Since the rise of the Hallyu wave, there has been a growing number of Korean pop fans who’ve taken things to the next level in the name of love by using creepily obsessive methods to gain closer access to their biases. The most popular K-pop like BTS, EXO, TWICE and BLACKPINK have about 100 of these fans stalking them daily. Examples of such acts include seeking out celebrities at their dorms or homes, stealing their personal belongings or information, harassing family members, tracing and recording their private phone calls, and sending idols inappropriate gifts.
It has been noted that sasaeng fans who are old enough to work will try to get jobs in industries bringing them closer either to their idols or to information concerning them like the idols’ companies, airline companies, phone companies, and credit card companies. That’s why these fans have their flight details, mobile numbers, daily schedules, home address, family details, and credit card account numbers. Can you even imagine being monitored 24 hours every day as a normal person? You can’t, right? It’ll definitely feel like a prison for that constant surveillance.
The main reason why these fans do this kind of thing is that they just want to gain attention from their favorite stars, and thinking that the idols will start to notice them at future events. While it may seem like an irrational reason to behave like this but it is. They just go as far as they can just to get close to their idols? Basically many think that these fans got inspired when in 2012, a sasaeng reportedly slapped Yoochun from JYJ, in the face, justifying herself by saying that the idol would surely remember her from then on.
A fan even installed cameras in his private parking lot. First-generation K-pop singers Eun Ji-won of SechsKies and Moon Hee-Joon of the band H.O.T admitted to paranoid feelings whenever they left their homes. Idols including Jung Yong-Hwa of CNBLUE, Zico of Block B, Junho of 2 PM, and Lay of Exo have reported incidents of sasaeng fans following them all the way to home or attempting to break into their homes which scared the stars and their family members.
These so-called fans even have a specialized taxi service that charges a huge amount of money by the hour, just to help sasaengs chase their idols wherever they go. Which has been known to cause horrific road accidents and serious injuries to the celebrities like Kim Heechul and Leeteuk from SUPER JUNIOR. Around 2012 after a show, both of them were chased by 5 of these sasaeng taxis which eventually caused a multi-car pileup that actually included the stars’ own vehicles. Heechul also described feelings of paranoia and the trauma that the actions of certain sasaeng fans had caused him.
Idols have a lot of work they do overseas and as a result, need to stay in hotels, but sometimes sasaengs can infiltrate them and wreak havoc. During one trip, EXO stayed at a hotel which sasaeng fans had managed to break into. They installed cameras in the hotel’s gym. They also were able to install cameras in some of the members’ rooms as well as microphones. In their early years, some even attempted kidnapping them. Luckily their manager noticed and the boys were safe.
Another common immature K-pop fan act is blood writing. In 2009, an obsessive fan of MBLAQ’s Lee chang-sun wrote and posted a message written in blood on social media. The message read, "Don't forget me, Lee chang-sun. I only have you. I love you". A fan of WONDER GIRLS cut her wrist and used her own blood to write, "Come back, Wonder Girls". However, 2PM‘s Ok Taecyeon received one of the most disturbing notes around. He received an extremely creepy note saying, “You can’t live without me.” What made it even worse was that the note was written in menstrual blood, as proof of her adulation! This obsessive behavior toward the celebrity led to criticism of her actions, including from other 2 PM fans.
Recently, an ex-sasaeng revealed all about the life of a stalker-fan in an anonymous interview. She shared that she had not intended to become a sasaeng but a chance encounter with a fan-taken video of a popular idol made her fall in love with him. She realized that merely listening to the songs could not satisfy her, and she craved interaction. Their day-to-day schedules involved her waiting at cafes outside the idol's entertainment company and finding out where the celebrities would be filming at, just to catch a glimpse of her favorite idol. She mentioned that she lived this life for about a year and a half, even taking a break from school just to focus on stalking.
Not only, sasaengs but nowadays some normal fans are going overboard with their obsession. A great example of this would be Oli London, a British influencer who has been notoriously infamous over the years for publicizing their cosmetic surgery journey and being very vocal about their love for Jimin. Oli received about 18 plastic surgeries of over $150,000 just to look like Park Jimin from the world-famous boy group BTS. But all of his pain and struggle went in vain because he still doesn’t look like Jimin at all. In an interview, he even said that he got so many surgeries that he can’t even feel his face anymore.
He also spent a huge amount of money on clothing and fashion to give more vibes like Jimin. He even drew attention when he said that he had married a cardboard cutout of Jimin in Las Vegas. He also self-claims to be Korean when he clearly isn’t. A Korean journalist of the Paper Magazine, Sandra Song wrote that Oli's announcement that he’s Korean is effectively trivialized to actual Koreans’ identities because they're suddenly 'trendy.'
Some fans think that when they are going overboard with their obsession, they are being cool as they know everything about them or look like them. But what they don’t understand is that all of the things they are doing are only harming their own favorite idols. And they are physically and mentally stressed about it. So, stop doing it at least for their sake. Always remember that they are human too. Put yourself in their shoes and think about it again before doing something like this.
* Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 10th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka