No hiatus for good governance: Kpop fans are joining the stage for 2022 polls, too

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
No hiatus for good governance: Kpop fans are joining the stage for 2022 polls, too
This photo was taken during the Kpop World Music Festival at the Mall of Asia Arena on June 9, 2019. Fans of girl group Red Velvet donned banana costumes, a nod to the groups hit song "Power Up."
Philstar.com / Kristine Joy Patag

This is Part 2 of a two-part feature. Read Part 1: In 2022 polls, it will be elections season feat. Kpop and stans calling the public to vote


MANILA, Philippines — For the 2022 polls, thousands of Filipino K-pop multi-stans are making a show of force not to support an idol group’s comeback but to stage a political campaign.

When Vice President Leni Robredo ended her long discernment and announced she is running, a “spark” was ignited in six long-time Kpop fans. On the same day, Kpop Stans 4 Leni was launched.

The group’s debut (Read: First tweet) was a multi-camera view of Robredo announcing her intention to run superimposed with a MAMA fancam of BTS, GOT7 and ITZY standing up to cheer her.

This earned more than 5,000 retweets and 10,000 favorites.

This is just a glimpse into what the thousands-strong Kpop Stans 4 Leni group is preparing to endorse their candidate: A campaign Kpop style.

Achieving that 'Perfect All Kill'

The Facebook group says a bold declaration of “Leni Unnie”—Korean term for younger females to older females—as the president. On Twitter, where trending hashtags are mostly dominated by K-pop related topics, the group says they aim to achieve a Perfect-All-Kill for 2022 presidential elections.

Perfect All Kill (PAK) is an achievement by Kpop acts who simultaneously reach the top spot on real-time, daily and weekly charts.

To do this, Majo* says the group is studying how to “best integrate campaigning and Kpop.”

She explains that not all Korean activities can be used for their goal to campaign for a candidate. Say, fans sending a coffee truck to their idols who are filming will not work for the campaign seasons. The coffee truck would bear the face and name of their idols and would serve drinks to everyone on the crew set.

“What will that contribute to the elections? We can’t just do that just because it’s Korean or K-pop,” Majo adds, as she stresses: “It has to be aligned also, it is campaigning at the end of the day.”

At this point, with barely a month since Robredo declared her intention to run, the Kpop Stans 4 Leni are still drawing plans on what practices or activities to adopt for their campaign.

Majo says they are looking into conducting cup sleeve events—where the face of the candidate will be put on the cup sleeves—as well as fundraising for merch (Kpop sells a variety of merch from shirts to towels even clothes hanger) and community pantries.

Kpop Stans 4 Leni's main team is composed of students and young professionals who have been part of the workforce for a few years. Majo says their group is operating like a college organization, divided into several teams. She heads the externals. A creative team receives requests, in a dedicated form, for infographics. The turnaround for the materials would be a day or two.

But she explains that these K-pop activities for the campaign are all up in the air as of now. “We can’t throw our ideas right now in one basket. We have to make sure that people are not tired of supporting, so we’re taking time to plan things out,” Majo adds.

The online space is 'ours'

A few years ago, Kpop thrived on a niche audience but with the rise to the global popularity of their Korean culture, fans have been dominating virtual spaces too. Fans routinely check Facebook groups, join Twitter trends and never forget streaming their favorites’ MVs.

Their long hours on several social media spaces allowed them to get a grasp of how best to put their campaign out there.

“We have a dedicated team specifically to social media and tackling those platforms… So it will be different approaches, so we’re trying to understand how each of those platforms work so we can figure out how best to attack them,” Majo says.

For Facebook, a team is helping take down accounts that share false news. On video-sharing application TikTok, Majo says they are looking to “getting Leni content out there.”

For Stan twitter, trending hashtags are a staple for every birthday, the anniversary of idols or comebacks. For the elections, Majo says they started a trending campaign: Mass report hour.

“We figured there was a need for it because misinformation and fake news and revisionism are rampant and we should do this,” she explains.

“We were throwing around ideas that maybe we should do this weekly, once a month. But it became apparent that it has to be a daily thing. It has to be,” she adds.

When the clock strikes 8 p.m., the group and their throng of volunteers mass report accounts or posts that spread false news and misinformation. They also encourage fans outside their group to do so and “maintain being good stans.”

Expanding offline

The elections will not be the first time K-pop fans are making a show of force to rally behind a cause.

Pre-pandemic, fans would also donate on behalf of their idols. Patches of land for the planting of trees had been bought; rice wreaths were put on display outside concert venues that would eventually be donated to charities under their idol’s names.

Kpop idols and actors themselves regularly donate to causes or charities.

At the start of the lockdown, local K-pop fandoms sent food packs to frontliners. On their packaging, faces of EXO would greet the weary healthcare workers before they enjoy their hot meals.

When community pantries sprung up, Filipino ARMY (fandom of the juggernaut group BTS) adorned their food tables with purple (the group’s color). Seemingly it would like Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook are giving away free rice and food.

Majo says their group knows that the best they can offer is their online manpower.

“We do have a pool of volunteers who help us but the people who spread the word out, are essentially everyone who may not be part of the volunteer group or Facebook group,” she says.

“They are just out there and they’re Kpop stans for Leni or for better governance,” she adds.

And for the 2022 polls, they know will take it outside online spaces, their stronghold.

“Our instructions to you is to do this, in your families or with your own group of friends, but we’re just gonna share it through online medium. We ask people on Twitter to talk to a friend today and listen to why they want to vote for this kind of person,” she says.

“The intention is to spread the word online like that’s our communications platform but the call to action is offline,” she adds.

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