Drama on K-pop BNS Twitter isn’t new. Not unlike other markets, especially collectors markets, issues like overpricing and scams arise. But a “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” (KMJS) feature on a fangirl who is said to have stolen P2 million from her grandma for her K-pop merch collection has put the community under a national spotlight and in chaos.
To anyone wanting to steal from and judge K-pop fans because of a reportedly P50,000-worth photocard, think twice. It’s a terrible thing to do and it may not even be worth it. Literally. We’re once again left to rethink how we talk about women-dominated K-pop fandoms.
PAALALA: maging disente sa ating komento
Dalagita, nakuhang magnakaw ng mahigit 2 milyong piso para matustusan ang kanyang koleksyon ng K-Pop merch?!#KMJS pic.twitter.com/t9whvlgFLW
— KapusoMoJessicaSoho (@KM_Jessica_Soho) March 5, 2023
The viral KMJS episode featuring a teen fangirl who went by the alias Bea aired on Mar. 5. The story goes that Bea stole from the cash register of her grandmother’s plastic stall at a wet market to buy merch, which she hid in the back of her closet. As reported in the show, the priciest among her photocards are three NCT photocards bought at “P50,000 each.” Pictured on the show was a rare Jaehyun Special Yearbook Card, an edition with a metallic border and with only 500 copies printed. Fans are well aware this is a huge leap from the usual P100 to P400 range, with the higher tier for older or more coveted editions.
But a number of the show’s viewers weren’t, as seemingly evidenced by the slew of photocard theft and stolen K-pop merch package incidents that followed the airing. One merch seller even resorted to taking extra precautions such as putting labels like “Thou shall not steal,” “Utang ni Marisol,” and “Thank you my dear buyer for purchasing my ginisa mix powder” on packages.
A case of “irresponsible journalism”?
Fans in the K-pop BNS community claim that KMJS showed “irresponsible journalism” that put them “in danger” by not clarifying that not all photocards are exorbitantly priced and for painting fans as irresponsible “compulsive buyers,” and even “thieves.”
READ: Statement ng KMJS kaugnay ng kuwento ni "Bea" na nagnakaw ng milyon sa kanyang pamilya para suportahan ang kanyang K-Pop collection pic.twitter.com/2RrmqOnxYX
— KapusoMoJessicaSoho (@KM_Jessica_Soho) March 7, 2023
In response to criticism, KMJS wrote in a statement that they were working with officials from MRT-Cubao and local police stations to verify one of the reported incidents. It also condemned the “trolling and harassment” against their staff and that they’re consulting with their legal team for their next steps. They also clarified that they produced the episode to serve as a lesson and cautionary tale.
All this trouble for a story that K-pop fans doubt
In the days that followed the chaos, the hashtag #CANCELKPOPJAGIYAPH also popped up in tweets alleging that the story featured on “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” was manufactured by the anonymously featured family in order to sell the merch.
In the latter part of the episode, KMJS approached K-pop online store Kpop Annyeong PH to help live sell Bea’s collection in order to regain the losses from her grandmother’s business. The program also shared the link to the online store set up by Bea’s family called KPop Jagiya PH. “Nakikiusap ako sa mga fans ng K-pop, sana bago sila bumili sa mga dati nilang binibilhan, sana sa amin na para kahit papaano makatulong sa amin na mabawasan,” said Bea’s grandma.
“Hindi po kami related. Tinawagan lang po ako ng KMJS team para mag-help sa live selling… sa mga dati kong clients, alam niyo po na nag-li-live selling po ako ng mga posters and merch dati pa,” Kpop Annyeong PH said in a statement in response to the allegation. “’Yung story na napanood niyo is ’yun lang din po ang na-discuss sakin ng KMJS team kaya nag-agree po ako. Gusto ko lang po talaga makatulong.”
On the other hand, KPop Jagiya PH has yet to address the allegations.
The danger in sensationalizing women-dominated fandoms
Another issue that this incident gave rise to is how media plays a big part in discrediting girls and women-dominated fandoms and hobby circles. To curb the instinct to sensationalize for clicks is a responsibility, especially when focusing on human interest stories or featuring “misunderstood” or “underrepresented” groups.
K-pop fans have and even continue to be shamed for their interests. One netizen attempted to put this effect into perspective by pointing out how some fans may not have reported the stolen photocards to officials because they may have been too embarrassed or feared judgment.
Big or small, we have to think about how our actions may perpetuate the shaming of women and girls. We have enough things that we’re fighting against being shamed for. We don’t need to have a benign hobby like collecting to be added to the list.
Art by Ella Lambio
Follow Preen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Viber