K-pop About the Black Lives Matter Movement

This article was originally published on June 17, 2020.

Over the past couple of years, the K-pop community has grown tremendously and has voiced support for their favorite K-pop groups on social media platforms. With the recent events of the Black Lives Matter movement, they have shown the world just how powerful they are as a fanbase. One of the biggest K-pop groups that has exploded via the internet is the boy group BTS, which has appeared on many American talk shows including, “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” with Ellen DeGeneres. They have reached hundreds of millions of views on their music videos for their songs, including, “DNA”, which has one billion views, and “Boy With Luv”, which has 816 hundred million views.

As the African American community has come into the limelight all around the world, the group and the agency have decided to take part in the Black Lives Matter movement. They have donated one million dollars to the Black Lives Matter organization and many other civil rights organizations during the first week of June. On June 4th, they stated on Twitter that everyone should stand against racial discrimination, as everybody has the right to be respected, and that they “condemn violence”. This was a great surprise to many K-pop stans, as this was one of the first times K-pop idols spoke out against matters such as the Black Lives Matter movement. This led to many replies mentioning South Korea’s past of cultural appropriation and how the Korean entertainment industry hasn’t been the most culturally educated. However, fans also appreciated them contributing to the movement and were happy that BTS has shown support for the liberation of color-based discrimination.

Soon after, the hashtag #MatchAMillion trended on Twitter, as BTS fans, also known as “ARMY”, used it repeatedly to inspire others to match the amount that BTS donated in the fans’ own fundraiser made by @OneInAnARMY. In the following 24 hours, they were able to achieve their goal of one million dollars with the help of many other ARMY members who donated via the link on their tweet. They are continuing to raise money and have earned a total of $1,300,000 so far. Other things that the K-pop community has done is flood controversial and disputed hashtags used by many racists on Instagram with K-pop content. Hashtags like #BlueLivesMatter and #WhiteOutWednesday have been filled with many K-pop fancams and fanmade edits to drown out the negativity and help divert the focus back to the Black Lives Matter movement. Moreover, posts that genuinely have these hashtags in captions are also being raided by Kpop stans, as many are commenting K-pop song lyrics to express their disgust of these posts.

Not only has BTS made a contribution, but other K-pop idols have donated and spoken about the current situation in America. GOT7’s Mark Tuan donated $7,000 to the George Floyd memorial Fund, and Jae Park of DAY6 donated $1,000 to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. H1GHR, a hip hop label in Korea has also collectively raised $21,000 for the Black Lives Matter organization. Many K-pop idols have also participated in Blackout Tuesday, including Hwasa from Mamamoo, Hyuna, Psy, Ten from WayV, Johnny from NCT127, and many more. Rookie band, 2z, has even said that their song “Doctor” will help the listeners pained by world corruption, the Coronavirus pandemic, and the unjust murder of George Floyd cope.

One certain Korean singer, known as Jamie, has used her platform on Instagram to talk about how the Korean music industry is heavily influenced by African American music and culture. Moreover, Jamie said that many of her fellow musicians have been able to become who they are today because of their experiences with African American music. She talked about how that just because the “systematic abuse of humans just because of their skin color” is portrayed as the most outrageous in America, people everywhere, especially in Korea, have trouble with racism and therefore still need to understand the value of the movement and contribute.

As people have already said, the Korean entertainment industry has not always been racially aware. In the past, there have been many times that K-pop idols have done blackface, had backlash from the media due to cultural appropriation of their fashion, and their color-based comments on their own group members for having darker skin. Some times when the K-pop industry received backlash was when rapper of (G)I-DLE, Soyeon mentioned a concept idea to her members saying that they were going to go for a more “ethnic hip” feel and have a member sing in an “African style”, which made the group lose many supporters. Hwasa has even said that she thought she was an African American person when she was watching a video of herself on stage and with her group members, performed Uptown Funk using blackface makeup, and sang the n-word when she sang a cover of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”. Whenever such events occurred, many K-pop fans would blindly dismiss their behavior, saying that they were unaware and it was just a mistake.

However, with all the awareness being spread around the world, people in Korean Entertainment are being given a chance to educate themselves and become better role models for their supporters. Though Korean and many other cultures, including ours, have a long way to go to complete acceptance of other races, fans are happy that the singers are becoming more educated and aware of international events. We hope that the K-pop industry will continue to speak out about such causes. Though the process to liberate racism internationally and nationally is slow, we must keep fighting racial injustice to have a future where everybody is able to live in harmony.