K-Pop Podfic

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Synonyms: Kpop Podfic, Kpod Fic
See also: K-Pop, Podfic
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K-Pop Podfic is a subgroup of the K-Pop Fanfiction and general Podfic communities. Podficcers record fanfic, alone or as Multi-voice Podfic, and post it to stream or as MP3 files. As of December 14, 2021, over 260 hours of K-Pop podfic have been posted to AO3 and other sites across more than 300 podfics. Podfic in the K-Pop community is a relatively small subcategory of the overall K-Pop fanfic community - and there is much debate over why that may be - but its proponents are nevertheless dedicated; hosting events, collaborating on podfic, and teaching others how to post podfic.


Timeline of Notable Podfic

AO3

As of October 10, 2021, there were 283 K-Pop fanworks tagged as “podfic,” all but two of which were in English. Of these, 145 (54%) were for BTS, 22 (8%) were for EXO, 19 (7%) were for NCT, 18 (7%) for Stray Kids, 12 (4%) for SEVENTEEN, 6 (2%) for GOT7, and 5 each (2%) for Mamamoo, Day6, TWICE, and TXT.[1]

The first K-Pop fanwork that uses the “podfic” tag on AO3 is the Miss A podfic “Balance,”[2] read by Chestnut_pod, based on a fic of the same name by Aja. The podfic was posted on October 27, 2012. It is a smut podfic for the Wang Feifei/Li Min Young ship, and is 6 and a half minutes long.

This would remain the only fanwork in the K-Pop fandom to either be tagged as “podfic” or to use the word in its summary until January 21, 2014, when the Big Bang podfic “Noona,” by creepy_crawley (based on a fic of the same name by the same author) would be published. “Noona” is an M-rated podfic focused on the T.O.P./Kwon Jiyong | G-Dragon pairing, and is about 40 minutes long.

After “Noona,” the pace of podfic being posted on AO3 rapidly increased, with a new podfic being posted every few months, until many podfics were being posted each month.

K-Pop Podfic over the years
A chart of K-Pop podfic posted to AO3 every year. Blue is the number of new Podfics posted in a given year, and red is the total number of podfics on AO3 at the end of that year.

The first BTS podfic was “Living by troubleseason” which was posted on November 28, 2015 by bluedreaming (originally under the Pseud lowerbranches). The podfic was based on the fic “Living” by troubleseason (Pseud: cats_cradle6766). The podfic is almost 19 minutes long, and focuses on Kim Namjoon and Jeon Jungkook. It is rated T and is not focused primarily on a romantic ship.

Another notable early BTS podfic is “Beta Tau Sigma”, a podfic by rkatz based on a NamJin (Kim Nanjoon/Kim Seokjin) fic of the same name by bazooka. As one of the first podfics based on such a long and popular fic for BTS, it’s considered to be very influential within the fandom. As of October 2021, it is still the most popular stand-alone podfic (podfic that is separate from the fic it is based on) on AO3 when sorted by comments or bookmarks, and the second most popular when sorted by kudos.[3] The podfic was posted on May 11, 2016. It encompasses the 18 chapters of the original story plus a short 10 minute file with commentary about the podfic. The total length is over 13 hours long, with some individual chapters being over an hour apiece.



Other Locations

Although AO3 is the largest fanfic repository for (English) K-Pop fanfic as of 2021, it is hardly the only repository of K-Pop Podfic, and some K-Pop Podfic even predates the site. Many podfics at this time were posted to blogging sites like Livejournal, which may require permissions to access. However, some of these are archived in places like audiofics.jinjurly.com, and are saved for posterity.

The first known K-Pop Podfics were the TVXQ podfics “With Me” and “Because Love is the Only Escape”, written and read by Solo’s Cry, which were then archived by jinjurly on audiofic on September 28, 2008. Both podfics are for U-Know Yunho/Hero Jaejoong and are less than 10 minutes long.

The next known K-Pop podfic is the podfic “The Breath of Life in Me (or, 10 People Who Loved Lee Donghae)” by 2naonh3_cl2, archived anonymously in 2010 on audiofic. It is a fifteen minute podfic for the Super Junior fandom. It is based on a livejournal fic of the same name by meiface. After that is another TVXQ podfic, “This Too Shall Pass” by becquinho, read by unlearned and archived by dodie in 2012, the same year the first K-Pop podfic was posted to AO3.

In 2013 the Super Junior podfic, “If I’m Gone” was posted, written by coley_merrin, read by natoseuka, and archived by sisi_rambles. It was for the Hankyung/Siwon pairing and was 12 minutes long. Later in 2013, the last known K-pop podfic on audiofic was posted for Super Junior-M, the Chinese sub-unit of Super Junior. It’s “The Black Unicorn”, also written by coley_merrin and read by natoseuka, but archived by jesperanda. It is a Kyuhyun/Zhou Mi podfic and is about five minutes long.


