(Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)
Crescenta Valley High School

Opinion: COVID-19 threatens the connection between K-pop artists and fans

BTS’s latest album had sold 473,052 traditional copies despite the widespread COVID-19 pandemic, according to the BuzzAngle Music chart in April 2020.

This shows that album sales and streams for globally famous groups during the pandemic are staying similar to sales and streams during the pre-pandemic era.

However, are the sales of globally well-known K-pop groups enough to define what every K-pop groups, around 370, are going through during the pandemic?

Yes, it is true that most artists are keeping up with their music and interacting with fans through online platforms such as Youtube, Twitter, Spotify, and Vlive even in the midst of pandemic.

However, is it reasonable to confidently say that rookie artists are all happy-go-lucky and expect their newly emerging lives as artists to be all peaches and roses when they did not even get ample opportunities to have in-person events to present themselves in front of the fans?

It is through in-person events that the K-pop artists vividly feel the exuberant cheers from the fans and get reassurance about their performances. In fact, in-person events are the ones that make artists feel truly connected to fans.

This sense of connection between the artists and the fans is a driving force that inspires most K-pop groups to maintain hope and pursue their career in music with certainty.

According to USA Today, most young K-pop performers spend as long as 10 years training and following strict rules their labels impose on them. Or in other words, to become a K-pop artist, intense training and practice are required.

After going through all the challenging and physically and mentally exhausting times at a young age, debuting as an artist presents a sense of accomplishment and gives value to all the difficulties that had to be experienced while training.

However, having all the events conducted online and performing on a stage with empty audience seats would make the rookie artists feel uncertain even if they achieved their dream of becoming K-pop artists. Essentially, pandemic blurred and postponed the longly-anticipated future as artists who tour all around the world to deliver music.

As mentioned before, in K-pop, constant interaction between fans and artists is important. However, if the pandemic perpetuates and makes it harder to host in-person events and concerts, it is inevitable that the interest in rookie K-pop groups will decrease.

This cruel and not-so-impossible possibility is making rookie K-pop groups more anxious about their fate.

In a December 2020 interview with Billboard, Jungwon, a member of K-pop group ENHYPEN, described how performing for their fans in person “would feel like a dream come true since it’s the thing that we want to do most at the moment.”

Since when did meeting fans in person become such an unachievable goal for K-POP artists?

During the pandemic, the inalienable rights of artists to meet and connect with their fans in person has become a vague, uncertain “dream.”

If the pandemic didn’t exist, rookie groups would have been able to shine brightly on stages with a large ocean of fans who give out support from the bottom of their hearts.

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include more up-to-date information. When this story was originally published on Feb. 10, it misrepresented a March 2020 Billboard article that stated the K-Pop industry had continued to function almost as normal, despite Korean health officials working to slow the spread of COVID-19. This article now reflects more recent information about how K-Pop groups have continued to make music throughout the pandemic.