Recently, the Twitterverse has been rife with different fan groups fighting about who created and popularized the infamous “ending fairy” term and concept. With the help of Korean sources and timelines, we’re here to dispel any further argument.
1. What it means now
Right now, the term “ending fairy” is often used to refer to the idol featured in the few seconds of close-up used to close out a music show performance. It can also be used to refer to the concept of this valuable camera time.
As it is precious solo time for an idol, it has become an important concept to many. Some companies even train their idols on coming up with the best poses or visuals during this time. During My Teenage Girl, the contestants were told to prepare their “ending fairy” poses and time.
2. What it meant back then and how it started
Back in 2013, EXO-Ls coined the term to refer to EXO’s Xiumin. This was when the ending shot for songs on music shows did not feature up-close shots. Instead, a wide angle of the full group was used to close each song.
“Endings” were used to refer to the prize giving ceremony before the end of the entire show, and not the end of each song. Here, EXO’s Xiumin made an impression on fans with his adorable reactions while the hosts were speaking, hence the nickname, “ending fairy.”
This video dated 2013 has the title “130609 Inkigayo ending fairy Xiumin.”
3. Who changed the meaning of “ending fairy”
As time went by, the meaning of the name changed. Iconically, I.O.I’s Jung Chaeyeon went viral after a performance of “Into The New World” on Produce 101. After the song ended, as the cameras panned to the girls, Jung Chaeyeon received a close-up shot of her heavily breathing. This shot was aired during the actual broadcast of Produce 101, although it was only included in her individual fancam on YouTube reruns later.
Many online communities began calling her the “ending fairy,” referring to this particular moment in ending the song.
4. How it gained traction
Jung Chaeyeon was widely known as the originator of the ending fairy at this time in 2016 and 2017. She was so famous that they asked her to reenact the pose wherever she went. SNL Korea even made her recreate it too.
Many other girl group members began to copy the ending fairy pose. At this stage, the only ending fairy pose that was recognized at this point was one where the idol breathes heavily. This is embodied in the Japanese version of Produce 101, where every single “ending fairy pose” was the one and the same, where everyone started breathing heavily. As much as the source comes from Japan, it only serves to emphasise that the only acknowledged pose up to this time was the “breathing heavily” one.
5. Changing up the ending fairy variations
Music shows began adopting a close-up shot to end each stage rather than a group shot. As such, idols began to create new variations for the ending fairy poses. After all, they can’t just keep using the “breathing heavily” default! SHINee’s Key started using it to showcase notes.
6. Did BTS really start it?
A video of BTS claiming to have started the trend went viral on Twitter. The clip originated from an interview with Spotify. Around the 2.50 mark in the video below, they start talking about the ending fairy pose.
An accurate translation of the clip would be as follows.
When we did it, the concept of ending fairy, it wasn’t a proper thing back then. I still remember when we did it, it was during “Boy With Luv” and “Dionysus.” We were basically the origin of it. That was when it became a thing. We did it during “ON” too.
— Suga, Jungkook, and Jin
Suga meant that although it might have existed, it wasn’t a fully-fledged concept and important K-Pop cornerstone as it is today. Jungkook then chimed in, claiming that they were the originators, and had started it. Checking the timelines, “Boy With Luv” and “Dionysus” were released in 2019, while “ON” was released in 2020.
However, it existed in 2018 during Produce 48 even. Mnet even used it as a promotional tool for each of the girls during the concept evaluations. Each video in the following was titled as “Produce 48 Concept Evaluation Ending Fairy.”
To conclude, while BTS may have pushed the term to more mainstream popularity, the term and concept strictly already existed even before they began to do it. Logically speaking, when music shows shifted to a format where each performance ends with close-up shots rather than a group shot, the producers tell the idols in advance as to which member would be the “ending fairy” of the day. It was probable that BTS were also informed of the direction by the staff before recording their performance. We have to give credit to both EXO-Ls for coming up with the term, and to Jung Chaeyeon for being the first recognized “ending fairy” with the close-up concept.