“Make It Right”: Why #BlackLivesMatter(s) to K-pop, BTS, and BTS ARMYs


  • Wonseok Lee Ohio State University
  • Grace Kao Yale University


Korean popular music, K-pop, Black Lives Matter movement, BTS, ARMY, K-pop fandom


K-pop (Korean Pop Music) fans and artists have become visible political actors in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement in the US in 2020. We investigate why K-pop fans and musicians mobilized to support BLM and, more generally, minority rights in the US by focusing on BTS fans, known as ARMY. We argue that the relationship between K-pop fans and artists is not unilateral, but mutual. Diverse voices and power differentials among K-pop fans exist, but were unified during this time. For example, the Black ARMY not only reminded other fans of racism within the fandom, but also asked BTS and their fellow ARMYs to support BLM. By considering K-pop as a battlefield of consent and resistance, we examine how K-pop and its fandoms has the potential for affecting local and national politics outside of South Korea.

Author Biographies

Wonseok Lee, Ohio State University

PhD student in the School of Music

Grace Kao, Yale University

IBM Professor of Sociology and Professor of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration (Secondary); Chair, Department of Sociology; Faculty Director; Education Studies; Director, CERSI



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