SEOUL – Park Ji-yoon quickly swipes the phone screen and unlocks her phone to open a message from Wendy, a member of popular Korean girl group Red Velvet, who just replied via text message with her real-time selfies.
“My heart was pounding when my favorite celebrity first texted me calling my own name,” Park, 28, who has been using DearU Bubble for a year, told ABC News.
Often referred to simply as âBubble,â the feature offered in LYSN, a K-pop fandom community application platform created by SM Entertainment, allows fans to access private chat rooms with their favorite idols. This subscription chat service is extremely popular among K-pop fans.
K-pop stars, like their fans, welcome the two-way direct messaging service. They message fans in group chat rooms from their own respective profiles, texting fans as if they were close friends.
âI use Bubble whenever I can communicate with my ‘ReVelUp’, which is our fan name,â Wendy, of Red Velvet, told ABC News. âWhen I’m on Bubble, I really feel like I am exchanging messages with ReVelUp in real time, which brings me closer to them. Not only can they know my life, but I can also know their life. “
At Bubble, known for their personalized service, fans can access never-before-seen selfies and other photos uploaded directly by the artists themselves to give fans a glimpse into their daily routine. Idols actively use a coded messaging system that allows them to send messages to many fans at once, while also having the ability to read and reply to individual messages.
While the pandemic has dampened revenues for most companies, SM Entertainment’s second quarter 2021 results showed its net profit jumped 109% from the same period last year. DearU Bubble’s operating profit was $ 5.64 million for the first half of 2021. SM Entertainment has partnered with other K-pop companies, including JYP Entertainment, and expanded the service.
Other large South Korea-based companies, such as YG, HYBE, and NCsoft, have deployed fan-star interaction platforms that offer seemingly exclusive communication experiences.
Online communication between fans and K-pop artists is not a new concept, as Korean celebrities have communicated with fans through various means including the famous and traditional online fan community and streaming services. Trendy live video like “V Live”, provided by Naver.
In 2019, HYBE, the agency BTS calls home, developed Weverse to meet strong demands for an integrated fan activity platform. With 33 Korean and non-Korean artists listed, Weverse is currently the most popular one-stop-shop fandom community where artists meet fans, fans buy goodies, and management companies offer free digital archives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused all in-person events to be suspended, including shows, world tours, and fan meetings, all of which are critical to bolstering artist fandoms and generating revenue for entertainment agencies .
This new support of K-Pop fandom platforms has become one of the most necessary and important strategies in the K-Pop industry today.
âAs COVID-19 spread, it was impossible for artists to interact with us. So I think Weverse really helped that way, âone user told ABC News.
The Universe platform, created by NCsoft, has gradually succeeded in carving out its own way despite being one of the most recent applications to enter the market. Universe has merged the functionality of the game with the fan community to differentiate itself from the rest.
“In the near future, fandom platforms will be the key to capturing big fandoms, allowing fans to share their emotions with artists regardless of time and space,” Sang-Hee Kweon told ABC News. , professor at Sungkyunkwan University in Korea. .