Spoiling idols with extravagant birthday gifts becomes target of criticism
Published: Jan 06, 2021 09:25 PM

South Korean idol Kim Jisoo celebrates her birthday with flowers sent from fans. Photo: Weibo

Kim Jisoo, a female idol in South Korea's popular girl group Blackpink, turned 26 years old on Sunday as Chinese fans wished her a happy birthday and sent her a ton of gifts - worth 3.7 million yuan ($573,000). 

A post by the idol's major Chinese fan site KimjisooBar on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo shows that Chinese fans have prepared various thoughtful gifts that are ready to send to Jisoo in South Korea. The majority of those presents are fancy and lavish items such as Cartier watches, Christian Dior perfume, Gucci Jumper as well as a rare and high-priced Hermes Birkin bag that is considered the tip of the pyramid of the luxury. 

A following post the fan site published on Tuesday shows that the presents have been finely wrapped in white paper, and have already been delivered to Jisoo's agency YG Entertainment. 

"It was totally worthy my money. I feel excited thinking about what Jisoo's reaction will be when she sees these things," a fan commented on the Sina Weibo post. 

Jisoo fan's lavish treatment of the idol quickly stirred up criticism and concern among netizens who questioned whether such materialistic support was necessary. 

"I think it is too much and unnecessary. Isn't supporting their [Blackpink] music a better way to spoil your idol?" said a netizen. 

"Shouldn't this be criticized, like what just happened a few days ago with He Jiong?" Posted by another netizen referring to the recent controversy in which famous Chinese entertainment show host He Jiong complained that his fans kept sending him gifts with stickers bearing his name which meant he was unable to regift those presents to others.  

Supporting fans with gifts is a part of fan culture called ying yuan in Chinese. It originated in South Korea in the late 1990s, but has now widely expanded to countries such as China and Japan as a means for fans to cheer on their idols. 

"I went to various [ying yuan] activities when I was lived in Seoul. You can find information about ying yuan activities on your idol's fan site. I bought a royal-blue light to support my favorite idol band because that's their ying yuan color," Yanyan, a Chinese fan in Chongqing, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"It is very common for fans to send gifts to their idol, but such luxurious gifts, from my perspective, is showing-off a bit and vain. Vanity is transmissible. Fans always want their idols to have better things than any other one does," Wendy, a Chinese fan who was keen on joining ying yuan activities, told the Global Time on Wednesday. 

"A fan's decision to support his or her idols is harmless I think. The real point that is questionable is the fact that this expensive support is not entirely out of love for their idol but to help the idol save face," Wendy emphasized. 

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