Exo’s Conundrum: Fans, Live-Taping, and Unwanted Inheritance

An unprecedented decision was made by Network TV over the last weekend: Banning certain fan club from entering the live-taping of their music program. Not just any other fan club: that of the hottest K-pop male idol group, Exo.

Image by Flickr User Peter Kaminski (CC BY 2.0)

Image by Flickr User Peter Kaminski (CC BY 2.0)

How has this gotten this far?

The last thing network TV want to do is to offend big name agencies and definitely SM is not the one to mess aground, nor their hottest, most proudest boy group. Any network TV producer who had been suffered by SM, who acted like a bully in town and often intentionally held back their singers from appearing certain music shows to send a signal, do know this is a dangerous decision to make, and yet they did pull the trigger– something they never done to the most infamously violent fan club, TVXQ’s Cassiopeia.

Exo’s fandom is so explosive and extreme now– it would be safe to say it is the most extreme of the recent K-pop history. There are witnesses who have seen Exo got scolded by frustrated network producers as they failed to prevent Exo’s unruly fans from ruining other singers stages and just fed up with all the complaints they are getting and cleaning up their messes.

An Unwanted Inheritance: Sasaeng Fans

The most weird, incomprehensible pattern found in the SM fandom world (almost exclusively to male stars) is the new male idol inherits the old fans of the same agency’s previous idols. There are so many funny theories about this, even ridiculous conspiracy stories, but one most feasible explanation is SM male stars share so many similar traits that it is relatively easy to find the most identical replacement within the same agency.

One problem is that some of the notorious Sasaeng fans who wandered around aimlessly as their Oppas less frequently appeared on TV, took a hiatus, or got too old to satisfy their fantasy, moved on and found a new host, and Exo became their shiny new victim to harass and stalk. Unlucky for Exo: this young, only a year old group inherited violent SM fan groups which have been formed over seven to eight years (who have been previously Sasaeng for TVXQ and Super Juniors). It is truly hard to watch how these young stars suffer from a systematic, organized stalking (more on this in the last two paragraphs)

Will It Ever Work? We All Know the Answer

This serious-sounding announcement seems like the most useless, ineffective thing ever tried out by Network TV. There is no way identifying which one is whose fan, its not like they tattooed their stars names in their faces or arms (well, few may have). Fx fans and MBLAQ fans have already repeatedly complained how Exo fans have entered taping events disguised as one of them and filled up seats reserved for them. Beside, their Sasaeng is one of the most skilled stalkers who are even capable of breaking into their houses. Live-taping is a joke.

Image of Exo blocking an entrance to public restroom

Image of Exo blocking an entrance to public restroom, Photo by “라리”

A series of photos (Korean link) shows that how closely Exo is being followed and hunted after almost everywhere they go : Sasaeng fans take photos inside restaurants, restrooms, spend the entire night in front of Exo’s hotel and often succeeded in breaking into their hotel rooms, and take the same plane to seat right next to them take photo.

Breaking in during the shower is a regular, as well as breaking in while they are urinating. Photo in the left shows members protecting other member who is using toilet. And they do this in turns.

How skillful they are? Here comes the scary story.

I picked few among many scary stories widely circulating in major Korean online venues. They were mostly unconfirmed, but you can see a pattern here and quite many photos proving it is not an urban myth after all.

1) Chinese fans nearly succeeded in abducting one member (it is believed Luhan) by placing a van identical to one they used to get in right of them.

2) One member got a harmless gift- one Teddy Bear- from fans right before Exo catch flights. But they soon got stopped at the airport security check as a metal detector found a camera lens hidden in the teddy bear’s eye.