Stalker at restroom stop for K-pop’s WayV angers fans

Tamar Herman, South China Morning Post

Posted at Jan 19 2021 05:02 PM

Stalker at restroom stop for K-pop’s WayV angers fans 1
Members of pop group WayV took to social media to complain about a fan who tried to photograph them on the way to a restroom. Twitter: @WayV_official

Followers of South Korea-based boy band WayV trended the phrase “protect WayV” worldwide on Twitter after members of the band expressed frustration at obsessive fans – including one who allegedly tried to take photos of them on their way to a restroom.

Several members of WayV turned to Bubble, a paid fan-oriented app where artists can talk directly with fans, to post photos and posts related to obsessive fans who invade their privacy.

“Everyone,” wrote band member Lucas. “I was filming and suddenly this person arrived.” He shared a picture of an individual standing by a taxi on the side of a snowy road, seemingly being approached by a member of the band’s staff.

“I’m really angry. I’m sorry everyone. For suddenly being like this.”

Other members of the group posted about similar frustrations, and Kun, who acts as WayV’s leader, expressed outrage over the fan taking photos when the members were heading to the restroom. “That’s enough!” he wrote, and posted images of the same fan appearing to use a zoom lens to apparently take pictures of the group.

After the band members’ posts, fans trended “Protect WayV” worldwide on Twitter, calling for the band’s management company, SM Entertainment, to protect the stars’ privacy.

Obsessive fans who follow stars to a dangerous and invasive extent in South Korea are known as sasaeng – a portmanteau that means “private life”.

WayV are one of several bands that are part of the larger NCT K-pop boy band brand under SM Entertainment. NCT have long been rumoured to have an intense following of sasaeng, and fans on social media believe the individual photographed by the members is a long-term sasaeng who has switched between following different members of the larger NCT team.

SM Entertainment artists, including Baekhyun of Exo who is also in SM’s cross-company boy band SuperM with Lucas, have also used Bubble to share their frustrations with intrusive followers in the past.

Historically, sasaeng – who many K-pop fans feel are not fans but rather stalkers – have caused serious issues for some stars, including buying their personal information and travel plans, breaking into their homes, and causing serious accidents with long-lasting injuries to artists.

It is not uncommon for artists to get calls from fans when they’re in the middle of live-streaming, and artists frequently change their phone numbers as a result of fans overstepping.

In the recent past, some K-pop companies have attempted to take legal action and blacklist certain fans from attending concerts and trying to prevent them booking plane tickets to sit near their favourite stars.

But the fan-reliant industry has struggled, in par because stalking has historically been considered a minor offence in South Korea and punishable only by fines. In November last year, the country’s Ministry of Justice announced that it would be pushing for an expansion of anti-stalking laws and called for more serious punishments.

It is not known whether stricter laws will result in K-pop companies setting clearer guidelines on how to deal with fans who intrude on the private lives of stars.

SM Entertainment did not respond to queries from the Post about the situation.