Sasaeng

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Synonyms: Stalker, Fansite
See also: K-pop, Kdrama, Hallyu
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"Sasaeng" refers to an obsessive fan who stalks or engages in other behaviour constituting an invasion of the privacy of celebrities, specifically Korean idols, drama actors or other public figures.[1] In Korean, “sa” means private and “saeng” means life, in reference to fans’ all-encompassing obsessions with their preferred artists.[2]

Term Origins

The term sasaeng was coined in the 1990s with the rising popularity of early first generation K-pop groups such as H.O.T. and g.o.d.

Term Usage

The term rose in usage during the second generation of K-pop with groups such as TVXQ, Wonder Girls, Girls Generation, and Shinhwa.

The term rose again in popularity to expand in usage outside of South Korea and Asia during the COVID-19 pandemic where K-Pop Stan Twitter grew. Today, sasaengs are found across the world and the term is recognizable in all K-pop stan communities. However, the term is not officially registered in any language dictionary and is classified as internet slang.

Practices

Sasaengs are stalkers and papparazi. Many carry large cameras with expensive lenses to take photos and videos of K-pop idols at concerts, fansigns, and the airport to sell as fansites. They create unofficial products with the photos they take such as cup sleeves, keychains, posters, photocards, and postcards to sell but often buyers are scammed by fansites.

Sasaengs often collect private information about and contents from K-pop idols that can include:

  • Airport boarding information
  • Photos from private events
  • Photos from an idol's hacked phone
  • Bodily fluids (urine, feces, sweat)
  • Idol's clothes/performance pieces/accessories

Private information and contents are illegally collected for sasaengs to take photos and videos of idols and gain access to them. This private information is often collected through illegal means and connections. In South Korea, sasaengs are commonly organized in groups. In outside countries and especially in Los Angeles, California, sasaengs are organized in groups and often directed by other sasaengs from South Korea. Sasaeng culture is most common in South Korea, but fan stalking (especially in America) is a common practice in celebrity fandoms internationally. The two cultures differ, but share in the same goal to illegally obtain private information in an attempt to get closer to a celebrity.

Sasaengs smuggle in cameras and other equipment into events to take photos and videos illegally. Large professional grade cameras are usually banned from public events to prevent shootings and bombings because malicious equipment can be stored inside of them. Many sasaengs bypass these restrictions by tying lenses and cameras to their inner thighs to avoid security checks and pat downs. If they are pat down, they feign sexual harassment by security staff and racism (when outside of South Korea) to continue smuggling in equipment.

Sasaeng vs. Fansite

Sasaengs and fansites are intertwined together as fansites are the larger culture sasaengs exist under. Not all fansites are sasaengs, but many are connected together to gather information about events to take photos and videos at.

References