Streaming video app lets fans see stars’ daily lives
These days, various individual streaming mobile apps, such as FB Videos and Periscope, have appeared in the midst of the rising popularity of personal broadcasting, in which an individual can release live broadcasts using a smartphone and instantly communicate with viewers by receiving their messages.
Even though V shares characteristics with FB Videos and Periscope in focusing on individual broadcasting, it is differentiated from other similar mobile apps in that it solely features Korean Wave celebrities. And this difference has helped make V popular enough to garner one million downloads from over 170 countries within only two weeks of its release on July 31.
Through V, the public can watch K-pop stars perform trivial daily activities, from exercising to putting on make-up and even hanging out with each other in their practice rooms.
All-female act Girls’ Generation, for instance, revealed their practice room on Aug. 18, in a broadcast in which the eight members showed off choreography from their latest song “Lion Heart” and how they freely hang out when they are not on stage. And during the live broadcast, many of the viewers sent supportive messages, saying that the female stars seem friendlier with their off-stage looks and comfortable clothes.
Actress Park Bo-young, who is enjoying great popularity from her latest drama series “Oh My Ghost,” also streamed a live video on Aug. 17, giving a tour of the program’s filming site.
Through these live videos, many Korean Wave fans are feeling closer to their favorite stars.
“V makes me feel like I’m having a video call with my favorite celebrity, which seems especially true when the TV personality looks into the camera lens while talking,” said a fervent 22-year-old Chinese user named Zhang Nan.
Another function that makes V more appealing is “Chemi-beat.” Short for chemistry beat, the term has been newly coined to express the relationship index between a celebrity and a user. Following stars and watching their videos are methods to increase one’s Chemi-beat. And viewers with high Chemi-beat will get to enjoy various benefits, such as getting to attend an event that a star hosts.
Through its diverse services, V has become a great source of entertainment for Hallyu fans and has also brought enjoyment to celebrities, as it has become the main venue for them to reveal personality traits and abilities they can’t show off on TV.
“Naver’s V app is very useful in that Sistar can communicate with their followers more frequently, and they can also reveal diverse unknown sides of themselves to their fans,” said Choi Si-jung from the female act’s talent agency, Starship Entertainment.
“In fact, many people have shown positive responses [toward Sistar’s appearance on V],” she continued, adding that Sistar is willing to continue appearing on V.
However, with the level of anticipation before the release, some of the users, both Korean and foreigners, have also expressed their disappointment with the mobile app.
A 23-year-old university student named Kim Ji-in, who enjoys listening to ballads, downloaded the application, expecting to see the live stream of her favorite ballad singer, Lyn. However, even after nearly a month, Kim still hasn’t seen the female singer appear on the mobile app.
“I downloaded the app, waiting to see Lyn’s individual broadcast,” she said. “However, I’m a little disappointed that only those idol stars with public popularity seem to be appearing on V.”
In addition, one of the biggest complaints made by foreign followers is language. So far, all the celebrities on the app are speaking in Korean, and videos are seldom translated into English, which makes it very difficult for foreign users to understand.
On the other hand, a fan from the eastern United States also expressed frustration with the mobile app, saying that it is difficult to watch live videos due to the time difference between Korea and her home country.
“I started thinking that maybe this app is only for the convenience of fans living close to or in Korea [since most of the live videos are broadcast between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. Korea time],” wrote the foreign fan on the app’s review page.
Watching the live videos featuring the K-pop stars is considered an important matter to many passionate fans because once the live broadcast is completed, only the shortened version remains available to the public.
In response to such complaints, people affiliated with Naver’s V claim that when the mobile app starts providing official service between late August and early September, after its current trial phase, the app will reflect users’ complaints and feature improvements.
The diversity of celebrities starring in the app, for instance, will gradually increase, even to the extent of covering foreign stars, according to Naver representative Choi Seo-hee.
The mobile app will also soon provide subtitles in English, Chinese and Japanese for foreign viewers once the official version comes out. Simultaneous interpretation will be made available for videos of stars who formally announce their appearances.
Yet, for the Spot Live feature, in which a celebrity releases a short live video without formal notice, it may be difficult to provide simultaneous interpretation service, according to Choi.
In addition, V is also putting forward its best effort to improve the experience of foreign users living far away from Korea.
“Even though a specific plan has not yet been made, Naver is deliberating about allowing the broadcast of full videos to foreign fans who can’t enjoy live videos due to the large time difference,” Choi said.
By JIN MIN-JI