Once-loyal fans speak out against celebrities : Fan clubs have rescinded their support for stars behaving badly

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Once-loyal fans speak out against celebrities : Fan clubs have rescinded their support for stars behaving badly


Moon Hee-jun

Celebrities were once seen as untouchable - almost as if they were gods. And their fans merely supported them in any way they could. That’s why many were stunned last month when a group of fans of the legendary boy band H.O.T. released a statement withdrawing their support for one of the members of the group - Moon Hee-jun.

In Korea, the concept of official fan clubs started with H.O.T., the five-member group. They were the hottest boy group of the late 90s, and many fans flocked to television stations to catch a glimpse of the group during its prime.

The artist’s fans, a majority of which were in their teens, would dish out whatever they could gather to purchase the newest merchandise or get a ticket to live shows. A culture critic, who uses Kim Zakka as his pseudonym, said, “H.O.T.’s fan club - the ones that started the whole culture of fan clubs - showed unconditional loyalty to the members of the group.”

Even after the disbandment of the group in 2001, the loyal fans stood by the artists for each of their individual ventures for 20 long years, still hoping for the group to come together just like old times.


Above: A statement from H.O.T. fans withdrawing their support from Moon Hee-jun. He is pictured top left. [JOONGANG ILBO]

But recently, the members of H.O.T. Minor Gallery on forum website DC Inside, a small gathering of fans of the legendary boy group, released a statement withdrawing their support for the group’s leader Moon.

On May 20, fans released the statement roughly translated to “Withdrawal of support of Moon Hee-jun.” They announced their intent to boycott Moon on five grounds - his attitude towards fans, deceiving fans with an undeniable lie, poor concert quality, disrespecting members and imprudent statements about H.O.T. uniting and illegal sales of goods and possible tax evasion.

They stressed that the withdrawal of support wasn’t due to Moon’s recent marriage with girl group Crayon Pop’s member, Soyul, in February.

The statement concluded with, “We believe these actions harm not only his own reputation, but also the memories we have of H.O.T and the reputation of the remaining members.”

Kim Zakka sees this as a turning point of the relationship between fans and celebrities. “Like I said, fans were unconditionally loyal to celebrities. This event shows a change in the 20 or so years of the relationship, which has now become mutual, political - much like business partners.”

Four days after the boycott statement, Moon offered an apology through his agency for disappointing his fans, but didn’t offer any specifics regarding the charges listed by the fans.

This is not the first time a loyal fan base officially boycotted an artist. In June of 2016, DC Inside’s JYJ Gallery released a statement regarding their boycott of Park Yoo-chun.

Park was accused of sexual assault by two individuals at the time, which would later be increased to four individuals accusing Park of rape.

The gallery said, “As of June 17 2016, DC JYJ Gallery will only support Kim Jae-joong and Kim Jun-su. We are deeply disappointed and angered at Park Yoo-chun, who toppled 13 years of trust and love.”

Lee Seung-ah, professor of Asian Languages & Cultures at UCLA, attributes this change in manner of almost “worshipping” artists to boycotting them, a change in the fans’ perceptions.

“Fans these days do have a clear understanding that they are consumers to these artists and agencies. Any frustrations they have will result in boycotts and protests.”

Lee Taek-gwang, professor of School of Global Communication at Kyung Hee University, said that, “These days, fans may start out from a simple liking, but what makes them stay as fans is how the celebrities ultimately treat them. If they feel that they are treated unfairly, they will lash out and express that very emotion.

“Celebrities need to look at their fandoms in a business perspective. The relationship between the fandom is so important to the celebrity. It can be a plus, but poisonous as well. That is why celebrities need to manage the fandoms very carefully,” added Lee.

Kim Zakka also noted the importance of the political turmoil Korea went through over the past few months. “Supporters of Park Geun-hye were unconditional supporters of [her father and former president] Park Chung-hee. They were kind of like fans that showed unconditional support regardless of any wrongdoings by the celebrity. However, many fans realized that unconditional love was unwarranted for celebrities that indulge in heinous acts.”

BY KIM JUNG-KYOON [kim.jungkyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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