[Guest Post] Korean JYJ fan offers her perspective on the netizen community

This morning, I had the pleasure of exchanging some insightful e-mails with a Korean JYJ fan who reached out to me with a few explanations that she thought might help better understand things from the perspective of a Korean fan on the controversial post on Yoochun I ran yesterday. I learned a lot and opened myself up to new views from her so I wanted to share her perspective with all of you.

She gave me permission to translate a part of her e-mail as a guest post for the blog, but requested to remain anonymous for legal reasons. If any of you would like to read the original Korean copy, please feel free to e-mail me.

I'd like to thank her for taking this time, as well as all of you who commented and shared your thoughts with me and the community in the other post as well. If you feel that you have more to add to this guest post, please e-mail me and we'll work from there.

Disclaimer: Any personal views expressed in this post are the writers' own and do not represent or reflect the opinions of the entire Korean JYJ fandom, JYJ, their company and affiliates, or Netizen Buzz.


"Hello, I'm one fan out many for JYJ. Because I'm not an international fan, I wasn't able to check out Netizen Buzz but I read your exchange with another fan and wanted to send you an e-mail to provide further explanation on our fandom.

As you already know, Nate is a place where hateful comments outnumber positive comments before and much more after since Nate changed their commenting system for accounts using their real names to nicknames.

If a celebrity has committed a mistake, hateful replies may be left, but the majority of the replies left on JYJ articles are unnecessarily hateful than most and irrelevant to the topic of the article.

For example, the article may be talking about his drama but the best reply will say 'Asthma cough cough' with over hundreds of vote ups. Even if they're hiding behind a screen without putting their name on the line, is it right for them to laugh at another person's health problem?

Furthermore, ever since JYJ left SM, the many false rumors that started spreading about them began to also turn into best replies.

Because of such a situation, fans started reporting these comments and leaving positive replies in their place. (As you know, Korea is also running a campaign encouraging netizens to leave positive replies.)

At first, we tried to initiate conversations with them and refute their arguments but we soon realized that they were not people simply leaving hateful replies out of misunderstandings, but keyboard warriors with the specific intention to hate. They seemed to truly enjoy leaving hateful replies, and no matter of reasoning would work with them as they would return swears in response.

They chase after every JYJ related article and commented hate endlessly. They would even go into articles unrelated to JYJ such as articles about K-Pop or dramas and spread hate and rumors there as well.

We eventually decided that it was futile and a waste of time to continue dealing with them so we tried to at least take down the hateful best replies by either reporting the comment or leaving positive comments.

You called this manipulation, but I'm not sure how the action of clicking on the article of a favorite celebrity, reporting and voting down hateful replies, and leaving positive comments is manipulation. I think manipulation is when a someone uses a hacking program to hack the number of votes to change the best reply.

I don't feel that it's manipulation for several fans to read the article and write what they thought as a response, and it upsets me that it's viewed that way. Nate is not a place that JYJ fans aren't allowed in, as fans are a part of the public as well.

You might be curious as to why false rumors or hate continues to become best replies, or even wonder if there really is a problem with JYJ due to the frequency at which these rumors come up.

To explain from my level of understanding, when JYJ first filed their lawsuit against SM and left the company, a lot of rumors that tried to paint the company in a positive light began to spread. The most representative is the make up rumor. I don't know if you're aware of the rumor, but it basically states that JYJ threw away TVXQ and left SM for their make up company. Of course, this isn't true at all and the TVXQ fans that continued to spread this were brought to court. I believe you can find the letter of apology they wrote somewhere on the internet.

Anyway, such ridiculous rumors were being spread anywhere along with the media pouring out articles that tried to put SM in a positive light. They painted JYJ as traitors to the people that made them who they were and they were subsequently hated on in the comments. A select number of SM artist fans also consider JYJ their enemy.

As you know from recent news, JYJ won their lawsuit against SM last year and also avex this year. Despite such results, haters continue to spread rumors and claim that JYJ fans had somehow manipulated news of their lawsuit win, which we cannot understand.

