In the K-Pop world, the phrase deokjil is seen frequently as it means to be strongly immersed in a specific person or field. The word comes from the Japanese term “Otaku,” indicating someone is obsessed with something.
In addition, the development of platforms such as social media and the no-contact culture caused by COVID-19 have formed a new fan culture that enjoys fan activities alone and records fan activities through videos to be shared with others.
Recently, vlogs of idol fans have gained much popularity on YouTube. Various fandoms have begun to record one’s daily life through vlogs to share and connect with fans. This content includes concert vlogs, album unboxing, merchandise unboxing, places related to the members, birthday cafes, reviews of fan sign events, video calls, and more.
Many of these vlogs are seen by various viewers, with most of the comments from foreign fans. In this way, these vlogs serve as a medium to spread and inform Korean culture to overseas fans. So then, what is the reason for these vlogs, and why do they attract attention?
Kim Young Jae, a professor at Hanyang University’s Department of Cultural Contents, focused on the fact that most idol fans are from the “digital native” generation.
Digital natives who grew up with digital media value ‘sincerity’ as an integral part of digital connections. Vlogs that share simple and honest daily life have become more popular after COVID-19 as isolated people have strengthened their desire to communicate and share their daily lives. Among them, vlogs share the daily life of deokjil and communicate with others in the fandom. By strengthening communication needs, information needs and self-identity needs can be satisfied.
Professor Kim Hwan of Seoul Cyber University’s Department of Solo Broadcasting Creators stated, “In modern society, the spread of social media and YouTube has created an environment where individuals freely create and share content. Among them, interest in celebrities and fan culture is starting to be expressed through new forms such as deokjil vlogs. It has become popular because fans can directly express their passion and love for celebrities and form a census with other fans.”
These vlogs promote forming a community among fans by sharing their experiences and allowing them to feel a deeper sense of belonging. The popularity of these vlogs can also bring about economic effects, such as sales of related products or advertising revenue. It can also positively impact the spread of the Hallyu wave.
However, there are concerns that it may cause problems such as overindulgence to attract the attention of others, excessive consumption due to showing off within the community, and infringement on celebrities’ privacy.
Nevertheless, experts state that in the future, these types of vlogs will become an important axis of fandom culture.
Professor Kim Hwan also stated, “Deokjil vlogs will continue to evolve into various forms and styles, and vlogs in various languages targeting overseas fans are expected to appear. Even within that, there will always be a need to rethink relationships and responsibilities between fans, celebrities, and society as a whole.”