Teasing the demise of K-pop's Twitter playground

This is the way the fun ends, not with a bang but 머스크새끼

There are wind ofs change blowing about in cyberspace nowadays. While small gusts have shifted the flow of conversation online over the past decade, for the first time in ages it feels like we’re seeing a true storm that will really devastate and reshape things: the demise of Twitter.

This, of course, is something that everyone is talking about amid the death knells that have been ringing since Elon Musk bought the site for an outrageously infuriating* $44 billion last October.

Others will be writing about this for ages, so I won’t bore about the technicalities but a quick overview in case you’re not as addicted to Twitter as your’s truly:

Over the weekend it became apparent that Twitter is limping along, barely existing. There’s been moments of this before, but when Musk declared that users who don’t pay will only be able to see 600 posts a day, and non-users won’t be able to see anything, it was a sizable death rattle. Tweets embedded and linked across the Internet stopped working properly.

I happened to be MIA during the peak of this mess as I don’t use electricity between Friday night and Saturday night in my observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Coming out of 25 hours of being able to ignore the Internet, I felt like I landed in a pre-apocalyptic state. For many of us frequent users of Twitter, this app has been reliable for over a decade, a place we come to chat with like minded folks, argue with those of the opposite ilk, and, most importantly, learn about the world around us in more or less realtime. Since Musk has taken over, things have been changing, and this was yet another huge wake up call.

For K-pop and K-pop fans, it’s also been one of the biggest hubs. A communal playground, stan Twitter has become infamous and awe-inspiring in recent years, shaping discourse and driving power and popularity shifts.

@Tamarwrites on Twitter: Very curious about what's going to happen to kpop community building once Twitter's demise makes everyone really be unable to do anything functional on this site

Not only an information hub, with K-pop acts constantly sharing information and pictures, it’s a place for meeting  other fans and coordination, with fan organizing reaching immense heights. Whether it’s accounts that track charting of artists and raise funds to support their faves’ upcoming releases, or translation accounts, history trackers, or meme hubs, some of the most powerful K-pop fans are on Twitter.

They’re powerful, of course, because fans in general are there. Twitter is where K-pop fans gather, come together, chat. Other platforms obviously have followers, and heaven only knows Tiktok is powerful, but with Twitter’s end we will have to say farewell to stan Twitter as well. To say I have a love-hate relationship with K-pop stan Twitter would probably be an underestimate, but for every rough moment, the friends, ideas, conversations, and laughs made it all worth it.

When Twitter started charging for checkmarks, it was a whole experience and reminder of what it’s like operating in a wild west, where “official” meant little. Twitter ultimately did reissue some sort of official emblems, but in that moment, I think it was made very clear that the mode of information flow in K-pop communities would have to start changing, with top-down approaches from K-pop acts on Twitter not necessarily being viable anymore. News and meme comes from Twitter and often gets disseminated, usually via screenshots, to other apps.

Exhibit A and Exhibit B

Being a verified hag™️, meaning I’ve been engaging with K-pop fan communities since 2008, I remember when it was Facebook, not Twitter, where most fans got their fix. But I can’t remember when I last checked an official artist page on their Facebook about content. (Nowadays, Facebook is an important account to certain fan communities, mostly those in regions where Facebook is still prominent in comparison to the Anglosphere it’s more or less not part of modern pop culture convos.)

Tumblr also had its moment, especially for fan conversations rather than official communication, but it never had the same communal power as Stan Twitter ultimately did. Instagram was big for original sourcing content, but the way that fans talk on Twitter is just different than all these other apps.

screenshot of music video featuring the five members of Onwew playing their instruments and performing with water up to their shoulders, flooding about to drown.
Twitter currently feels a lot like this moment from Onewe’s “Rain To Be” music video, where the end is near but not quite yet there.

TikTok is obviously the most important social media app for K-pop, and pop culture in general, at the moment. But it, and Instagram and other popular already-functional apps, don’t serve the same function as Twitter, as a text-based space built for conversation; they’re built for single-sided positing in video or photo format. Reddit is also struggling at the moment, and it never quite feels as fluid as Twitter does for community building.

This is why, of course, every tech company under the sun and their mother’s seem to be launching an alternative copycat, including Substack and Meta.