I believe that this should suffice in explaining that the people who are leaving hateful comments about JYJ are people who will not listen to any voice of reason.

In the past, Moon Hee Jun and Tablo were both the subject of much hateful activity. Although our situation is a bit different from theirs, JYJ has gone through a lot of emotional pain due to the hateful comments of others when they did not commit any big mistakes.

I believe that there is a set number of people who leave hateful comments, create rumors, and attack celebrities. But it takes only a moment for them to become the majority once they set their sights on a target, and if you react too late or something is not done (such as a large company suing them), then the situation grows to a point where it's no longer able to be fixed.

After that happens, it doesn't matter what the star does because they will just be a subject to be hated and laughed at.

I think that JYJ is in that exact situation right now. This is why fans will personally take hateful commenters to court or alert C-JeS to take action.

These lawsuits, however, don't progress as fast as you'd think. Many are still in progress. At first, C-JeS tried to think of them as a fan and let them off easy, but it's reached a point now where they can no longer sit back and observe, which led them to release another warning. As you know from this article, over 20 netizens were sued in 2012.

I think that these hateful comments are not the opinions of the public but a hateful attack by netizens, which is why fans will either report the comments or vote them down.

Of course, I don't consider comments like "He is bad at acting" as hateful because that is a personal opinion. If a fan thinks that the acting was good, then they have just as much right to say so in the comments since it is their own opinion.

What fans are most afraid of are not comments of such nature, but comments that spread rumors and unnecessary hate (talks about asthma, rumors about military enlistment, rumors at the drama film set). People that don't know anything will read them and believe them to be true, which is why we report them or vote them down.

That hateful netizen in return will call us a crime girl and start spamming the comments, which will make fans respond to that in return and either leave positive comments or other meaningless comments to spam it down and take it off the page.

But without such explanations, you only translated the situation in that exact moment, which is why we as fans were so upset and regretful. The post really made us seem as if we were nothing more than 'stupid fangirls' who had no reason behind their actions. It's not a problem for us as fans to receive such treatment, but it upset us to think that it might also harm JYJ's image as well.

I know that what you are doing for your blog has good intentions, but it does hurt me to see that you were able to turn a normal netizen who also happened to be a fan of the celebrity they left a positive comment for into a hyperactive 'stupid fangirl'.

Like I stated before, I do not think that the hateful comments themselves represent the opinions of the public. Netizens who leave unfounded rumors, hate, and swears are not the public but just keyboard warriors who need to pay the consequences for their crimes.

You say that it's 'too hardcore' for fans to go to this extent for responding to that, but I think that the people who choose to leave hateful replies over anything positive on an unrelated celebrity's article is more of a waste of life.

I'm not sure why the actions of the fandom need to be targeted as manipulative and reason for criticism. You might think that we are manipulating things with hacking programs and whatnot because there are so many of us but it's nothing like that at all. Individual fans will read the article and just react to it.

Whenever an article comes up on Nate or Nate Pann, netizens from all different social communities and boards will come to read it. It's just that one of them out of many happens to be a fan and it feels wrong to say that they are not allowed to share their reaction.

I tried to generalize my explanations as much as possible, but I don't know if I wrote everything I wanted to share because it got so long. I have so much I want to say but my writing skills aren't up to par so I'm not sure if my message was delivered. I sincerely hope that my thoughts were delivered, and if I could make one last request, I ask that you understand that JYJ's situation is very different from other celebrities. JYJ is often compared to the fight between David and Goliath, as they are the only celebrity to last until the end in a fight against such a large company. This will inevitably bring enemies.

This is not just the biased thoughts of fans talking for their artist, as it's true that SM has underlying connections to the government for the Hallyu industry and the extent of their power is not up for debate. There is an organization named KFPCAI backed by big agencies like SM, YG, and JYP that sent out a letter asking broadcast companies to block JYJ's activities on their channels [1] [2] in fear of JYJ collapsing the roots of the industry and negatively influence Hallyu and Korea's image. Despite the lawsuit, JYJ was given permission from the court to promote as they pleased, but obviously reality was quite different.

