Newsflash 🙆♀️ Newsflash 🙆♀️ Oh, hi! I'm Minji, here to bring you the latest trends from Korea. In this issue, I have prepared some very special news for NCT fans. Let me walk you through how Korean fans are fanning these days! By the way, today's trending photos were anonymously provided by an NCTzen.
ⓒTwitter @77JD26 NCT Photo Account
If you're an active fan on social media, you might have heard of the phrase "I share the code of 'p-box'(프박)". P-box is an abbreviation of "printing box"(프린팅박스). It’s a machine that prints photos when you enter a code. What can you do with the printing box? You can do an unofficial merchandise draw!
You can also print fan art, selfies of your favorite idol, high definition photos, and more. The photos come in various formats so fans can use it for postcards, photo IDs, and polaroids📸, just to name a few. Keep in mind, if you receive a photo created by another NCTzen, the code is only valid for 24 hours, so act quickly!🏃♀️
But there's something unsatisfying about photos—something photos lack. You can print, decorate, collect photos, but at the end of the day, they're just photos. They don’t offer the satisfaction that tangible objects provide. That’s why fans started making dolls.
Attending the concert!
Mark's 'Cheetah Lee' and Haechan's 'Lee-ggom-chan'
Fans create "sominhyeong" or plush dolls that take the form of animals but resemble idols. The variety of designs is vast, as each doll features a unique design. These small and cute dolls are referred to as "ilko", meaning you can proudly display them anywhere. In essence, the sominhyeong are miniature models🐥of fans' favorite idols, making them highly cherished items.
An account selling dolls that shares tips on doll customization
It's true that plush dolls don't always come out looking pretty. Since they are usually mass-produced in factories, there can be slight variations in the shape of each product. Hence, fans started to manipulate the stuffing and groom the fur💇♀️ to make it look round💆♀️ and pretty in a process called "gyeongnak". It has become so popular recently that there are even "gyeongnak commissions" available.
(Left)'Cheetah Lee' and Renjun's 'ren_myang' (Right) Haechan's 'zzangomi', 'ren_myang', 'Cheetah Lee'
Isn't it disappointing to keep your photo cards from a printing box(프박) and your favorite doll at home? That's why NCTzens in Korea take them everywhere they go. NCTzens take photo cards to cafes, enjoy drinks together, and even travel together with their photo cards. I once witnessed an adorable encounter between two NCTzens at a restaurant when they accidentally bumped into each other (each holding a doll of a different member). After exchanging glances, they shook their dolls' hands to greet each other! It was an adorable and secret encounter of two cute fans.
I should record the places I've been to myself! On the SNS platform Twitter where fandom culture is most developed, you can find hashtags like #재혀니_맛있게머겅 (#JaeHyun_EatDeliciously) and #먹어봤도영 (#TriedItToo). These are common hashtags for documenting places you've been to and for recommending to fans. It would be great to have a hashtag for Minji too! How about #민쥐야_가보자고 (#MinjiLetsGo)?
(left) Jisung's ‘Kong-jjwi', 'Zzan-gomi', Mark's 'Cheetah Lee', (right) 'Cheetah Lee', 'Ren-myang', 'Lee-ggom-chan'
Including dolls or photo cards in pictures is a must! Fans on Twitter coined the term "etiquette shots" 📷, implying it is proper etiquette to take a photo with your photo card and doll before eating.
Come to think of it, I feel like fan culture is gradually shifting from official events to informal but cherishable parts of everyday life. Looking into the past, fans had to attend official broadcasts, concerts, fan meetings, and join fan clubs to engage in fan activities.
However, with the advancement of smartphones📱and the emergence of individual members' social media accounts with direct channels of communication, idols who were once only seen from a distance have now become more accessible. 🥰 The current generation leading K-pop fan culture values both the real world and online realm. They record their daily lives of being a fan online, and view and reproduce other fans' experiences, seemingly blurring the lines between online and offline activities.
The same goes for photo cards. Official photo cards are still highly popular and traded for significant sums of money. However, with fan events and printing boxes, it is possible to create unofficial goods that are just as beautiful. It feels like fans are moving towards a fan culture where instead of solely enjoying what is available officially, they are customizing and personalizing their own fandom experiences.
The stuffed animals (Cheetah Lee, Lee-ggom-chan, Ren-myang) all gathered at Rénjùn's cafe
Where is the best place to see such fandom activities? The birthday cafe! The birthday cafe is a place where fans celebrate their favorite idols' birthdays—for example, Mark's Birthday Cafe or Taeyong's Birthday Cafe. The key point is the members, the main characters, don't actually come.
When you go to the birthday cafe, you can see your favorite idol's pictures on the wall, cute cup holders adorned with their pictures, and various dolls and photocards placed on the table. Everything from A to Z—it's all about your favorite idol. 💞 Isn't it so romantic that NCTzens gather in a place purely based on their fanning for their idols?
How is it that although you can't see the artist in person, you can still feel the hearts of Korean fans who fill their lives through photocards, dolls, and interactions with other fans? I guess eating delicious food and seeing beautiful scenery with someone you love is an undeniable, universal desire.
By the way, I'm curious how international fans are engaging with the fandom these days. Korean fans are most active on Twitter, but I wonder, are there other communities of K-pop fandoms overseas? If you have the time, tell me in the "Talk to Minji" section below✨
By the way, all the subtitles of today's newsletter were taken from NCT's music. If you click on the subtitles, you can listen to the music 🎶, so keep that in mind! The title is from NCT DREAM's new song, so give it a listen! Thanks once again to the anonymous NCTzen for providing the trendy photos for today's newsletter! 🙇♀️
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think of today’s 유행?
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So how exactly did the ‘side-eye champs’ become so popular?
See you every other Monday!