year-old middle school girl who couldn’t be contacted Sunday at 3:57 a.m. It was false. The girl was safe in her home in Busan.

Lots of people believed, or wanted to believe, the stories. On one Internet portal site yesterday afternoon, “Idol Competition Incident” was the most popular search term.

That the whole thing got out of control was even recognized by the fan who posted the original tweet about the boys waiting to rape a girl. He wrote a contrite message yesterday on Twitter.

“The rumor is spreading more and more,” he wrote, “and things are getting out of hand. I bow my head and apologize.”

Analysts said fans are young and immature, but also that being a fan gives them an escape from their real life.

“When students who feel like outcasts at school are drawn into the fantasy of fandom,” Lee Taek-kwang, professor of U.S. and British culture at Kyung Hee University said, “they develop feelings of wanting to overthrow threats to their existences in the world of being a fan.”

Dreaming up rapes or kidnappings is a way of feeling important in the fan group.


By Jung Won-yeob [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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