K-pop fans, unexpected supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement

In Philadelphia (in the United States), June 1, 2020.
In Philadelphia (in the United States), June 1, 2020. MARK MAKELA / AFP

As protests continue in the United States, a week after the death of George Floyd on May 25, when he was arrested by police in Minneapolis (Minnesota), Americans denouncing racism and police violence have found a online weight support: fans of K-pop (Korean pop).

The specialized musical site Billboard explains the phenomenon in particular by the fact that Korean music is “An industry strongly inspired and influenced by black music and culture”. If the first to react to the movement were Korean-American and hip-hop artists, “The impact has spread to many different artists, using their platforms and encouraging their fans to donate, act as allies and act on behalf of Black Lives Matter [« les vies noires comptent »], Explain Billboard.

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We have seen artists like Jay Park, Tiger JK, Mark Tuan, from the GOT7 group, or Amber Liu speaking on social networks. Some have shared petitions, claiming to have donate to the Black Lives Matter movement, and encouraged their subscribers to learn and educate yourself on these issues.

“Awareness of racial and cultural issues”

Their fans have obviously followed suit to protest online. If this can be explained in part by the engagement of their favorite artists, Michelle Cho, a teacher-researcher at the University of Toronto, also explains it by the fact that in North America, “The K-pop fan groups are mainly made up of non-white people, considerably queer, and very present on social networks. Raising awareness of racial and cultural issues is one of the main features of fan conventions like KCON ”.

Anyway, as the site noticed Mashable, K-pop fans have decided to embrace this cause, and to put all their knowledge and know-how in social media to the benefit of Black Lives Matter. Many of them have therefore decided to stop initiatives to promote their favorite artists (and put them among the most discussed subjects) to make way for Black Lives Matter. “In a moment of unity, fans of several K-pop groups decided that there were more important hashtags at the moment”, summarizes the article on the site.

Bringing up a hashtag or a topic at the top of trends is not completely trivial. It allows to give it visibility, and to push people who would never have been interested in a subject to discover and discuss it.

Counter a Dallas police app

But some did not stop there. After the publication of the video of members claiming to be Anonymous, the anthropologist Gabriella Coleman noticed that its circulation was notably made viral thanks to the participation of many K-pop fan accounts: “They are the ones who made video one of the most discussed topics on Twitter, she explains to World. They are very strong at amplifying certain subjects. They may also use bots, as Anonymous did in the past. This is also why we recognize groups who know about it. “

On the night of Sunday to Monday, some went further by attacking a Dallas police app. Earlier, texas city police called citizens to send them videos of illegal activities during the Black Lives Matter protests in an app.

Some quickly responded by drowning out the mentions of the account with photographs, videos, but also photos and video montages of their favorite artists. Others did the same on the app. Several hours later, the Texas city police reported that the application was no longer working “Because of technical problems”. As rightly reminded BuzzFeed, we do not know “If Twitter K-pop fans overwhelmed the feed app, which stopped it from working, or if the police just wanted people to stop submitting photos and videos to the app “

The protesters, them, celebrated this as a victory, before realizing that they may have been playing with fire by entrusting their personal data to a police application.

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