5 K-Pop Groups Who Survived The Infamous “Black Ocean”

Multiple popular groups have received “black oceans.”

Lightsticks are an integral part of a K-Pop performance, creating pretty “oceans” of light and letting fans cheer for their idols.

Fans always bring their lightsticks to concerts, music shows, and award shows to show their support. And usually, when other artists perform, fans will still keep their lightsticks lit as a way to give all the performers encouragement.

But while there are many instances of fans from different fandoms supporting artists, there are also infamous moments of the dreaded “black ocean.” The “black ocean” is an organized protest of an artist during their performance. The audience will turn off their lightsticks, leaving behind a “black ocean.”

Likely a reference to a “black ocean” in BTS’s “We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal” music video | BANGTANTV/YouTube

Here are five times K-Pop groups survived a “black ocean.”

1. Girls’ Generation

Girls’ Generation was one of the earliest groups to be subject to the “black ocean” at the 2008 Dream Concert. As one of the largest annual concerts in Korea, the Dream Concert always boasts a popular lineup of artists.

Although Girls’ Generation became one of K-Pop’s most iconic girl groups, when they debuted in 2007 the group faced backlash because of their association with some of SM Entertainment‘s male artists.

Girls’ Generation

Allegedly before the Dream Concert, there was even a physical altercation between Girls’ Generation fans and Super Junior fans, exacerbating the feud between the fandoms.

When Girls’ Generation took to the stage, fans of other artists turned off their lightsticks for the ten-minute duration of their performance. As if the “black ocean” wasn’t enough, fans of other artists allegedly chanted Wonder Girls‘ name to further hurt Girls’ Generation.

Of course, now Girls’ Generation is an iconic group with fans desperately waiting for their comeback. But their fame and success came at the cost of enduring many hardships.


SEVENTEEN were a rookie group when they performed at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards (also known as MAMA).

SEVENTEEN | @pledis_17/Twitter

At the time, SEVENTEEN hadn’t released a lightstick, and while some fans of other artists used their lightsticks to cheer for the rookie group, a large majority turned theirs off, creating another “black ocean.”

But despite all the hardships SEVENTEEN have faced during their careers, they have certainly become an incredibly successful group that is loved for their amazing music and stellar performances.

3. Lovelyz

Woolim Entertainment‘s first girl group, Lovelyz, endured many hardships over their time together. One of the eight members, Jisoo, couldn’t debut with Lovelyz due to controversy over malicious rumors being spread about her. Jisoo was officially added to Lovelyz’s lineup for their 2015 album, Lovelyz8.

Lovelyz | @Official_LVLZ/Twitter

But, in seeming response to Jisoo being added to the group despite the controversy, fans of Lovelyz gave a “black ocean” for their performance at the 2015 Pepsi concert. Allegedly, some Lovelyz’s fans even asked for cooperation from fans of other artists in creating the ominous “black ocean.”

Still, despite their rocky start, Lovelyz successfully promoted up until their recent disbandment in 2021. Even showing off their immense skills on Mnet‘s first series of Queendom.

4. T-ARA

Like Lovelyz, T-ARA had to face a “black ocean” orchestrated by their own fans. Allegedly former member Hwayoung was bullied by the other group members, and after the alleged proof went viral, Hwayoung left the group.


At the 2012 World Conservation Congress K-Pop Nature+ Concert, fans seemingly voiced their displeasure with Hwayoung leaving T-ARA by not only creating a “black ocean” but by allegedly chanting Hwayoung’s name instead of a traditional fan chant.

Proving that they’re capable of enduring any hardship, T-ARA even made a comeback in late 2021 after an indefinite hiatus.

5. BTS

Although BTS has become one of the most popular global music artists, they have had to endure two different “black oceans.”

BTS | @bts_bighit/Twitter

They first endured the infamous “black ocean” at the 2016 Golden Disk Awards. At the time, with BTS’s popularity increasing, the “black ocean” was allegedly started as a retaliatory fan war with fans of EXO, with both sides blaming the other.

The fan war continued at the 2016 Melon Music Awards, where BTS once again performed in front of a “black ocean” that was just illuminated by their fans’ lightsticks.

Fortunately, both groups have continued their incredibly successful careers and, with the sizes of their fanbases, will not have to face a “black ocean” again.

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