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K-pop fans emerge as a powerful force in US protests

Amid ongoing protests in America against racism and police brutality, a global legion of K-pop fans has emerged as an important ally for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Fans of South Korea’s popular music industry have raised funds for BLM and mobilised to overload social media hashtags used by its opponents, earning appreciation from protesters for their political activism.

Some may have been surprised by their impact, but K-pop observers note fans have long organised support for social and political causes as well as their favourite artists.

This support has, however, also raised questions about systemic racism in the industry and fandom, leading to calls for K-pop to address its own complicated relationship with race.

Fancams to the rescue

Following the outbreak of protests in the US, sparked by the death of black man George Floyd, the Dallas Police Department asked people to share videos of “illegal activity protests” through the iWatch Dallas app.

K-pop fans worldwide responded by inundating it with fan-recorded videos, known as fancams, and memes of various K-pop artists, in an effort to prevent police from tracking protesters’ actions.

Barely a day later, the app was reported to be experiencing technical difficulties though Dallas Police would not say if it was due to the fancams.

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K-pop fans also spammed hashtags used to oppose BLM on social media, such as #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and #WhiteLivesMatter.

Though this made such hashtags trend higher, it also made it harder for their original messages to be seen.

K-pop fans, who have previously been derided online and criticised for “fancam spam”, were celebrated as valued allies of the protestors.

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