It’s every fan’s dream to one day meet their idol. But most would never dream of achieving it through dangerous, deceitful or just plain disrespectful ways. It is clear, at least to me, that the people that partake in sasaeng activities are not real fans, those who support the artist by buying their music, attending their events and wishing them well. These ‘fans’ appear to possess a genuine lack of social awareness, and an inability to empathise, or consider the effects of their behaviour.
The god-like portrayal of idols may have profound impact on the development of this phenomenon. Being seen on TV, domestic and foreign events and the vast array of other activities idols have to participate in leads many to believe that these people are invincible – they can cope with these hectic schedules, so what difference does some people following around them make? They appear (with relatively few exceptions) consistently pleasant and act out of sheer enthusiasm during their activities. Sasaengs seem to think that they should fit into that schedule as nothing more than another normalcy.
But it should seem obvious that these people are not the same off-screen as they are when they are performers. Because that is what they are – performers. They are paid and employed as entertainers. That is not to say that they do not possess real talent: the majority of k-pop stars do, and it is through their talent and hard work that they have become so successful as to be victim of sasaengs in the first place. However it does mean that it is job, and their life is not their job. It is a tremendously large part of their life, but it is still only a part. I’m sure fans’ affection is appreciated wholeheartedly by all artists, but that is what it should remain – a platonic affection.
Sasaeng fans – or private fans – seem to have skimmed over this detail. The idea that stalking, identity theft and constant surveillance are part of the contract when idols sign up for training is something that needs to be addressed. Little criminal action can be taken against sasaengs can be taken for various reasons (namely, most of them are minors), but it can highlight a key concept in the ‘worship’ of k-pop idols, or the lengths that anti-fans will go to in order for their feelings to be known.
So, are sasaeng fans simply the price to pay for fame, or are they a more sinister sign of the celebrity-obsessed society that exists in Korea – and increasingly, globally?
There's also a twitition Stop "sasaeng fans" now