In a fandom-centric world like the K-Pop one idols and fans share an unparalleled bond. Sadly, this connection is often taken advantage of. The most recent controversy that has angered Korean netizens is just another example. One of the major music award ceremonies is in the spotlight — but for all the wrong reasons.
The Fact Music Awards, an eminent ceremony established in 2019, has been making waves across the Korean entertainment industry since its inception. Known for recognizing major contributors to the Hallyu wave, the awarding body has always gained massive attention for its grand events and commendable winners selection process, which involves a blend of Circle Chart data, judging panels, and fan participation.
However, this year’s anticipated event scheduled for October 10 — featuring a star-studded lineup like aespa, IVE, NewJeans, ATEEZ, ITZY, TREASURE, NMIXX, ZEROBASEONE, etc. — has found itself surrounded by controversy. The root of the issue? A new and highly divisive idea: having fans pay to decorate the idols’ waiting rooms.
As per their official Twitter announcement, fans can contribute to adorning their favorite idols’ rooms by purchasing in-app currency named “Rainbow Stars.” These stars, which can also be obtained by watching ads, can then be used to buy three types of decorations for the waiting rooms, namely: Coffee + Snacks, Flowers + Photo Cakes, or Banner + Party Supplies, each with its respective price in stars.
The pricing model for purchasing Rainbow Stars is as follows:
100 stars = ₩1,000 KRW (about $0.76 USD)
1,000 stars = ₩10,000 KRW (about $7.58 USD)
5,000 stars = ₩50,000 KRW (about $37.90 USD)
10,000 stars = ₩100,000 KRW (about $75.80 USD)
As soon as the news broke out, it didn’t take long for Korean netizens to voice their strong disapproval. A post on the popular Korean forum, TheQoo, garnered more than 35,000 views and a staggering 500+ comments within an hour of its posting. Many fans labelled the move as exploitative, expressing their disappointment in the award ceremony for seemingly monetizing fans’ love and support for their favorite artists.
Some even went as far as to accuse the organizers of being “scammers” and “stealing money.”
While the music awards ceremony had presumably hoped that this initiative would be seen as an exciting and engaging opportunity for fans, it seems to have backfired dramatically. The sentiment across many social media platforms echoes the same outrage, raising questions about the ethics of monetizing fans’ support in such a manner.
As the controversy continues to swell, many are now eager to see how The Fact Music Awards will address this backlash. Will they stick with their original plan, or pivot in response to fan concerns? Only time will tell.