The industry of Korean pop music is booming, with Western fans increasing in numbers as k-pop bands have started to appear in American TV-shows as well. Tickets for the BTS world tour were sold almost immediately and other bands like Blackpink and Monsta X have caught the world by storm as well. There is a sort of frenzy among fans with some rich ones even going to great lengths for their idols by giving to charity in their name or buying slots to advertise or congratulate their idol in the most expensive advertising places. As a fan of k-pop, I can really understand this hysteria as when I get obsessed with an idol, I keep searching for information regarding what they like and what they dislike and I watch countless videos of them on V-Live or You-Tube. K-pop fans fall in a fake love with their idol and this creates a sense of comfort and worship from their side.
Unlike with western artists, the k-pop industry is itself encouraging this behavior from their fans. They want fans to worship and go to great lengths for their idols and that is why the industry mostly focuses on bringing to the market bands and not individual artists. They want to make sure there is an individual to fit the tastes of all fans. Unfortunately this results in some members being more popular than others and it might greatly affect the group dynamics and their mental well-being (Sad but this is how it works I guess.).
The big three entertainment industries in Korea, YG, JYP and SM Town, pay a lot of attention to the visual appearance of their idols and it is one of the most important factors in recruiting. Moreover, they provide a lot of background information on the members of the bands such as their favorite food, their hobbies and their dream partner. This is all to provide fans with details on their favorite idol, so they can feel close to him. Companies make sure that idols are constantly active on V-Live where they can live stream themselves in normal situations and create a bond with their fans. Idols also have to participate in fan events and one can see many fans asking them to wear cute hats or make finger hearts just for them.
One of the most controversial things that Korean music companies ask their idols to do is sign contracts that do not allow them to date. This is how they keep their fan base strong. They have to create this idea that they can potentially become your future boyfriend. This is why the aegyo (cute behavior) is so popular among idols. They have to behave cutely for their fans just like a boyfriend or girlfriend would behave. An aegyo just for you! Even if their fans deep down know that their dream will never come true, idols still have to feed that dream for as long as they can. They are forced to create this image of themselves and become the fake 2D boyfriend/girlfriend of their fans.
If they fail then their whole career can be potentially ruined. When the news that Jennie from Blackpink was dating Kai from EXO, many fans directed their hate to her until she was forced to break up with him (My heart broke as well even though Kai was not my fav idol. So shallow of me!). It was worse for Hyuna and E’Dawn from Cube Entertainment that got kicked out as news of their relationship surfaced. Fans simply need to feel secure that their idol cannot direct their love to another human being (If you must, keep it secret!). It is sad since idols are human beings and have to live their life as well, but this is how the industry works and they have to keep the magic working. It is like with magicians. I know you are hiding the threads and that there is a secret compartment, but keep fooling me and do not show those threads. If you fail just once, the magic will be ruined and I will leave.
Idols! Keep fooling us! Make yourself the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. Show us some aegyo! But one mistake and your world will shake (Fake Sorry).