Published: June 17, 2019

On April 19, 2019, CAS co-sponsored a talk by Michelle Cho, Assistant Professor of East Asian Popular Culture at the University of Toronto. K-pop proved to be a popular subject, drawing an audience of close to 80 students, faculty and staff. In her talk, Professor Cho investigated the interplay between performed life and "real" life of the members of the mega-popular band BTS. The image and fan interactions between the BTS group and their fans are both carefully crafted, but also have been part of an evolving genre of fan-interaction and fan-reaction live eperiences. She argued that without the web's capacity to live-stream experiences, the new developments of fans live-streaming their reactions to a live-stream performance or release has amplified the band's presence. In fact, she argues that without social media, BTS wouldn't be the world-wide phemomena that it is. 

She noted that fan-reaction live-streaming creates a kind of communal experience that isn't dependant on a specific location or demographic, and what was once the kind of shared experience found in a concert can now be achieved through this community-experience during a live-stream. 

BTS is also part of a deliberate exporting of South Korean culture, and works closely with the government to frame their image. 

This talk was full of compelling thoughts about how social media has made groups like BTS the global phenomena they have become. You can view Professor Cho's full talk here.