Currently, they are a free body after winning both lawsuits in Korea and Japan but that doesn't mean broadcast companies aren't pandering to the whims of big agencies. (When I say broadcast company, I mean variety shows. Drama and other genres are managed differently, and agencies cannot exert their power on them. That is why JYJ can appear in dramas but not variety or music programs. They are singers who cannot promote their music.)

They were faced with obstruction in every single thing they tried to do. For example, when they tried to hold a concert in Japan, they faced disruption in renting a concert hall so they had to face many rejections and search high and low for the one they eventually did find. When Japanese fans tried to rent buses to attend the concert, there were even disruptions made to the bus companies that canceled reservations.

As such, you can see that JYJ basically has no power to use the media to their advantage. Although it's gotten better recently, SM was strong with their media play in the beginning and the media was not that great as well. They never received what they rightfully earned but the media wrote as if they received everything and betrayed them.

And as you can see online, other SM artists have also criticized JYJ on their SNS, fueling their fans into thinking of JYJ as their enemy.

Because of these cases, JYJ has a lot of fans but also a lot of weird antis (not antis that criticize wrong, but those that create rumors and hate for no reason).

Please don't consider just them as the public and please view the fans as a part of the public and the netizen community. We are people who happen to like JYJ, not aliens from another world.

Although it hurts me to see comments about JYJ in a negative light, we never report them. We only report 'out of the ordinary' hate and rumors. Since the country is running a positive comment campaign, we are merely doing our part to leave positive replies and upkeep netiquette.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a nice day."


[Update] Additional explanations from the writer:

1. "There is a comment saying that although JYJ won their lawsuit against avex, that they did not technically win against SM. Indeed, they reached a settlement with SM but if you read for further information on (link provided), you will see that JYJ agreed to a settlement for SM and that it's a settlement on the surface, but a win under the surface. For the past three years, JYJ has not once stepped down from their stance in their legal battle unlike SM who dragged it on for three years in addition to trying to reach a settlement. If SM had made a third appeal, who knew how long the lawsuit would have taken. What SM wanted was the money made from their Japanese activities, and so JYJ complied, opting to give up that revenue to instead become free bodies. SM media played as if they settled with JYJ for JYJ's benefit but it's actually the other way around. The lawsuit can be viewed as a complete win for JYJ."

2. "There are talks about how JYJ fans will go into other celebrity's articles and take down comments praising them to replace them with comments about JYJ but that is not true at all and JYJ fans are claiming that the entire post was manipulated. Someone uploaded a post on Nate Pann that made it seem as if JYJ fans were linking the articles of other celebrities to manipulate the best replies within JYJ communities but those screencaps were actually JYJ fans sharing JYJ related links to write positive replies. Those links did not have anything to do with the articles of other celebrities. And as I explained earlier, there have been instances where articles unrelated to JYJ would have hateful comments about JYJ as the best reply. It's obvious that someone had malicious intentions as the article itself had nothing to do with JYJ. Fans merely saw that and voted it down. JYJ fans are not full time netizens nor do they have so much free time as to sit around trying to take down comments praising other celebrities."

3. "Regarding the activity of a positive comment campaign, it is a serious issue in Korea as portal sites like Nate, Naver, and others are notorious for the hate they generate in the netizen community. Although Nate has a lot more content than other communities, there is also that much more hate and useless information, which is inevitable in any community of such a large size. Fans never think of Nate opinions as that of the general public's and try not to pay them any mind. Nate is, however, a place visited and convenient for many so we just vote down any hateful replies or unfounded rumors as we see them while visiting the site. Fans of other celebrities will go into articles about their favorite stars if they see them on Nate or other portals and share their thoughts and opinions. They'll vote comments they agree with, down vote comments they don't agree with, and report any unfounded rumors. That is how the commenting system on Nate works."