Collections and Popular Podfic

Notable Podficcers

lysandra (pxssnelke)

The most prolific K-Pop podficcer (as of January 2022) on AO3, pxssnelke has created or contributed to at least 89 K-Pop Podfics, or more than 1/5 of all K-Pop podfics on AO3. Of these, the majority are for BTS (61), but 9 are for Seventeen, 8 are for Stray Kids, 6 are for TXT, 3 are for ATEEZ, 1 is for Red Velvet, and 1 is for BTOB. pxssnelke has posted more than 79 hours of podfic, including the longest complete tagged K-Pop Podfic on AO3, coming in at 21.5 hours of recording work on that podfic alone. pxssnelke was also a member of Voiceteam Mystery Box 2020 Team K-Pop and Mystery Box 2021 Team K-Pop.


averytree

Another prolific K-Pop podficcer, averytree has created 47 K-Pop Podfics., or roughly 1/6 of all K-Pop podfics posted at this time. Their work is somewhat more diverse than lysandra's. Just over half of the works at this time are for BTS, but they also wrote 3 or more fics for SEVENTEEN, NCT, EXO, Monsta X, and SuperM, as well as for several other groups. Their podfic More Walls (Collected Along the Way) is the 9th most kudos'd and bookmarked K-Pop Podfic, and the third most kudos'd standalone K-Pop Podfic, as of December 2021. They also edited the popular multivoice podfic Pull Me Under by Oh_Hey_Tae. Additionally, averytree was the team coordinator for Team Kpop of Voiceteam Mystery Box 2020 and a recurring contributor to Behind the Pod.


the24thkey

Rather than focusing on one group, the24thkey has a relatively diverse range of groups for their podfic. Out of 45 podfics (~1/6 of the overall K-Pop Podfic posted at the time), 11 are for BTS, 10 are for Stray Kids, and then there are four or fewer podfics for over 10 other groups. Four of their podfics are in the top 20 most Kudos'd and bookmarked K-Pop podfic on AO3 as of December 2021.


read by (bluedreaming)

bluedreaming has posted 15 K-Pop Podfics (~5% of all AO3 podfics) as of December 2021. However, bluedreaming has probably contributed more to background efforts within the community, including helping run the first known K-Pop Podfic event kpodficmix, and has also collaborated on some multivoice podfics. In February 2021, to record and preserve the K-Pop Podfic community's accomplishments, bluedreaming used a winning Fandom Trumps Hate fan labor bid to have the basics of this page laid out.


signis_reads (signifying_nothing)

Although less prolific than some, signis_reads might be the most popular K-Pop Podficcer on AO3 as of the end of 2021. Out of 8 works, 2 of their podfics are in the top 3 most popular (by kudos, comments, and bookmarks) standalone K-Pop podfics on AO3, or the top 5 most popular K-Pop Podfics overall on AO3, as of December 2021. Both are BTS podfics: Up We Go and Delta.


Popular Podfic

even the weariest river by lysandra (pxssnelke)

Based on a fic of the same title by vxmins, even the weariest river might be the longest complete K-Pop podfic on AO3 (as of December 2021). Coming in at over 20 hours (the only completed podfic to be tagged at such a length), this behemoth of a Vmin BTS fic focuses on Kim Taehyung ("V") and Park Jimin falling in love in an Alternate Universe where the group members are royalty in a world at war. It was recorded for Voiceteam 2021.


Antebellum: Long Live the Fourth by cobbie

A Work In Progress, based on the the fic by PrettyBoyKiller (also a Work In Progress), Antebellum: Long Live the Fourth is currently the longest K-Pop podfic on AO3 (as of January 2022), and is also cobbie's first podfic. It is a BTS OT7-Centric Crime AU where Yoongi is an assassin.


Seoul: Heartless City by HunterOta

The most popular K-Pop Podfic on AO3 by Kudos, Comments, and Bookmarks as of December 2021, although this metric is skewed since it is not a standalone podfic, but rather partially an auditory experience with videos embedded directly into a fic that is primarily text, so the popularity reflects both readers and listeners of the fic, and this might not be considered podfic in the traditional sense. It is nevertheless popular, and an exploration of podfic as a concept in fandom, and thus worthy of note.


Imprints (For the Boys in the Back) by readbylunchee (lunchee)

The most popular stand-alone (separate from the text of the fic) K-Pop Podfic by kudos (as of December 2021), and the 3rd most popular overall by kudos. Based on a fic of the same name by anna (arctic_grey), it is a 7 hour BTS namjim (Kim Namjoon | RM/Kim Seokjin | Jin) podfic.


