What Do K-Pop Companies Think About Fan Truck Protests? Label Representative Shares Their Take

Labels have been swarmed with waves of protest trucks lately.

The practice of using protest trucks to voice fan concerns has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon within the K-Pop industry — and it has been the subject of much discussion. Originating in 2020 during the pandemic when in-person protests were infeasible, this practice quickly gained momentum and even transcended the music scene, reaching the realms of sports and gaming.

Red Velvet fans sent trucks to SM Entertainment earlier this month. | TheQoo

Fans initially used these moving billboards to criticize the lack of support for artists from their agencies. Yet, as the popularity of truck protests surged, so did the range of issues raised, now encompassing a plethora of topics from makeup and choreography to fan meetings, venue selection, and personal schedule management.

Behind the rise of these protests is the cultural shift towards a “nurturing fandom” according to Yonhap News. Today’s fans have transformed their role from passive observers to active participants in their favorite idols’ growth, often engaging as if they are “producers” rather than just fans. This is a shift from the traditional distance maintained in the first generation fandoms.

LE SSERAFIM’s Sakura fans sent trucks to Source Music. | TheQoo

But what do entertainment companies think about these luminous demands parked at their doorstep?

NCT’s Ten fans sent trucks to SM Entertainment. | TheQoo

One representative from a large management company shared their stance on protest trucks. While admitting that companies see protest trucks as a sign of “fan interest,” they state that it’s unfeasible for them to tend to all of their requests.

 While we believe the trucks to be fan interest toward the groups, we cannot realistically tend to all the requests.

— Company Representative

ITZY’s Yeji fans sent trucks to JYP Entertainment. | TheQoo

They further elaborated that companies have long-term goals and roadmaps, and addressing requests based on short-term perspectives can be challenging.

More often than not, companies have long term goals and roadmaps in place. The requests coming in after seeing only a small, short part of that plan can become difficult for us.

— Company Representative

Yet, not all industry insiders hold the same view. Pop culture critic Jung Deok Hyun sees this partnership with the fans as an evolution in the K-Pop industry. Jung claims that idol group producers now have to collaborate with fans as they are no longer “the only ones who have a say in how things get done.

He added that managers are willing to put up with these protests because they are considered a sign of fandom growth.

From the management’s point of view, it can get inconvenient to get the fans too involved but they do it anyway because it often leads to fandom growth.

— Jung Deok Hyun

In the end, it seems like protest trucks are a fine balancing act between acknowledging fans’ concerns and maintaining the strategic integrity of a group’s long-term plans for K-Pop labels. As fans continue to embrace their role as “nurturing” contributors to their idols’ careers, it will be interesting to see how companies navigate this increasingly complex dynamic.

Source: Yonhap News