The immense popularity carried by the K-pop industry cannot be denied. Alongside K-dramas, K-food and K-tourism, it is their music that makes South Korea one of the most influential countries in the world today. Actually, K-pop is not a new thing because it has been well-loved since the 90’s and even earlier than that if you try to read about the pioneer K-pop groups and soloists to exist. The thing is that it has become more globally recognized today. Indeed, K-pop has become widely famous and adored not only in its homeland but also in different countries all across the world.
Clearly, the K-pop industry has gained so many avid fans, and even those who never liked K-pop before have become part of the most loyal supporters now. What’s certain is that every K-pop fan has at least one favorite K-pop group, which led them into appreciating the industry in general. Some have multiple favorites, from boy groups to girl groups, from soloits to bands, that make them extra delightful aside from their ultimate biases. And if you’re a K-pop fan reading this now, you definitely can relate!
Now, for people who are outside the K-fandom, it’s mostly hard to digest what K-pop is, what’s in it and why a lot of people are drawn into it. Well, I suggest that anyone curious about these should look into K-pop groups to get the idea. Reading this is a fan, you know how that feels because you were once a non Kpop fan. If you know somebody who wants to discover K-pop, besides letting them hear K-music, introduce to them in detail the existence of different K-pop groups.
There are various K-pop groups out there, probably more than you can name in a minute. Nonetheless, there are a few things that make them similar to each other yet very special individually. To know more and to have something to share with your non Kpop friend who might become a fan soon, check out these 7 essentials that K-pop groups have in common. Yes, it’s impossible that a K-pop idol group does not have them, thus called essentials.
1 – Fandom and Fandom Name
Photo credit: Philippine Concerts
K-pop groups exist because of their fans. It’s what these artists often say, and they’re not lying at all. Without supporters, they won’t be able to debut. They won’t be able to win competitions based on people’s votes, won’t be greatly known and won’t last for a lot of years without fans. That’s why artists cherish and thank their fans a lot and do their best to make them happy and satisfied, repaying their love and efforts towards them too.
So yes, it has been evidently proved that K-pop groups have their own fandoms, which are the people who follow them, root for them, cheer for them and protect them. It’s the family they create and treasure. Even if the artists don’t personally know each fan and vice versa, they consider each other as best friends and family. This is the reason why a lot of people get attached to K-pop groups and to the fandom they belong to.
One of the ways by which these K-pop groups display their love for their fans is by giving them a fandom name. Basically, this is what you call the fans of a particular group. This is how K-pop groups address their supporters all the time. Army is the fandom name of BTS. Blink is Blackpink’s. Once is Twice’s. iKONIC is iKON’s. Carat is Seventeen’s. Melody is BTOB’s. The list goes on.
Fandom names are special because they are created and decided by the K-pop artists themselves, sometimes together with their fans’ ideas too. They have an endlessly special meaning for both the artists and their supporters.
2 – Lightstick
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Concerts and fan meetings are the major events held for K-pop groups to showcase their talents in front of their fans and to interact with them and see them face to face. When you attend K-pop concerts, the sea of supporters is filled with a specific color of lights coming from lightsticks.
Lightsticks are as their name implies; they are handheld sticks that light up when you switch them on. However, they are not just any ordinary flashlight or toy because they are colored with the fandom’s color, given by the K-pop groups themselves. When lit, these lightsticks display the representative color of the groups. Each group has a unique design, which bears a precious meaning. Often, lightsticks have the group’s logo attached somewhere on or in them. Some artists even participate or lead in personally decorating their fandom lightsticks.
Most importantly, lightsticks are a symbol of fans’ unity. When artists see their countless fans holding them up during events, they can’t help but stand in awe of these people who come to see them and regard them as their family.
2 – VLIVE Account
Non K-pop lovers don’t really know this, but VLIVE is the platform where most K-pop groups personally talk with their fans. It is a South Korean live video broadcasting service, which artists use to go live anytime they want to interact with their fans.
VLIVE is an application you can download to your mobile device or open with your browser on PC. You need to sign up to follow your K-pop group’s VLIVE account. All artist accounts here are official. A community board is where fans can post anything. There’s a group chat where you can talk with each other, including the artists.
Interaction happens in real time. VLIVE is also where some reality shows and special video content are posted. K-pop groups do countdowns of their comebacks and celebrations of their birthdays and anniversaries via VLIVE. It is where artists show their regular days when they are not on stage or on TV. Some give spoilers of their upcoming schedules and songs through VLIVE too.
4 – Albums
Photo credit: Sporcle
K-pop is a music industry. No matter how talented they may be in variety shows, in cooking, in acting and many more skills they are acknowledged for, all K-pop groups are singers. Sometimes, people forget that because these artists are standing out in their other talents and are humorous, but yes, they are singers (and dancers) first and foremost.
Needless to say, they have albums that contain the songs they work hard to compose, practice and perform, so they can share them with their fans and to the world. However, K-pop albums are not any simple music albums because they are creative, cute and clever!
Not only do they contain CDs but also do they have photo books, photocards, message cards, postcards, stickers and posters, all with the group members’ hard work. What’s more, each album is designed fantastically according to the era’s concept, so they are all unique and beautiful.
5 – Comebacks
Whenever a group releases a new album, it’s considered a comeback. After not producing official music for quite a few months or (unfortunately) years, they are coming back with a fresh music release, thus called a comeback.
K-pop comebacks are among the most exciting events for both artists and fans. They are busy seasons because artists are promoting their songs in music shows and in TV and radio guestings. Some groups win in music shows and top local and global charts during their comebacks; they break others’ records and even their own records.
6 – Positions
In every group, there are members, and each member has a specific role. The official positions are the main and the lead vocalists, the main rappers, the main dancers, the visual and the face of the group. All members shine individually as they shine as a whole team because each of them are distinctly talented.
7 – Company
Photo credit: Riding the Korean Wave
Last but not the least, each group has a company that handles them. It’s their celebrity management company that gives birth to, nurtures and promotes them as artists. It is where they debut as a group.
Their managers, who are like the artists’ second parents, belong to this company. Whenever there are advertisement offers or guesting invitations for the K-pop groups, their company has a big say; often, they have the final say. Opportunities beyond the stage are received by artists with the help of their agency. Every entertainment agency’s goal is and must be to protect their artists while letting them grow well as artists and as humans.
ALL K-POP GROUPS
There you have them — the 7 essentials that K-pop groups have in common. K-pop fans absolutely understand all these. On the other hand, for non K-pop people, this is an added information that they certainly do not know.
Hope you gained interesting facts from this piece regardless of whether you’re a superfan or not (or not yet)! If you are, then have fun fangirling and fanboying! If you’re the latter, then have fun unraveling the world of K-pop!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
NICOLE ANN PORE is a writer, an events host and a voice over artist. Quality and well-researched writing is her worthwhile avenue to enlighten and delight others about things that matter. She is a resident writer for The Fordham Company, a leading celebrity talent management agency in Australia. Nicole graduated Cum Laude from De La Salle University Manila, Philippines with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts.