In yet another sign of just how upside-down 2020 has been, K-pop fans are now working hard to ensure their favorite groups don’t trend on Twitter. In light of recent events, several K-pop fandoms have put a temporary halt on their regular activities out of respect for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This includes fans of popular groups such as Blackpink, BTS, NCT 127, and Stray Kids.
On May 25, 48-year-old George Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after police handcuffed him and knelt on his neck for several minutes. According to widely-circulated video footage of the incident, police officer Derek Chauvin continued to pin Floyd to the ground even as he repeatedly protested he couldn’t breathe. Surveillance footage of some of the events preceding the incident failed to support police claims that Floyd was resisting arrest.
Floyd’s death quickly led to widespread protests and the resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on Twitter. Characterised by his brother as a “gentle giant,” Floyd is only the latest black person to die needlessly at the hands of law enforcement. Even the phrase “I can’t breathe” isn’t new, having also been the dying words of 43-year-old Eric Garner as he was choked by a New York police officer in 2014.
In support of #BlackLivesMatter, many K-pop fans are temporarily refraining from trying to make phrases and hashtags related to their favorite groups trend on Twitter. This is typically a regular activity amongst K-pop fans, who are well-known for their abundant passion. Coordinated efforts to promote groups, stream their music, and make them trend on social media are common, particularly when new content is released.
However, in a moment of cross-fandom unity, fans of multiple K-pop groups have decided there are more important hashtags that should be trending right now.
BTS fans, or “Armys,” took to censoring the names of group members to prevent them from trending, particularly when lead rapper Min Yoon-gi (also known by his stage names Suga and Agust D) started a livestream on May 28.
I’ve been informed that if ever bighit drop something tonight, please let’s not trend any hashtags to show respect and consideration to the current situation right now.
Thank you and please kindly spread.
— BTSChartDaily⁷ (@BTSChartDaily) May 28, 2020
Blackpink and Lady Gaga’s “Sour Candy” did trend on U.S. Twitter upon its May 28 release. However, many Blackpink fans — known as “Blinks” — agreed that now is not the right time for fans to promote the collaboration. Usually a K-pop group releasing a new song would be cause for their fans to frantically spam their hashtags, but thousands of Blinks refrained from doing so.
To all BLINKs and BP fanbases! Please stop using the tagline so we can all show our respects for George Floyd. Instead let’s put our energy into fighting for justice, signing petitions, and spreading awareness. I hope everyone understands, please and thank you. #BlackLivesMatter
— BLACKPINK AMERICA 🍬 (@BPinAmerica) May 28, 2020
Fans of NCT 127 also had particular reason to trend their tags. On May 28, the boy group’s new song “Punch” achieved its first win on K-pop chart show M Countdown, beating out “Can’t You See Me?” by TXT. Even so, many of NCT 127’s fans, known as “NCTzens,” asked each other not to distract from the protests.
if nct 127 win on mcountdown today, please let’s not try to trend any hashtag worldwide in a time like this. let’s show our respect instead and use our platform to spread awareness of this situation.
— 竜ryu (@nct_127) May 28, 2020
Further, K-pop group Stray Kids is expected to release new promotional content soon, having just announced the date of their first full-length album GO生 on May 28. Despite their excitement, some fans, or “Stays,” have committed to not making their hashtags trend right now.
Dear Stays, if Stray Kids drop anything tonight please don’t trend any hastag. Let’s show our respect. Let’s use this platform to spread awareness of the situation.
Please copy and spread.
— #GO生 𝒂𝒈𝒏𝒆𝒔°•𝒌𝒌𝒂𝒎𝒊 (@HYUNJINMUNGIL) May 28, 2020
To my beloved fellow STAYS,
I’ve been informed that if ever Stray Kids drop something tonight, please let’s not trend any hashtags to show respect and consideration to the current situation right now.
Thank you and please kindly spread.
— niah || 꿀리노🍯GO生 (@HONEYLIN0) May 28, 2020
Considering how heated K-pop fandom wars can get, it’s nice to see they can put aside their differences and come together to support something much more important. They’re still working hard to ensure the phrases they want appear in Twitter’s trends, but the hashtags are just a bit different this time.