As many of you know, Korean pop culture are going globally involved in music, television series and movies and their fans are all over the world to admire and look up to their idols and often perceive many idols as super beings. With the make up and outfits, visuals along with the wonderful voices, dancing and rapping skills that all idols have, they project a appearance that is appealing for the audience to watch and listen. However, the more they are getting famous, the more their privacy slightly disappear and fans would give more attentions to their private lives.

For being a Kpop idol, an idol’s goal is to present their skills along with their good looking image.  So, their every single actions are being watched by the media! But is this invading their personal lives?

Sometimes we often tend to overlook the fact that they are all humans and have a personal lives as well as Kpop idols are public figure. Now in a sense, K-Pop idols do have the tendency of pleasing us fans, but sometimes there is a limit in how much they can actually please us. And the truth is most of Kpop idols  always revolve their lives on their tight schedules. It is necessary for them to follow their daily schedule like filming music videos, performing on stage at music show programs, doing vlogs etc. So idols have many activities for their promotions and they obviously find very little free time for themselves.

Media Outlets & Entertainment Labels objectifying Kpop idols’ privacy.

Due to the increasing of popularity of Kpop and more attentions to their private lifestyle, daily routine, some media outlets or even their own entertainment labels might create contents related to their daily routine, such as NCT 24hrs relay cam which members are assigned their time period showing their regular activities at that time, to make fans feel like they are approachable and close to them. But what if those contents are without consent of idols? Let me give some example based on true story. There is a photo of behind the scenes of a concert released from official. It was the photo of an idol showing abs while off the stage and it has been talk of the town among fans but it turned out that idol also see that photo at the same time with fans when it is officially released. Of course! The idol can’t say whether he is ok with that or not in public and just appreciate it. It is not legally wrong but practically it is not right because the label did not ask permission from the idol before so fans realized and try not spread this photo.  As high value of idols’ private information, people notice that has much value and can be sold because fans are interested. So some media outlets start to follow them besides their schedules, invade their personal life and reveal their private information like dating news and so on. It is true that this kind of actions might has no harm to idols but it sets high standard and stereotypes of images of Kpop idols and creates problematic fans as well.

From Korean series “Her Private Life” showing how fans react when dating news revealed.

No dating, drinking etc. allowed for being an idol.

Also, we cannot deny that the concept of boyfriend or girlfriend material that Kpop idol agencies set up for their idol is also one of problems. This concept makes some fans feel sense of belonging to their idols and create fan culture that their idols should not date—some companies even have the rule which idols can’t date within 3 years after make a debut.

This culture might also create some kinds of fans who can be more violent to idols. This kind of fans are called “sasaeng fans”.

What is sasaeng fan?

Sasaeng came from the word sa (Korean: 사) meaning ‘private’ and saeng (Korean: 생) meaning ‘life’ so sasaeng fans are simply obsessive fans who are overly obsessed about their idols and might do actions that cause violence to their idols like stalking to idols’ private residence or engaging in other behaviour constituting an invasion of the privacy of a Korean idols or other public figure. Some fansites can be sasaeng fans as well. Basically, Kpop fansites are people who take high quality photos or fancams and post it on their fan account on social media. As long as fansites only follow them on their public schedules—this is a welcome addition for the idol agencies to promote their idols to public but some fansites can be so obsessive that they try to show their existence by following idols everywhere even if it is not on their official schedules which has been announced publicly.

Case Study

There would be some case study showing that idols are being invaded their privacy on media or even media outlets themselves are the one who cross the line and it happen for many times.

1. G-Dragon and Jennie dating and How YG Entertainment respond

YG Entertainment’s stars G-Dragon of Big Bang and Jennie of BlackPink dating news was reported by Korean entertainment media outlets Dispatch. Dispatch released infographic of their routine and the photo where is at G-Dragon’s private penthouse parking lot with two-step verification process for entry. It is really creepy to think how they find the way to get trough those two-step security and how they know every routine of idols. On the other hand, YG Entertainment is a good example for keeping privacy of both idols. Normally, when idols have dating news, the any other agencies will make statements to confirm their relationships—or even when the time they break up too! But after YG Entertainment have noticed their relationship, they only made the statement that said they can’t confirm anything about their artists’ private lives and ask for understanding.

2. Fansite who is a sasaeng fan and buy information from idols staff

Flytothemoon (name of the fansite Twitter account) is a Yangyang of WayV’s sasaeng fan. She bought WayV’s flight information from one of the staff and bought herself the same flight to sit beside Yangyang and follow him everywhere. Even WayV members posted picture of sasaeng and told them to stop following.

The girl wearing black T-shirt is sasaeng of Yangyang
WayV members posted this picture and told them to stop following.

Also, she was former Markinmyheart (name of fansite account) who is Mark of NCT’s sasaeng fan and follow him everywhere even on his Graduation day at high school and the photo of him released that his facial expression appears very scared. She also spread the rumors of other members who was trying to protect Mark and Yangyang. Due to her behavior, many fans sent emails to SM Entertainment who is the agency of NCT and WayV to take legal action against this issue.

His facial expression when he saw sasaeng

Are there any law to deal with this issue?

Stalking is classified in Korean law as a misdemeanor and is only punished with fines. Until now, stalking has been categorized as a misdemeanor and was punished only with a fine not exceeding 100,000 won (around 3,000 baht) or 29 days in jail, sparking criticism that weak punishment has led to an increase in related crimes. However after the 22 years of an initial move stipulate stalking as a crime by law, Korean government finally made it! The number of stalking crime cases in 2019 handled by the police stood at 583, nearly twofold compared with 312 cases in 2013, according to data compiled by the National Police Agency. Under this new law, which is called “Anti-Stalking Law,” any acts of approaching, following or blocking a victim against his or her will; waiting for or observing a victim in and around his or her residence, workplace or school; and causing anxiety or fear through mail, telephone or IT networks are legally categorized as acts of stalking. With this new law, stalkers can be punished up to three years in prison or 30 million won in fine. The punishment could be aggravated to a maximum of five-year imprisonment or a fine of 50 million won when a weapon or other dangerous object is used. The legislation will be effective in Korean on September 2021. Hopefully, idol agencies will be more serious in any terrible treatment to their idols.

If they wanted privacy, they should not choose idol life. How can idols expect to keep their privacy when they are trying to promote themselves to public?

That excuses would not make enough sense to fans to do anything that ruins their idols’ privacy. Every person, no matter who they are, deserves the right to privacy. Imagine that you are being stalked by someone, it would be very frightening for you for sure! That being said, this does not excuse the terrible treatment that so many Kpop idols receive. Do not forget that Kpop idols are human just like us. This includes their online messages with others remaining private, their relationships remaining private to most if they choose, their address not disclosed to all, and other basic things that go with the concept of privacy. In addition, media outlets and Kpop entertainment labels are an important part in creating this kind of Kpop culture that idols can’t make any mistakes, always smile and maintain their good image in front of public like agencies’ programmed robots. I hope that every side that involves in this issue would take more serious in respecting each other’s privacy including any public figure like how you want others to respect your privacy.