With heart-throbbing music, satisfying choreographies, and charismatic visuals, Korean pop (K-pop) has taken away the hearts of every Filipino. The immense love for K-pop has encouraged fans to delve deeper into the Korean culture. The trend is crazy.
But with 21st-century technology, media has encouraged fans on the internet to be more active and dynamic as they can be content creators themselves. The user-generated technology has paved the way for fans not just to rally support for their favorite groups’ global recognitions but has also used their influence to promote social good towards social impact.
The Hallyu Wave in the Philippines
Last year, Twitter celebrated the ten years of the K-pop community through #KpopTwitter. The Covid-19 situation did not stop the fans as there were a massive 6.1 billion K-pop-related tweets in nearly 20 countries worldwide.
The intense passion brewing in every fan is translated into every social media platform, with their tags dominating almost all the trend list spots.
However, when the call to stand for advocacies, social issues, and calamity help, Filos (a slang term for K-pop Filipino fans) are willing to set aside their tags, put down their lightsticks, and unplug their earphones to use their vast following to echo their voices and extend a helping hand to those in need.
K-pop Fans Unite!
When a series of unfortunate events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and natural disasters struck the country in 2020, Filos did not hesitate to assemble their troops to organize charity events.
Inspired by the influential lead their idols have initiated, they have channeled their sense of solidarity. The Neo Culture Technology (NCT) Philippines, the pioneering NCT fanbase in the country, organized Project Renaissance along with the other fandoms to provide prepaid loads, medical supplies, and cash donations to people heavily affected by Typhoon Ulysses.
“At first, we started this fan club because of NCT only. But as time goes by, we slowly realized our purpose. The purpose is not just for NCT and the fandom itself, but as to how we can use our influence to help the community,” they said.
Aside from the Project Renaissance, the fandom has its annual charity project named “Balik-Aral” or “Back-to-School” held on hold due to the pandemic. However, they hope to continue the said project for the upcoming academic year.
When Bang Yedam, Treasure’s main vocalist, uttered the statement “ten people’s one step is more important than one person’s ten steps,” Yedam Star International was moved with it making them shift their original plan of buying him an expensive gift to a more charitable cause.
The group donated necessities for the typhoon victims in Bicol and Cagayan. They shared that Yedam would be pleased to know if they were living with his aspirations not only as a K-pop idol but as a role model.
“His main goal was not fame but good influence, and as his fans, we want him to achieve this goal by living up to his words,” the group expressed.
Recently, to celebrate Yedam’s high school graduation, the group donated five tablets to five students and sponsored a biking organization. In addition to that, they are planning to donate musical instruments to chosen schools in different countries.
“He wants to be an artist who gives courage and hope to people and be influential in many ways. With all the efforts he has put on since he was younger, we believe that he has achieved his goal,” the group added.
Moreover, Hanbin, a former member of iKON, released a brand-new single since leaving the group. All the proceeds from sales to copyright royalties will be donated to World Vision, a non-government organization supporting children.
Like Idols, Like Fans
Individual Filos have also shared their sentiments as to how K-pop influenced their way of thinking.
“They have influenced me to have an open and a bigger way of thinking about social issues such as racism, xenophobia, and cultural appropriation,” said Ma. Arvie Joyce Escasiñas, a K-pop fan since 2009.
She shared that she is proud of her most favorite group, NCT, for the members are ambassadors of various international brands and organizations that are fighting for social change.
“The fact that they can give influence on so many people and bring upon good change is the very reason why they deserve the title of being the ambassadors. As an NCTzen, I’m proud that they are recognized for what they can do, not just for music but to different fields as well,” she added.
NCT Dream is a global ambassador for World Scout Jamboree; NCT member Jaemin is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Jisung and Jeno are ambassadors for M-Clean promoting the responsible use of social media; NCT 127 members are the Gangnam Tourism Ambassadors and a lot more ambassadorships.
She also shared that it is not only NCT who took extra miles. EXO’s Baekhyun and Chanyeol gave light to the Nth Room scandal in South Korea. Both idols posted links of petitions to hold the criminals liable for the rampant abuse of young Korean women who were blackmailed into performing sordid acts online.
“Some of their most inspiring takes on life and society can also be seen in candid videos on Instagram Live and other platforms where they talk to fans and encourage them to better themselves individually,” she said.
Zairah Mae Cañeda, a K-pop fan for eight years, said that the groups she stan such as Super Junior, Red Velvet, EXO, and SNSD are role models not only when it comes to performing but also to helping other people.
“Red Velvet’s Wendy and EXO’s Suho released a song entitled This is Your Day in collaboration with UNICEF for the 30th Anniversary of the UN’s World Children’s Day. Idols like them are truly setting the standards high,” she added.
On the other hand, fans’ money from albums and merchandise will not go to waste because a single purchase from any SM Entertainment groups, a portion of it will be donated to SMile For U, a children’s music education support program launched by SM and UNICEF.
The strong following of K-pop not just in the Philippines but worldwide is undoubtedly a significant advantage to forward the plight of different social issues nowadays. Both the idols and the fans have used their power to amplify voices and forward advocacies for social change.
The K-pop industry is tough. Every group vies for a chance in the spotlight. But regardless of what group, influencing the world through their art is what they all want to achieve. They have proven themselves that K-pop is not just about heart-throbbing music, satisfying choreographies, and charismatic visuals. It is more than that. The immense love for K-pop has encouraged fans to delve deeper not just into the Korean culture but also into the world’s social issues.