This week, we say “anyong haseyo” as we dive into fans of Korean Pop (K-Pop)… in Brazil?? Why is it so popular there, of all places? And what is it about this unique musical style? Is it riding out the Korean Wave??

Next week, our final episode of the season, takes us to fans of something a bit more global: Fans of cosplay!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Korean pop, abbreviated to ‘K-pop’, is a musical genre that originates in South Korea. The term is often used to describe a modern form of South Korean pop music drawing inspiration from a range of styles and genres around the world. K-pop’s origins begin in the late 1980s and early 1990s with groups such as Seo Taiji and Boys being among the earliest in 1992.

The French Institut national de l’audiovisuel defines K-pop as a “fusion of synthesized music, sharp dance routines and fashionable, colorful outfits.” … Songs typically consist of one or a mixture of pop, rock, hip hop, R&B and electronic music genres.
Wikipedia - K-pop

There is also a ton of history about K-pop that relates to Japan, and the West, Korean Culture in general, and even enka… but we only have a short time to do the research, so we would highly recommend reading more about it!

Fandom Origins:
Modern K-pop idol culture began with the band H.O.T in 1996, and another generation of fans started with TVXQ and BoA which broke into the neighbouring Japanese market (and the world). However, with the advent of social media and Korean TV shows, K-pop and its fandom may just be a small part of the Korean Wave.

Most Active:
For the first time in Fanthropological’s history, the answer to the question “when was this fandom most active” is now. Since January 2004, interest in K-pop (using Google Trends as a proxy) is the highest it has ever been and has been on a huge trend upwards since approximately January 2010. Interest is still rising, those it has been less dramatic of an increase in interest since approximately March 2012 (For reference, Gangnam Style debuted on Youtube in July 2012).

Fandom Demographics:
Thank goodness for fans! The kpop subreddit has conducted a census which gives us an interesting (if rough sense) of the fandom demographics of North American K-pop fans. Based on this data (and that caveat):

  • Age: The majority of fans are between 18-24 (61.5%), with the next largest group being fans aged 25-34 (20%) and fans aged 13-17 (15.6%)
  • Gender: The majority of fans from this survey are male (56%) compared to female (42.6%)
  • Ethnicity: The majority of fans are Asian (46%), Caucasian (44.5%), or Hispanic (8.4%)

However, a Master’s student, Maur-Anne Griffonnet-Barge, conducted a survey as part of her thesis and may give a more ‘global’ dataset:

  • Age: The majority are age 19 or younger with a close second being fans age 20-29
  • Gender: Differing from the reddit survey, the vast majority identify as female
  • Ethnicity: The majority of respondents were white, with the next largest group being fans who are Asian.

While it is difficult to estimate the number of fans, the Hallyu (Korean Wave) index, gives a conservative estimate of 35 million “hardcore” fans of Korean Pop Culture worldwide and there are 60 million registered Hallyu fan club members in 109 countries. Assuming K-pop is a subset of that, it would still put K-pop fans in the millions.

Around the world:
We know that K-pop has gained some popularity around the world, but using the same google trends data, it appears that K-pop is popular in particular in countries such as Brunei, Myanmar, Phillipines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, and… South Korea.

Fan terms:

  • Sasaeng (private life): fans who pry into the private lives of K-pop fans and exhibit stalker-like behaviour. Fun fact: “a new law introduced in February 2016 in Korea saw the penalty for stalking rise to around US$17,000 as well a possible two-year jail sentence” (Wikipedia - K-pop)

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

K-pop is so popular in Brazil … after door was opened by K-dramas.

K-pop is popular in Brazil because of a song or band uses Brazillian rhythms (or that appeal to Brazillian listeners).

K-pop became popular in Brazil because of a legal ban that was lifted, and K-pop happened to be popular among that.

The Verdict

T is out (but will still listen to K-pop. It’s good).

G is in… and recommends TVXQ’s Something.

Z is in?

This week’s spotlight

Reddit K-Pop Census 2017
Are you a fan of K-pop? You should take part in the r/k-pop census and be counted!

Fan Rice
Not so much a charity as a unique K-pop phenomenon where fans donate rice to their favourite artists. Often times, the rice is then donated to a charity of the idol’s choice. Apparently, this trend started after Shin Hye-sung’s concert on August 11, 2007.

Donating rice indicates that fans take greater social responsibility besides showing their respect and support to their favourite artists. …
As of 2013, the record of fan rice donated for a celebrity event is held by the fan club of 2PM, where fans from different countries donated 28.088 tonnes of rice for their finale concert.
Wikipedia - Fan Rice

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Cosplay!

Cosplay is the most popular now than its ever been.

There are rules to the internet (e.g. Rule 34). Should there be a new rule about cosplay that states: “If there is an IP, there is cosplay of it”. Alternatively, Is there anything for which there hasn’t been a cosplay.

Is there a competition for the worst cosplay (like the Razzies)?

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

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  • if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try nick@thenickscast.com
  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
  • Everything is thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.


We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.



Music / Sound

  • All music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!


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