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13 - Idol Shipping Culture

Exploring Queer Sexuality among Fans of K-Pop

from Part VI - Circuits of K-Pop Flow

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2023

Suk-Young Kim
Affiliation:
University of California, Los Angeles
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Summary

The practice of imagining idols within romantic and sexual relationships, known as “shipping,” is central to the global fandom of K-pop, allowing fans to develop affective relationships with celebrities through practices such as writing fan fiction. In particular, shipping that reimagines boy groups such as BTS within romantic or homoerotic relationships is especially common as a method of articulating fandom and exploring sexual agency, thus producing spaces within Korea’s patriarchal society where women’s sexual desires can be safely explored. International aspects of BTS shipping, particularly within Japanese and Anglophone fandom spaces (in Australian and the Philippines), is then analyzed. While BTS shipping in Japan tends to conceptualize homoerotic relationships between men via sexual practices and behaviors divorced from identity, Anglophone shipping tends to instead overtly deploy LGBTQ identity politics. Nevertheless, both practices possess queer potentials that allow fans to affectively explore their sexuality. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of shipping in affirming the presence of queer fans within global K-pop culture.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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References

Recommended Reading

Kwon, Jungmin. Straight Korean Female Fans and Their Gay Fantasies. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2019 .Google Scholar

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