Since Musk’s arrival at Twitter, I’ve launched accounts on Mastodon, Hive, and Bluesky. I like the latter the best so far. But to be honest, dearest gentle readers, I don’t really want to be on social media anymore for personal reasons but also know it’s hard to unplug, so I haven’t been putting in that much energy to any of these new platforms, and have taken up knitting instead of spending a lot of time there.**


Over the weekend massacre, or muskacre as I’ve been thinking of it, social media platforms have been seeing influxes of people wondering what’s next. Bluesky buckled temporarily and had to stop accepting incoming sign ups for a while, and Tumblr wittily included a “Coming from Twitter? Sign Up” button on its homepage.

And, of course, there’s Weverse, the Hybe-operated app for artists and fans to connect, and for the company to make a hefty profit through fanclubs, merchandise, and media purchases. But while it’s a great way to connect fans and artists –and I have to admit it’s worked really well; I was initially not really sure how it’d work but have been won over – there’s not the same sort of freewheeling of K-pop Twitter, or even most other social media platforms I’ve mentioned, as it’s currently segmented by artist community. I’d place money that Weverse may create some front-page communal space, but I don’t know how well it will work in comparison to Twitter, where one part of K-pop twitter’s importance was that it could be felt and seen by “muggles” AKA non-fans.

It’s been a wild few days, and while I don’t think Twitter really will just drop dead and fans won’t really leave it en masse, there is a shift happening, and I’m curious to see what comes out of it for the remnants of Stan Twitter, especially if the site truly does just stop working as people have been warning.

As I previously mentioned, I often find myself humming music while writing this newsletter. Everytime a new series of implosions hits Twitter, I keep humming a song from a rather infamous episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, fittingly titled, Where Do We Go From Here?

Wherever it is, I’ll see you all there!

Over the weekend, “Musk saeki,” or “Musk bastart,” trended in South Korea.

What I’ve been working on

I wrote up a blurb about Limelight’s Honestly for NME’s “The 15 best K-pop songs of 2023 – so far.” I really like how they’re releasing everything they do in acapella versions. They don’t really seem to be true acapella with the voice replacing instrumentation, but rather instrumental-removed versions and I’m still enjoying.

It’s been pretty quiet lately on the journalism front, to be honest, since the whole industry feels like it’s on fire at the moment. I’ve been TikToking minimally while trying to get some stories and job apps out, so follow me there if you’d like. Right now I’m reading, and maybe working on, some stuff about Fifty Fifty’s current legal fiasco. It really feels like 2023 is just existing amid K-pop contract disputes.

@tamartoks@Fifty Fifty Official are having a great year with #cupid, but now they’re in a contract dispute wirh their management company. #kpop #kpopnews #kpopcontract #fiftyfifty

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What I’m listening to

Kim Sungkyu (aka Sunggyu) of INFINITE is back with a new album, 2023 S/S Collection, and it’s great, his typical blend of electropop and synthrock. But as much as I do like the single Small Talk, I’m really sad he’s not promoting Sometimes as a single. The anxiety of the song propels it along like a humid summer night, and I just really hope one day to see him perform this live.

Choi Yena, my longtime favorite ever since her IZ*ONE days, is having a bit of a rough time due to her recent single Hate Rodrigo, due to its relationship with Olivia Rodrigo. While that song is really enjoyable, I find kitsch of the b-side Bad Hobby captures more of my attention on each listen among her new trio of songs.

What I’m watching

I’ve been bingeing, to the detriment of pretty much every other facet of my life, Flower of Evil. I’m a big fan of Lee Joongi, and it’s been quite a rollercoaster seeing him play out this story with Moon Chaewon, who I first was introduced to through Innocent Man. If you’re not familiar, both of those Kdramas are rather dark, and focus on emotional manipulation, but Innocent Man came out in 2012 and Flower of Evil came out in 2020. I’m honestly mad at myself that I barely registered Evil back then, but will blame the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when I was finding safehaven in comedy and romance rather than drama, but this show is so great I’m so happy a friend rec’d it to me.

On the big screen, I watched Elemental and the new Spiderverse movies. Both were excellent, and hit emotionally. I didn’t realize Elemental was a story about immigrant and intergenerational trauma but it really hit.

Gotta give a shout out to EXO’s Do Kyungsoo, because that man is a 1-man promo cycle for Elemental and I just think it’s really funny how he literally is talking about it almost as much, if not more, than the upcoming EXO comeback.

Screenshot of DO posting in Korean, translated, on Bubble. "Of course, I'm looking forward to the comeback... But [the] Elemental.."

*Infuriating because he could have spent that money to save lives or many other important things, but spent it in a way that has destroyed an important communication structure.

**I am brand new to knitting and looking for friends. Please send tips, tiktoks, and patterns to tamarhermanwrites@gmail.com.