PH No. 5 on global list of K-pop tweets
If retweets and likes were weapons, one “army” would always be fully loaded. We refer, of course, to the BTS Army, or the legion of loyal fans of internationally famous K-pop sensation BTS.
Last year alone, a video tweet by BTS member Jungkook’s video of him dancing to Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” received more than a million retweets (and two and a half million likes), earning the title of Golden Tweet, or the most retweeted tweet, of 2019, says a recently released Twitter report.
According to the social media platform, the number of conversations surrounding Korean pop, not just BTS, hit record-high numbers last year, receiving 6.1 billion tweets from all over the world, which represents a 15 percent increase from 2018’s figure.
Moreover, the data shows that Filipino K-pop fans are some of the most influential movers behind this online phenomenon.
The Philippines is No. 5 on the list of countries that tweeted the most about K-pop in 2019. Topping the list isn’t even South Korea (it’s No. 2), but Thailand; Indonesia is in third place, while the United States takes the fourth spot.
The rest of the top 10 include Brazil, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, and Argentina.
Additionally, countries such as Canada, France, Great Britain, India, and Turkey were among the top 20 countries that were tweeting the most about #KpopTwitter.
According to local entertainment professional Kring Kim, president of full-service media production company Key Elements Creative Media, Twitter is really the platform where K-pop fandom thrives, even in the Philippines, where Facebook is more widely used.
“If you really want to know more about the artists and if you want to connect with other K-pop fans, then you need to go on Twitter,” says Kim, who adds that she has been a fan, too, since 2003. “I’m on Twitter a lot because I feel most of the breaking news are there.”
According to Twitter’s report, 2019’s most discussed K-pop idol accounts included those of (who else?) BTS (@BTS_twt), EXO (@weareoneEXO) and GOT7 (@GOT7Official).
The platform, however, also saw a trend of individual team member accounts gaining more popularity, such as Baekhyun (@B_hundred_Hyun) of EXO and BamBam (@BamBam1a) of GOT7.
According to Kim, Twitter is also where K-pop fans go not just for news about their idols but also to interact with them.
Online events such as #TwitterBlueroom, a live question and answer series, facilitates such interaction, and last year, Twitter Korea hosted 67 sessions.
According to the report, among the sessions that took place last year, SuperM (@SuperM), the supergroup that consists of representative K-pop idol members, broke the record for the most watched #KpopTwitter Blueroom, with over two million viewers.
High level of talent
So what exactly makes K-pop so, well, popular, especially among Western culture-patronizing Filipinos? According to Kim, it’s really all about the level of talent that K-pop offers.
One newly converted Army member, communications professional Rissa Camongol, says she is in awe at how one song could contain so many music genres—and still sound good.
“And everyone in the group is really talented and has something to offer, unlike the usual boy or girl band wherein there’s always a lead singer, and you know there’s one member that isn’t really singing,” Camongol says.
Kim shares the same sentiment. “It’s different for everyone, but generally, when I talk to [fans], it’s always about how excellent K-pop idols are in terms of performances. Even back in the day, when there were boy bands and girl bands, nobody performed as tight and as clean [as Kpop groups],” she says.
Kim has been organizing Korean entertainment events for almost two decades, including the first Philippine K-pop Convention in 2009, which is the biggest organization of K-pop fans in the Philippines. Now, she also does YouTube videos on Korea and its culture.
“My husband is Korean. For a lot of people, K-pop and K-culture is a hobby, but for me, it’s my life,” says Kim. “I’m in Korea almost every month and I get so much access to these shows. So that’s why I started vlogging on YouTube to share all these information, especially for those interested in traveling to Korea, K-pop fandom and K-drama fandom.”
Alona Guevarra, a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University and another K-pop fan, believes that this form of entertainment “provides an alternative to the dominant Western music which has othered Asian music for a long time.”
As an academic, Guevarra does research not just on K-pop but hallyu (“Korean wave”), or the tremendous growth of Korean culture all around the world. She says has also been teaching a BTS song in her Literature class since 2015, as part of the discussion of rap as poetry.
And while they are a powerful force on social media, K-pop fans also have a huge sense of real-world community.
According to Guevarra, K-pop fan groups are also philanthropic. In fact, a quick scan of tweets by local Army Twitter accounts show documentation of their organized relief efforts for Taal Volcano eruption victims.
Even non-K-pop fans would definitely say, we stan. INQ
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