Up We Go by signis_reads (signifying_nothing)

The most popular stand-alone (separate from the text of the fic) K-Pop Podfic, and the 3rd most popular overall by comments, as of December 2021. The podfic is over ten hours long, and is based on a BTS fic of the same name by Oh_Hey_Tae.


Like a Thousand Exploding Suns by baeconandeggs, Luciferland, and winter__child (Park_Noodle)

This EXO podfic appears to be the most popular non-BTS podfic on AO3 as of December 2021 by kudos, comments, and bookmarks. However, it is not standalone, and is in fact primarily the text of the original fic, with a separate link to the podfic itself hosted on Mediafire, so its popularity may be skewed by readers more than listeners.


The Typical Love Song by the24thkey

This NCT podfic is most popular standalone non-BTS podfic on AO3 by kudos and bookmarks as of December 2021. It is based on a fic of the same name by jamjoon.


Sneak Out The Background by averytree

This NCT and SuperM Crossover podfic is most popular standalone non-BTS podfic on AO3 by comments as of December 2021. It is based on a fic of the same name by magicsoul (cherishiskisa).


Collections

Podfic Events

2016

An casual exchange run by hyemiyah and bluedreaming aimed at encouraging new and less experienced fan-creators to give podficcing a try in a "low pressure" environment where more experienced podficcers could help them out with the technical details.


2018

Also known as #ITPE. Originally billed as an exchange with ‘no rules,’ the exchange grew large enough that there are “kind of rules now.” Still, it is considered to be an informal podfic exchange. It is led by senior mod bessyboo through Twitter. 2018 appears to be the first year their entries included K-Pop podfic. 3 such podfics were gifted this year.


2019

The 2019 iteration of #ITPE. Only 2 K-Pop podfics were posted this year.


2020

Screenshots showing the increase in K-Pop Podfic after Voiceteam's Mystery Box 2020 events.
Two screenshots, taken by AO3 user averytree on 12/25/2020 and 1/10/2021 showing a 50% increase in the number of K-Pop Podfic from before the events..

A Big Bang event for the K-Pop group NCT that allowed podfic.

Voiceteam Mystery Box is Discord-based team challenges for the podfic community. Teams earned points for making different voice-based or voice-adjacent creations. Each day for the challenge-announcing period, teams received two point-earning challenges and then were set loose to strategize, create, and have fun!

The 2020 iteration of #ITPE. This year knight_tracer was elevated to status as senior mod along with Bessyboo. 18 K-pop podfics were contributed this year, a significant increase from the previous two years.


These last two events, Voiceteam Mystery Box 2020: Team K-Pop and ITPE2020 Team K-Pop were both headed by Voiceteam Mysterybox, and contributed significantly to the number of K-Pop Podfics on AO3. According to screenshots taken before and after the events by averytree, the amount of K-Pop Podfic on AO3 increased from 140 on 12/25/2020 to 210 on 1/10/2021. An increase of exactly 50% from these two events alone!



Speculation on Podfic Popularity

The amount of podfic in the K-Pop fandom is unusually low. According to this spreadsheet from 2020, the rate of podfic in the K-Pop community is 0.06%, much lower than the 0.17% for One Direction, or the 1.23% for Bandom overall. In 2021, Behind the Pod hosted two episodes with discussions on why K-Pop podfic might be less popular than in other fandoms of comparable size, Season 3 Episode 1 and Season 3 Episode 3.

There are a few theories for why this might be the case, and potentially multiple stacking factors for the disparity.

RPF is “Embarrassing”

Some people might find Real Person Fic (RPF) to be more embarrassing [4] or taboo [5] than typical fandom fic. Some have even argued that it might be unethical. [6] Committing your voice to a podfic, rather than just potentially anonymous writing, is somewhat more intimate of an act of fannish creation. Thus, people might be more hesitant to create podfic for an RPF fandom like K-Pop, for fear of being attacked or judged.

Pronunciation Difficulties

In a Fandom where there isn’t even always agreement on how to pronounce the groups’ names [7] it’s more than possible that there might be difficulty in pronouncing typically Korean names in a fandom where English is often the first language - and Korean probably isn’t a language most fans speak at all. It’s possible that fans are less likely to create podfic if they are nervous about incorrectly pronouncing people’s names, or being judged for not being able to accent the names “well enough.”

This is somewhat supported by the overall lack of podfic in non-English-language-based fandoms overall. According to the spreadsheet linked above, the rate of podfic in the most popular anime fandoms, which might have a large number of non-English names and words in it, is about half the rate of the biggest fandoms that are English-Language based, like Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Sherlock.

