Why do we all find it so easy to believe that someone pooped at a K-pop award show?

Why do we all find it so easy to believe that someone pooped at a K-pop award show?
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"tf was going on at the hanteo music awards? i’ve heard like 5 different stories, somebody shat themself? a fight broke out? people were dehydrated and pushing each other? like wtf was going???"

So questioned an X (formerly Twitter*) user following absolutely wild reports coming out of South Korea about the 2024 Hanteo Music Awards held in Seoul on Feb 17 and 18th. The user embedded a video, now with over a million views, of a variety of K-pop stars, with a focus on aespa and Ateez members, reacting to a variety of situations in the crowd, and trying to get security to handle things.

It was so bad that during their award speech, Ateez members asked the crowd to essentially calm the f**k down.

The facts of the whole ordeal are a bit blurry. But it does appear at least that there was at least a fight that broke out between Zerobaseone fans, allegedly due to someone calling for Kim Ji Woong's withdrawal after he was seemingly heard cursing at a fan after a fan call, though that's been contested.

"We all believe these things happened because going to a concert nowadays is a mixed bag depending on if other concertgoers behave or not."

But the biggest talking point around it all was, unsurprisingly, that someone took a dump at the barricade. A person alleging to be the pooper shared an apology letter later, offering to pay laundry fees if their bodily waste got on anyone else's clothes. They later denied it, saying it was a hoax.

There were, of course, awards and performances going on, but at the end of it all the 2024 Hanteo Awards are going to be remembered as a literal shitshow.

There's even a Know Your Meme page dedicated to it.

But here's the thing... I don't know if we really know this is true, or even that the fighting was true. Or that a used condom was found. What if all these allegations didn’t really happen?

I tried to do some digging to see if any Korean news sources had confirmed the incidents, but didn't see anything from the venue or anyone official, just the alleged fan apologizing.

But we all believe that these things could have happened, and probably likely happened, because, well, going to a concert nowadays is a mixed bag depending on if other concertgoers behave or not.

Seriously, this event was the very least chaotic if not downright hellish. But I think it's kind of fascinating that concert norms have degraded so much that a biohazard occurring is memed immediately rather than met with intense outrage resulting in concert organizers addressing it. It's just another day of crazy concertgoers, huh?

What we do know is that fans have been acting incredibly out of control at concerts lately, so it's not super surprising that there were at the very least dangerous crowd conditions.

This event is particularly curious to me regardless of whether any or all of the alleged incidents actually occurred: it's more that concertgoing has become such an absurdist experience lately that we all find it so easy to believe that these things occurred.

Kudos to Hongjoong and the rest of ATEEZ

We know that fans have been acting a bit much at concerts forever: crowd crushes leading to death are uncommon, but have occurred around the world at various concerts. At the very least, pushing at concerts is now so normalized that there are many guides to surviving crowd crushes at concerts.

These are all relative regular, but since the concert industry revived itself following shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, things have gotten out of control. I've been hearing of incidents for a while that made me shocked, but it was over the summer when there was a whole slate of artists getting things thrown at them that a lot of people started really paying attention.

Things have gotten so bad that artists and fans have even taken it upon themselves to teach others online about concert going etiquette.

Hygiene, when fans wait overnight, is a particular issue. KCON LA 2023 was particularly notorious among K-pop fans, to the point that when I was in a panel with NMIXX and they played a game with fans and saw what was in their bags, deodorant won a lot of cheers.

I feel like stereotypes of K-pop fans being on the particularly intense side of fan behavior makes it really easy to believe a series of interrelated activities: a) someone would keep their barricade spot over prioritizing bodily hygiene OR that the situation was so dire they couldn't get out in time to get to the bathroom and smelled up the venue b) that people were fighting so intensely that celebrities had to take security into their own hands c) that security and the venue coordinators was inept to enable this all to happen. Additionally, people found it really easy to believe that d) someone used a condom in some capacity, and that e) their favorite stars saw this all going down and the bad behavior still was occurring.

Pushing was the least of it, to be honest, and sadly the most normal, so at least that I'm sure was happening. But it feels like the Hanteo Awards are real lucky nothing worse than these rumored incidents occurred. It feels like I'm constantly thinking that every K-pop event that gets too chaotic is a near miss for catastrophe, and I'm really dreading the day that something terribly tragic occurs.

I feel like an old far saying this, but look... If you're going to a concert, I think it's important not to leave your humanity at the door. If you get caught up in a bad situation, seeing your favorite is not worth your life, and probably not even your dignity.

*Just a note that although I'm actively not using Xitter due to personal issues with Musk and his ownership, I recognize all the memes and conversations are still taking place there and I know I'm missing out on discourse so... Sadly, still reliant.

What I'm working on

Well, I went to Korea and got to witness Enhypen put their spin on BTS's "I Need U" as a Spotify Single. The song's iconic, and I've written about why it's so important to music history before. So it was really an honor and pleasure to talk with Enhypen about their version of INU at NME. It was a really short interview, and, unfortunately, not as in-depth as I wanted and that caused a bit of a misunderstanding, but hopefully we'll talk again soon in a more expansive platform.

A new series featuring creatives working within and around K-pop. The first interview was with producer Dem Jointz. Please comment or email me if you ever have someone you'd like to see highlighted!

I also started a daily news update thing over at Threads, so if you're on the platform, please follow and enjoy all my curation.

What I'm listening to

IU's The Winning dropped this morning, so I've had the album on repeat all day. Also very into P1Harmony's Killin' It album.