By Amalia Theocharidou,
As the culture of K-pop has started to gain more and more fame and interest, one can say it has conquered the world. It is rare that nowadays anyone hasn’t come across not even once a K-pop song or at least know a K-pop star. As the fans have started to increase and the influence of the young and good-looking stars has skyrocketed, a new kind of fangirls and fanboys have made their appearance creating havoc and worry to the Korean music scene. The sasaeng fans.
A sasaeng is an obsessive fan who doesn’t stop to just streaming music and reposting posts. As the term means private life, the purpose of these fans is to intrude their favorite celebrity’s life in hopes to become a part of it. The ultimate goal for some is to become a memory to them. For others it goes even deeper. Sherliza Moé, a Korean Youtuber who interviewed a former sasaeng revealed that for some, their aim is destroying the idol’s life out of hatred. Their thinking process is “if I can’t have him, no one can”. Sasaengs have a long activity of selling or even buying idols’ personal information, family’s phone numbers or bribing hotel employees for some hours in their idol’s hotel room while they’re absent.
But to better understand what is a sasaeng, let’s have a look at some of the most shocking incidents. In 2019, a couple of BTS sasaengs paid their way into the idols’ rooms. After they got in, they started using the members’ personal hygiene products as well as jumping on their bed and stealing their clothes. To celebrate their “achievement”, they even posted a picture of themselves in their bathroom. BTS’ company, Hybe, took severe measures regarding the incident and from now on they pay to book the entire hotel floor as well as setting security guards (Dhan, 2019). BTS’ member, V, also made a statement regarding such issues, pleading fans to stop going overboard just to meet them, saying how this is scaring him and also the other members.
Singer and actress Lee Bon, also opened up about her abduction story. After a long day of filming she was heading back to her car when she was attacked and knocked off. When she woke up, she realized she was in a stranger’s room. Hearing the ongoing conversation outside, she found out that her abductors were actually sasaeng fans that went overboard to see her. After trying to resonate with them, one of them proposed to her offering her a sports car that she declined multiple times and was set free (Kim, 2020).
The BTS members have a long time ago stopped using common airlines and travel with private jets instead. That is to avoid crazy fan interactions such as this one. While the BTS members were on board, one of them, Jimin, used the cabin’s bathroom. Not even a minute later after he came, another female passenger did the same. Turns out the girl was another BTS sasaeng that not only tried to collect his garbage but also took pictures of her licking the toilet seat of the plane because it was apparently touched by Jimin.
During the last years, it is a bit comforting to see more and more idols speak up or react over the scary incidents that can even physically hurt them. The idols started to break the perfect image their companies wanted them to have and dropped the fake smiles no matter the situation. Also, the Korean culture has started to point out and criticize sasaengs publically. In 2019, the year that most of the scary events took place, a Korean series called “Her private life” was released. The series showcase the obsessive behavior of the female lead with an idol that she follows around and tries to sneak pictures from. Throughout the series, we see how she progresses and realizes how toxic she was being to a person she admired.
Idols bring joy and smiles to the faces of millions of fans all around the world. But what these fans forget is that they’re just singers. Sometimes, their one-sided bond with the celebrity reaches a deeper level as some would say, “I wake up in the morning just for them” or “They’re my only reason to live”. But what cost does that have for the idol? Is it really sane to destroy another person’s personal life just so you can have more attention?
- Dhan. (2019). Bighit made a statement regarding the issue of sasaeng fans breaking into BTS’s hotel room. Available here
- Kim, K. (2020]). Veteran Female Idol Confesses The Horrifying Story About How She Was Kidnapped By A Male Sasaeng Fan. Available here