Fans fan the fire of obsession with idols

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/8 19:33:40

Photo: VCG

Idol culture - an obsessive attachment to celebrities - has swept Asian countries, and the shining idols have stolen many fans' hearts. In recent years, Chinese idol culture has almost assimilated South Korean and Japanese idol culture. A mature system of fans voting, giving publicity to their idols and unconditionally supporting them has found place in China.

However, some overzealous fans go to extremes: They stalk their idols, buy personal itinerary information, monitor their phones or sneak into hotel rooms and even hide under beds. These crazy droolers are called "sasaeng fans" in South Korea, or "sisheng fans" in Chinese - literally "private life fans."

Many cases in Asia show how obsessed and extreme these sasaengs could be. 

A recent example in August is China's Hong Kong singer Jackson Wang, who was seen questioning a fan behind a camera: "Are you the one who leaked my address?" Obviously Wang could recognize her because she had been following him for a long time.

Another example is Kim Hee-chul, famous South Korean singer and a member of South Korean group Super Junior. Kim once said that he could not take sasaengs' harassment and changed his private number. But after switching on his phone, he received a message: "You changed your phone number, and we know it." 

More creepily, in 2014, a sasaeng said online that he or she was selling the underpants of Doh Kyung-soo, a member of K-pop boy band EXO. "You can check the DNA on it," the sasaeng fan said, "I also have his socks. Don't criticize or attack me."

Sasaengs are not normal fans. Daily news, posters or lives are far from satisfying sasaengs. They want more than that. They want to peep at every detail of idols' personal life, see things that ordinary fans cannot, and they love the feeling of being in control. Essentially, these sasaengs are stalkers who have brought trouble and even threats to their beloved idols.

Most sasaengs are teenage girls, and such a hobby has seriously affected their lives. Because they are always busy following their idols from one place to another, they have to frequently skip classes, and some may even drop out of school in the end. Their daily schedule is completely determined by idols. They may even steal money from parents to buy expensive gifts for idols.

And being sasaengs will not only influence their personal development, but will cause psychological problems - because their unrequited and crazy love may never be responded to by idols. Thus, some teenage sasaengs may suffer from delusional disorder. For example, when sasaengs see idols saying sweet words in a romantic film, they think that the idols are expressing personal love to them. But in fact, these idols only have hatred for them.

Sasaeng fans tend to have a feeling that by grasping idols' private information and buying expensive presents for idols, they are having more say in the idol-fans relationship. However, sasaengs are not in control. Just the opposite, they are being controlled by idols. Sasaeng fans have lost their own life and have become appendages of idols. If they really love the idols, they should stay away from idols' private life and stop such harassment. 

Strictly speaking, some sasaeng fans have already violated the law by stalking and selling idols' personal information. This should be taken more seriously. 

In fact, many countries have laws that could be used to punish sasaeng fans. In the US the state of California adopted the country's first anti-stalking law as early as 1990. Japan also has laws that cover celebrity stalking, and behaviors such as waiting in front of houses and repeatedly demanding a relationship. 

China can learn from these countries' legal practice and provide better protection to celebrities.

Sasaeng fans need to rein in their love and stop living in a fantasy world. Fans are meant to admire and love their idols, not to stalk or control them. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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