K-pop fans around the world unite for climate and environmental goals

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JAKARTA, INDONESIA — JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) —

Fans of Korean pop bands around the world are increasingly channeling their multi-million-strong online community into climate change and environmental activism, protesting business deals related to coal-fired power generation and calling on K-pop entertainers to reduce waste. and raise awareness of climate-related issues.

Because of their ability to quickly organize large, committed groups, K-pop fans are becoming increasingly influential online lobbies when joining protests or promoting causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement. It has become. Politicians are also trying to take advantage of that power.

“I realized how K-pop fans are viewed as a potential force,” Salifah said. “We think we can harness that power to fight climate change.”

In 2021, Korea Beyond Coal, a coalition of citizens’ groups calling for South Korea to end coal-fired power generation, partnered with Kpop4Planet to raise awareness about coal-fired power plant plans.

The factory site near Maengbang Beach, the photo shoot location for K-pop band BTS’ hit album artwork, is a popular destination for the band’s fans, and a joint petition created by Kpop4Planet and Korea Beyond Coal has gathered thousands of signatures.

“We realized that Kpop4Planet has experience using social media to mobilize, connect and share information with people, which is very helpful when it comes to climate change campaigns.” said Euijin Kim, head of communications for the solution, which is part of the volatility measure. Korea beyond coal.

Although the power plant is still being worked on, Lee said the group was able to raise awareness about the environmental problems caused by coal-fired power.

“We want to show the power and influence that K-pop fans can have…If we come together, we can have a better social impact and perhaps be more sustainable.” I believe that we can change society through different methods,” Lee said. “And of course, please love K-Pop together.”

Korean pop culture fan club activities and philanthropy began in the 1960s, said Stephanie Choi, a postdoctoral researcher at the University at Buffalo who studies K-pop culture. Now, K-pop fans regularly organize in their thousands on social media platforms to buy gifts for wildly popular K-pop singers and bands, as well as promote other causes. Masu.

Mr. Salifah and Mr. Lee have developed Kpop4Planet’s efforts, starting with asking entertainment companies to reduce waste associated with K-pop fan culture, which collects photocards of band members that are included in albums and sold as merchandise. are linked to various purposes. K-Pop labels often release multiple versions of albums with dozens of different photocards, and encourage people to buy albums in bulk to enter raffles for meet-and-greet events with K-Pop stars. I encourage my fans.

“The problem is that this creates a lot of waste,” Lee said in an interview. “We wanted to tackle that issue first because it was the most well-known issue among K-pop fans.”

Although entertainment companies have not directly responded to Kpop4Planet’s petition or other approaches, Lee still sees the campaign as a success.

“After our campaign, there was a change. Major entertainment companies published environmental, social and governance reports, released records using QR codes to minimize waste, and more. We published an eco-friendly album,” she said.

Kpop4Planet’s petition against Hyundai was in protest of an agreement Hyundai signed to purchase aluminum from coal-fired power projects in Indonesia.

A memorandum of understanding signed in 2022 with a division of Adalo Energy Indonesia, one of Indonesia’s largest coal mining companies, gives Hyundai the right to buy low-carbon aluminum from an industrial park that Indonesian authorities describe as “environmentally friendly.” gave to.

However, the smelter that will initially be used to produce aluminum will be powered by a newly built coal-fired power plant. At a later date, hydroelectric and solar power will power the industrial park.

Considering the collaboration between K-Pop group BTS and Hyundai, Kpop4Planet saw an opportunity to make their impact. In March 2023, Kpop4Planet launched a petition calling on Hyundai to withdraw from the project until coal is phased out and to disclose details of the energy used to produce the aluminum. The petition gathered over 10,000 signatures in two months, and Kpop4Planet sent the petition to Hyundai Motor’s headquarters. Hyundai Motors announced in March that it had terminated its contract with Adaro.

“With the MOU expiring at the end of 2023, the two companies have decided not to renew the memorandum of understanding and to independently explore other opportunities,” a Hyundai spokesperson said in an email to The Associated Press. said.

Adaro did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

“This is a victory for the thousands of people who took action and showed they truly care about the climate crisis and their communities,” Salifa said.

___ Asian Entertainment Editor Joo-won Park in Seoul contributed to this report.

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Associated Press climate and environment reporting receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate change efforts. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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