The Dark Side of Fame: Sasaeng Stalkers
Since its beginnings, K-pop has awakened idol adoration in young fans that will fly long distance and spend a vast quantity of money on merchandise and concert tickets. Euphoria and dedication team up in a symbiotic relationship that economically sustains K-pop celebrities.
In fact, K-pop stars are known for a common phrase: “We are nothing without our fans”.
However, the quandary starts when fans' devotion crosses the line of sanity to become scary, creepy stalkers willing to poison, offer sexual favours, install hidden cameras in their idols' homes and cars or send them letters written in menstrual blood.
K-pop groupies, fans or stalkers… there is a new breed of followers who make K-pop idols' lives real nightmares. How are they called? “Sasaeng” or “private fans” –female, starting as young as 13 to about 22- whose obsession with their idols have driven them to commit horrible and disturbing deeds.
What started out as groups of teenaged girls banding together to support their K-pop idols has turned into a chilling, violent cult who have made it their vital goal to ensure that they are noticed by their idols, by hook or by crook.
Top K-wave stars targeted include JYJ, TVXQ, B2ST, Jang Geun Suk, Big Bang, Super Junior, SHINee and SS501's Kim Hyun Joong.
Korean managers speaking to Korean media have revealed that popular stars have between 500 to 1,000 sasaeng fans. On a daily basis, idols have at least 100 full-time stalkers on their hind.
JYJ and TVXQ, especially, have been victims of this persecution. For instance, TVXQ's phone lines have been tapped and personal conversations recorded, while their apartment was broken into and sasaeng attempted to kiss them while they were sleeping. Alarmingly so, TVXQ's Yunho was poisoned by an anti-fan who gave him a drink with an adhesive mixed in and after this he had to get his stomach pumped. Likewise, JYJ's Yoochum had sasaeng fans installing spy cameras in his parking lot and taking pictures of him.
Sasaeng's eccentricities are not limited to terrorising their idols, but it also affects their lifestyles. After a full day of stalking, instead of sleeping at home, they spend the night at Internet cafes; many skip schools while others drop out completely. Their lives are full of these K-pop stars memorabilia, shared information about their idols whereabouts and private life on social media plus K-pop photos all around.
Rumours point at some sasaeng earn money by prostitution to support their day-to-day stalking which is an expensive quest as many of the sasaeng hire special taxi drivers to follow their idols or even hire companies to spy on their idols.