Prostituting Jimin: On the ethics of shipping real life K-pop idols

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On February 10th (at 1PM Philippine time!) I will be joining the fabulous people at BLush Convention – the longest running BL-related convention in the Philippines – via video link to give a presentation entitled Prostituting Jimin: On the ethics of shipping real life K-pop idols. Drawing upon recent fieldwork examining Japanese gay male fans’ consumption of K-pop (reported on here), as well as my own practices as a fan of the Korean boy band BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan), the presentation will be an informal exploration of some of the ethical dilemmas faced by those who partake in “Real Person Slash” (RPS) fanfiction.

Here is the (very tentative) abstract:

Within this presentation, I explore one facet of a recently emergent media fandom phenomenon: the integration of the fandoms of the Korean Wave and Japanese “boys love” (as well as the largely North American tradition of slash fandom). Beginning with a cursory discussion of the pleasures underlying the practice of “shipping” or “coupling” (kappuringu) male K-pop idols, within this presentation I explore the ethical dilemmas inherent to “RPS” or “real person slash” practices. I particularly draw upon the massive worldwide fandom of the Korean boy group BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) to ask what are the ethical problems that may surround the decision to “prostitute Jimin” (one of the popular members of this group), a common trope in fanfiction concerning the band. In particular, I reflect upon my own fan practices and fannish consumption to think through the ethics of “extreme fandom” and relate this to recent work emerging in the disciplines of Japanese pop culture studies and porn studies that have sought to explore the legal implications of such practices. To conclude, I briefly discuss my broader work exploring Japanese gay male fans of K-pop idols and compare this to my experiences in Australia and Manila where fan practices surrounding K-pop idols dramatically differ.

Please watch this space, as there is the potential for the event to be recorded and hence I can even share the presentation here!

One thought on “Prostituting Jimin: On the ethics of shipping real life K-pop idols

  1. Yes. Thank you for doing something about this. This issue needs to be addressed and awareness level need to be raised. You find Youtube alllowing such videos such as gay smuts depicting BTS members for public consumption, when these singers are real life people, not anime characters. Shipping affects ,more so than tabloids, public perception of these real life people but their companies not only does nothing about it, but possibly supports fan fics even feed them resources because K-Pop companies are very much in control of the idol’s lives. The fact that they have little time allowed away from work and they live in dorms devoid of contact with normal people, there are very real deprivation issues and emotional grooming done for the industry. They are also told lies about their weight and looks to keep them anime-figure like. In a way, their human rights are very much abused right before everyone’s eyes. To add on top of that uncontrolled amount of explicit fan fictions which objectify their bodies and personhood is exploitation. Fanfic sites, YouTube and K-Pop companies who are not protecting them (Big Hit for example) should all be responsible for their exploitation. These dirty deeds should be called into question by firs being revealed and parties challenged.

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