Fans in Korean pop culture
Registering in the official fan club of a K-pop idol and/or artist would give you the “title” of said fan club. (see fan club names below) People who like an idol or artists but aren’t in the fan club don’t call themselves as the names of the fan clubs.
Being in a fan club means the fan will do various activities (hence a fan club), and one of those is cheering for the artist or idol in events, TV performances and concerts.
Fan chants are an organized way of screaming in song. The structure of pop songs allows the incorporation of organized screams – however, fan chants don’t formally exist in fan cultures that aren’t Korean or Japanese (as far as we know), so the biggest reason for fan chants to exist is the fan culture itself.
In Japanese fan culture, idols (in the idol industry of today) exist since about 1970. In that first generation of idols, there were already organized fan chants. You can watch clips that feature Candies (for example), a well-known idol group back then. They already had fan chants (called “ouendan” or “cheering party”), performed by “shin’eitai” (literally, “ardent fans”). Such movement was later revived and changed into wotagei (“art of wota”), which is performed by wota (dedicated idol fans). Ouendan is basically cheering, and wotagei includes energetic movements along with cheering.
In Korean fan culture, idols start appearing in the middle to late eighties. But the earliest 응원법 (eungwonbeob, “fan chants”) we can hear are from around 2000, all done for the first generation of K-pop idol groups (H.O.T., S.E.S., Shinhwa, Fin.K.L., etc). Since then, basically every idol or idol group has their set of fan chants.
That is, of course, a very short explanation of these fan cultures.
Fan chants often include the name of idols, name of fanclub, and other phrases. More than often, these phrases appear to be things that the fans would like to say to the idol(s), like 사랑해 (saranghae, “I/We love you”), 영원히 함께해 (yeongwonhi hamkkehae, “let’s be together forever”). We don’t know who usually creates the fan chants, but they’re more than likely created by the fans themselves (specific fans). Sometimes they’re first published in an official page (ie. not a fansite) or fan cafes, which are sites where fans gather and discuss about the artist. When fans gather for a music show, they usually distribute sheets with the fan chants to other fans of the same group or soloist.
It’s common that the loudest fan chants are heard in debut, comeback or goodbye performances. A regular comeback stage includes a performance of a title song (that isn’t the debut one) and perhaps another song (usually a short version of it). A goodbye performance is the last one in the period of promotion of a song. Depending on the size of the fan club and the fans themselves, some fan chants can be heard in all the performances of a song, in various performances, or just in one performance (like I said, usually the debut, comeback or goodbye stages). Music shows may sometimes decrease, increase or change the audio when broadcasting a performance. Fancams (a common part of the Korean pop fan culture, but not the Japanese one) are recorded in an event or performance with lots of fans, and will sometimes also allow you to properly hear a fan chant.
See these threads for an extensive list of Korean fan clubs and their respective colours, ballons and related items:
We’ve tried to colour the fan chants according to these lists. Eventually there will be repeated colours, but we’ll usually avoid doing that. For fan clubs that don’t have a colour (yet), we’ve given them a random colour, perhaps related to the name of the group or soloist (like orange with Orange Caramel).
Format for fan chants used in this blog
(cheer cheer cheer) : the word or words in the parentheses aren’t originally in the song
(cheer cheer cheer) : the word or words in the parentheses are in the song, but they don’t sound loudly.
cheer cheer cheer : the word or words are in the song, they’re regular lyrics.
(cheer. cheer. cheer) : the dots mean usually a half or one second between each word
(cheer.ing. is. fun) : it doesn’t mean that there’s less seconds between “ring” and “is” and “is” and “fun”. The separation between each syllabe is the same.
(cheer! ing! is! fun!) : the exclamation mark denotes a longer time between syllables.
(che~er) : the word is elongated.
lyrics (cheer) : means that you say the cheer at the same time those specific lyrics are sung while staying in the beat of the song.
lyrics : same as above lyrics (same as lyrics – cheer) : this means the lyrics have become a cheer, but with small changes. In most of the cases, a name of the idol takes place instead of a word of the lyrics.
Ex. Crayon Pop’s ‘Uh-ee!‘ & Twice’s ‘1 to 10‘
*clapping (to the beat)* : should be obvious enough. That is not a fan chant but the action of clapping along.
-screaming- : on some patterns, (random) screams are indicated on specific parts of the song. We will denote them this way.
Sometimes fans would use support items alongside fan chants. A well-known item is the pair of pink/purple gloves that Kara fans used for ‘Pretty Girl’ performances, specifically during some of the ‘ye ye ye’ parts. Korean media found this hilarious and even zoomed onto the fans doing the ‘ye ye ye’ arms movements.
About learning fan chants
To pronounce the names, please refer to introduction videos, or any video where the artists or idols’ names are mentioned somewhere. There, you can hear how they themselves pronounce their names.
The romanization used in this blog is usually the standard revised romanization of Korean, hence some names are written differently. Regardless, the pronunciation remains the same. For further detail about this romanization method, feel free to read:
If you’re lucky and the fan chants you’re looking for can be heard clearly in a video, then you’ll be able to hear the pronunciation of the names and Korean words in the fan chants. If they’re not clearly heard, then search for any site that provides romanization of hangul, or better, one where that provides audio aid of pronunciations – even Google Translate has this tool. Since we’re talking about lots of people screaming names at the same time, if everyone is using the same pronunciation, the chanting will sound more uniform. On the other hand, if a group of fans is using one pronunciation and another, another one, then the chant will sound like two or more groups of people saying different things.
Besides the pronunciation, what’s most important when learning a fan chant is following the rhythm of the song. Fan chants pretty much always fit the sound of the songs. If you’re already familiar with a song, it will be much easier to learn its respective fan chant.
The blog is meant to be an archive of K-pop fan chants. The more fan chants, the better. I really like the sound of many of them, and why not share.