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The Growth and Decline of K-Pop Fan Cafes

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Before Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Instagram accounts were a necessity for K-Pop groups, there were and still are fan cafes.  Fan cafes are online communities where fans not only share photos and have discussion, but also become a united voice and identity in representing the fandom. You couldn't be considered a true fan unless you were a member in an official fan cafe. Even celebrities are often members of their own fan cafe to read what the fans were thinking, and their management works with the leaders of the fan cafe to organize fan events. 

However, with the rise in popularity for Facebook and other sites as easy and effective ways to reach a worldwide audience, agencies and fans alike are stepping away from the fan cafes. Especially with social networking sites, celebrities do not need to use a fan cafe bulletin board to communicate with their fans. More and more celebrities are opening up personal accounts to share their thoughts and photos directly to their fans, both in and out of Korea. Agencies are also using the Twitter or Facebook follower counts as a measure of their artist's worldwide popularity. 

This change is being reflected in the fan cafes themselves. Even the most famous idol groups are seeing a decline in fan club membership, although that doesn't necessarily translate to a decline in popularity. 

These graphs will show the difference in the number of members of the largest fan cafe for each artists. The numbers do fluctuate on a daily basis and have been rounded to the nearest thousand. Keep in mind that these numbers are for that one particular fan cafe and does not represent the number of members in all fan cafes. All these artists have several fan cafes. 



The graph shows the most popular idol groups that debuted before 2009, fondly known as Hallyu-dols. Comparing the number of members in their biggest fan cafes, all seven groups saw a decline in the numbers since May of 2013. 

Although TVXQ's largest fan cafe lost the most amount of members since 2013, they are still the largest by a great margin. No other K-Pop fan group can compare to the sheer numbers of TVXQ fan cafe members. In both years the cafe was still more than twice that of the second biggest fan cafe, BIGBANG

BEAST saw the least amount of change, with a mere 4,000 member difference between the two years. Older groups such as Super Junior, BIGBANG, and Girls Generation had a rather large drop of members, all of them losing more than 20,000 members. 

Trending-dols *updated image


We also have "Trending-dol," idol groups who debuted after 2009 and are considered to be trendy these days. These groups have gone up in their fan cafe numbers. EXO's fan cafe had the biggest growth since 2013, with an additional 122,000 new members. INFINITE has kept their strong numbers and remain the group with the most numbers on this list. IU is the only solo singer represented in this list, showing that her fandom is comparable to that of a group. VIXX has had an impressive growth in the past year; their numbers have more than tripled. 

Promising Groups


We also have the numbers for promising idol groups. These groups have modest but growing numbers, and should be an idol group to keep an eye on. BTOB, for example, saw an increase of 17,000 members, more than some of the idol groups in the "Trending-dol" graph.

Super Rookies


Then there are the super rookies. These three boy groups debuted after May 2013 but have competitive numbers. BTS and Winner have numbers close to each other, and close to groups that have been around longer. The brand new GOT7 is still small but not the smallest out of all the groups.

Source: 10Asia  (with updated 2014 numbers by CallMeN00NA)

Before you comment:

  • The original source chose what groups to represent and omitted several popular groups. 
  • The groups were ranked in the graphs by the highest number of members in 2014.

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