Reporters uncover the dark truth behind the daily activities of sasaeng fans
Sasaeng fans have always been at the center of controversy in K-Pop culture, especially with the recent scandals involving JYJ. Reporters set out to get a deeper glimpse into just what makes up a sasaeng fan and what drives them to do the things they do.
On March 14th, reporters arrived in front of a beauty salon in Cheongdamdong, Seoul, a place that would normally be bustling with the extremest of sasaeng fans hoping to catch their favorite stars as they head out to work. The place was mostly empty, however, with the recent controversies with JYJcoming to light in the media.
One sasaeng fan named ‘Kim‘ (18) who was lingering in front of the salon expressed, “Ever since the controversy, everyone’s been trying to stay on the down low. However, we can never stop.”
Reporters also met with four sasaeng fans after circling the salons in four popular areas that celebrities frequent and sat down with them to dig deeper.
They revealed, “Popular stars have 500 to 1,000 sasaeng fans. Our names have to remain anonymous because if other sasaengs find out that we met with the media, we will be outcast.”
One sasaeng was spotted outside of an entertainment agency looking inside a van to check if a manager was in there. Immediately, she took out her phone and KakaoTalked her other sasaeng friends, alerting them of the discovery.
Kim (18) revealed that up until elementary school, she just watched the TV performances of her favorite stars. She bought their albums and joined their fanclubs, but was unfortunately an outcast in her own school, which led her to delve further and further into the fanclubs.
She later got into writing fanfiction about sasaengs falling in love with idols, sometimes even believing the stories to be real in delusion. In junior high school, she chased her idol down in a taxi for the first time, which was the start of her sasaeng activities.
She stated, “We have fun just with ourselves. As long as there is oppa, we believe that we are one.”
Jung (16) has been a sasaeng for five years. The areas she frequents are her idols’ dorm, practice room, and salon. Because she’s been in the culture for so long, she already has a group that she hangs out with and shares information through KakaoTalk. Her sasaeng friends immediately gather upon hearing her alerts.
Despite moving as a group, there’s fierce competition within the group for special and exclusive photos they take of their oppas. “We check each others’ blogs out and look at their pictures and blog entries. The more exclusives there are, the more views you get, so there’s a lot of competition.”
Lee (15) spends about $1,000 USD a month on her sasaeng activities alone, which mostly goes into paying for the taxis that chase her oppas down.
Renting out a sasaeng taxi for a day costs $300 USD. She saves money by working part time at convenience stores and comic book rental stores, as well as saving $500 USD that would normally go into her after school classes.
She revealed, “I heard that there is also a girl that prostitutes herself to make money for her sasaeng activities.”
Sasaeng fans usually sleep or spend the night at PC rooms. Some will even be homeless during the summer and skip out on school. Extreme sasaeng fans go as far as to drop out of school completely.
The sad reality is that there are taxi services, as mentioned above, catering specifically for sasaeng fans. These special taxis will speed as much as 200 km/h to chase after vans that idols ride.
Sasaeng taxis can be found waiting around outside of celebrity dorms or broadcast halls to catch newbie and desperate fans.
Kim (37), a sasaeng taxi driver of four years, revealed, “I charge $30 USD per hour. It’s hard to stop because you can make a lot of money out of it. I take sasaengs about two days out of the week.”
Other drivers charge $500 USD for nine hours of service.
Kim is already a favorite amongst some fans and many have been using his services for years. Some taxi drivers will actually text newbie sasaengs the whereabouts of their idols to get them to take their service.
The fans were then asked about the hatred and criticism they’ve been receiving since the scandal with JYJ came to light in the media.
Park (18) replied, “There are rules even amongst ourselves that we must keep. The fan that tried to kiss oppa broke one of our rules. I heard that that particular fan was assaulted by other sasaengs for breaking the rule.”
Park also revealed that she felt regretful about the negative view people had of people like her. “There is no way that oppas can be where they are now just by singing and dancing. We give them the support they need to get popular. Singers are celebrities. This is how they make money.”
As if all of this wasn’t already hard to believe, there are actual companies that fans can hire to spy on and watch over their oppas’ every activity all day.
One official of such a company revealed, “Sasaeng fans are stalkers. They’re not normal, they’ve mentioned killing someone, and even themselves. Some even ask us to find out what color clothes their idols wear to bed.”
One sasaeng even offered $100,000 USD if the company could steal her idol’s underwear.