Voice-Based Fandoms

It’s possible that in a fandom like K-Pop, where a large part of the appeal is related voices, that podfic, which would be read in someone else’s voice, might take people out of the immersion of the fic, or might otherwise be less appealing than it would be in other fandoms. This is somewhat supported by the fact the K-Pop, One Direction, and the top Musical fandoms all have very low Podfic rates, and that Sports RPF has a much higher podfic rate than Actor RPF or Music RPF. However, this theory is contradicted by Bandom as a whole having a fairly high rate of podfic.

Statistics

The low rate of podfic in any fandom (typical <1% for the biggest fandoms, with only a few outliers) means a lot of the variety in rates between fandoms might not be statistically significant. In a small enough fandom, it would only take a few dedicated fans to make a handful of podfics to raise the ratio of podfic to written fic in a fandom. This might be why the overall “Bandom” ratio of podfics is so much higher than the biggest two components of Bandom (One Direction and K-Pop) - a few fandoms with a larger than average number of podficcers are pulling up the average with only a few podfics. This may mean that for most fandoms, the rate of podfic overall is more a function of chance than of anything inherent about the fandom.

Fun Facts

  • Aside from various pod-related tags, like pod length or pod format, the two biggest “additional tags” for K-Pop podfic are Fluff followed by Angst. However, Smut is not the third biggest tag like it is in the general K-Pop fandom. (As of October 2021)
  • M/M tagged podfics make up about 80% of all K-Pop podfic, a similar ratio as to “K-Pop” fic overall. However, the second most common category for podfic is Gen then F/F, whereas K-Pop overall has M/F, F/F, and THEN Gen for their biggest categories. (As of October 2021)
  • Of the 298 K-Pop fanworks tagged as "Podfic" on AO3 in December 2021, almost all (273, or 92%) are tagged with their approximate length. In general, there are fewer longer podfics than shorter, but this is not always true for each bracket. Of these (excluding those that are double tagged):
    • 61 (22%) are tagged 0-10 Minutes
    • 61 (22%) are tagged 10-20 Minutes
    • 38 (14%) are tagged 20-30 Minutes
    • 31 (11%) are tagged 30-45 Minutes
    • 20 (7%)are tagged 45-60 Minutes
    • 21 (7%) are tagged 1-1.5 Hours
    • 6 are tagged 1.5-2 Hours
    • 10 (4%) are tagged 2-2.5 Hours
    • 5 are tagged 2.5-3 hours
    • 5 are tagged 3-3.5 hours
    • 0 are tagged 4-4.5 Hours
    • 2 are tagged 4.5-5 Hours
    • 1 is tagged 5-6 Hours
    • 4 are tagged 6-7 Hours
    • 4 are tagged 7-10 Hours
    • 1 is tagged 10-15 Hours
    • 1 is tagged 15-20 Hours
    • 2 are tagged Over 20 Hours
      • Of these two, 1 is incomplete, with about 4 hours posted
  • This totals to at least 262 total hours of tagged K-Pop podfic, as of December 14, 2021, although notably at least one 13+ hour podfic (Beta Tau Sigma, discussed above) is not tagged and thus is not included in this count.
  • By this count, 77% of K-Pop podfic is below 1 hour in length, and less than 5% percent is above 5 hours

Notes

  1. ^ K-Pop Fanfiction Tagged “Podfic”. Accessed October 10, 2021.
  2. ^ K-Pop Fanfiction Tagged “Podfic” Sorted by Publish Date, showing “Balance” is the first posted podfic. Accessed October 10, 2021.
  3. ^ [https://archiveofourown.org/works?utf8=%E2%9C%93&commit=Sort+and+Filter&work_search%5Bsort_column%5D=bookmarks_count&include_work_search%5Bfreeform_ids%5D%5B%5D=70308&work_search%5Bother_tag_names%5D=&work_search%5Bexcluded_tag_names%5D=&work_search%5Bcrossover%5D=&work_search%5Bcomplete%5D=&work_search%5Bwords_from%5D=&work_search%5Bwords_to%5D=10000&work_search%5Bdate_from%5D=&work_search%5Bdate_to%5D=&work_search%5Bquery%5D=&work_search%5Blanguage_id%5D=&tag_id=K-pop BTS Podfic sorted by Bookmarks]. Accessed October 10, 2021.
  4. ^ Are people embarrassed to admit the read RPF? post on Reddit by u/PressureAwkward. Posted September 21, 2021. Accessed September 28, 2021.
  5. ^ Is Real People FanFiction OK or Bad? by Kara Skinned on Real Rundown. Posted August 1, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2021.
  6. ^ Real body, fake person: Recontextualizing celebrity bodies in fandom and film by Melanie Piper. Posted 2015. Accessed September 28, 2021.
  7. ^ These Are The Most Confusing K-Pop Group Names to Pronounce by Robyn Joan on KPopStarz. Posted May 17, 2021. Accessed September 28, 2021.