Kpop fans have played a major role in taking Kpop global. Their loyalty has helped many Kpop groups get massive exposure on YouTube and even break records. While you can find a fandom for almost anything on the internet, Kpop fandoms are the most passionate. Some super fans even have blogs about Kpop. While a vast majority of the best Kpop fandoms are legit fans, a tiny minority within fandoms are toxic fans that give fandoms a bad name.
Most Kpop fans have done a great job calling out hostile and hateful fans who bring down the Kpop community. It is one thing to love and support your favorite Kpop group, but it is another to hate and despise someone for liking or disliking a particular group. However, 99% of real fans have done an amazing job supporting their favorite Kpop group or groups. Therefore, this article will focus on the positive aspects of Kpop Fandom and not mention some of the toxic incidents.
BTS – ARMY
ARMY is BTS’s official fandom name. It was established in July of 2013. Many might not know what ARMY stands for. ARMY stands for Adorable Representative MC for You. The Army’s official lightstick is the Army Bomb which is very difficult to find online because it gets sold out quickly. ARMY is known for its passion for BTS merchandise. For example, the average BTS fan has spent over $1,400 on BTS merchandise, concert tickets, and exclusive content.
When BTS had to cancel their shows in Seoul due to Covid and refunded the fans. Army then started a social media movement to donate concert ticket refunds ($333,000) to coronavirus relief. The Army was inspired by Suga’s donation of $83,000 to COVID-19 relief efforts. The dedication of the ARMY is pretty impressive and admirable. They prove just how powerful Kpop fandoms can be and how much love and support could make a group go.
Estimated ARMY: 40 million+ members
BLACKPINK – Blinks
Blink is the official fandom name of BLACKPINK. The name was created from the combination of Black and Pink. The group members themselves came up with the fandom name in late 2016. Their official lightstick is one of the most recognizable as it has two lit hearts on both sides. They might be the only Kpop fandom that can compete in terms of social media influence with ARMY. With Rose and Lisa coming out with their solo debuts in 2021, Blinks will also support them. There is a reason why BLACKPINK can break viewing records on YouTube constantly, their fandom is dedicated.
Estimated Blinks: 20 million+ members
EXO – EXO-L
EXO has some of the strongest fans in all of Asia. Their official fandom was created in August of 2014 with the name EXO-L. The L stands for Love. EXO has been doing a great job connecting with fans via social media, even though they have not been very active in the last few years. However, you can’t deny the passion of EXO-Ls. There was a clear example when EXO-L’s created a light show that spelled out EXO WE ARE ONE at one of the concerts that took place in a stadium. It is one of the most impressive fan-choreographed showcases of all time.
Estimated EXO-L: 4 million+ members
Twice – ONCE
Twice fandom is called ONCE. The saying goes, if you love us even once, we’ll repay you with Twice the love. The group promised to work hard so that you could look at them once and fall in love with them Twice. Twice’s official lightstick is the candy bomb. When you go to a Twice concert, you can’t miss their fans making visuals using these lightsticks. For Twice fans in Korea, they are called ONCE Candy, and for fans outside of Korea, they are called ONCE Jelly. 2021 was a massive year for TWICE, and expect bigger things in 2022.
Estimated ONCE: 4 million+ members
Super Junior – ELF
Super Junior has one of the most loyal fandoms in Kpop. Many have waited patiently for all the members to return from their military service. They have been through a lot and have stuck by Super Junior, from members leaving to members dating. One might say that ELFs are the most mature of all Kpop fandoms.
Estimated ELF: 3 million+ members
BIGBANG – V.I.P.
BIGBANG has some of the biggest Kpop tours in history, showing how big this fandom was at its peak. Before ARMY and EXO-L’s, there were V.I.P.s. They played a major role in helping take Kpop international and making BIGBANG one of the greatest Kpop boy groups of all time. Many have moved on to other fandoms, but V.I.P. still needs to be on this list as they still continue to have loyal fans in Korea and around the world, especially in the west. While a five-member comeback is unlikely, there is a chance that a four-member comeback could happen in the coming years.
Estimated VIP: 3 million+ members
SNSD – Sone
SNSD was one of the first girl groups to succeed outside South Korea and Asia. Their fandom is called Sone, which means “to wish” in Korean. They were one of the first fandoms to leverage social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and even Tumblr to promote their group. In addition, thanks to social media, SNSD was able to grow its fan community very quickly. While SNSD members have gone on to other individual successes, no one ever truly leaves the fandom. A SONE is a SONE for life.
Estimated Sone: 2 million+ members
StrayKids – Stays
2021 was a massive year for StrayKids, which means Stays are growing by the month. The overall fandom is so positive and incredibly supportive. While others have much bigger fandoms, Stays are some of the best fans around. STAY is the official fandom for Stray Kids. It was created by Woojin Entertainment with the help of the fans. STAY is Stray without the r. The “r” in Stray stands for reason. Therefore their fans are their reason and where they stay.
Estimated Stay: 1.8 million+ members
SHINee – Shawol (SHINee World)
Shawol is short for SHINee World. SM Entertainment has grown its fandom by creating big and smaller websites for each specific group. In addition, most members have their own website for their promotional needs. For example, Jonghyun and Taemin each have their own website outside SHINee’s official website. They even have a separate website for Japanese fans called SHINee World J. In 2021, Key had one of the best Kpop solo albums of the year with Bad Love, and the support from Shawols was a major reason for its success.
Estimated Shawol: 1.5 million + members
TXT – MOA
TXT (TOMORROW X TOGETHER) had an amazing 2021 and the best Kpop group album with The Chaos Chapter: Freeze. Their fandom name is MOA which stands for “Moments of Alwaysness.” TXT fans shared their many ideas, but the group ended up going with MOA. They felt it showed that each moment of TXT will be shared with their fans always and forever.
Estimated MOA: 1.5 million+ members
GOT7 – Ahgase (I GOT7)
Ahgase is the official fandom name for GOT7, meaning “baby bird” in Korean. The fandom was founded in 2014 through an announcement on its YouTube channel. Jackson made it fully official by referring to fans as Ahgase. The baby bird was a key design factor in creating the official light stick.