In the year of a global pandemic that brought activity to a halt for musicians around the globe, the K-pop industry proved to be an illuminating case study in how to remain vibrant despite being distanced. As a music that thrives on the Internet with its highly visual nature, K-pop has been well positioned to maintain lively audiences through diverse and innovative content amidst the lockdown environment. Indeed, high-profile group BTS flourished in the time of COVID-19, garnering the Guinness record for most viewers of a music concert live stream. At the heart of this success is an engagement with fans that continues to drive BTS’s, and K-pop’s, rise to mainstream visibility, revealing a participatory nature that remains its strength. This essay reflects on K-pop fandom at the intersection of social media activity intensified in the COVID-19 era, focusing on the case of BTS and the group’s success in building community online.
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