It was quite a night for K-pop fan Yumi Lee. Her favourite boy group BTS had just released its third studio album Love Yourself: Tear that Friday evening, so she got busy looking for articles to translate and share on Twitter.
“When a new album is out, I have to do a storm of updates about BTS. This includes updating the album’s chart position and sharing legal digital download links. I only slept at 4am this morning,” she reveals when we meet the next day for an interview at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya.
The 23-year-old banking officer from Subang Jaya is a big fan of the Blood Sweat & Tears hitmaker. But Lee is not your typical A.R.M.Y. (which BTS fans are affectionately known as); she’s actually the primary admin for the BTSMalaysia fan base on Twitter.
The account has more than 55,000 followers to-date, with tweets and retweets every hour or so. It is mainly managed by Lee, with the help of four other girls who bonded over their love for the group.
“Think of it as an information centre,” says Lee, with a laugh. Her favourite BTS members are RM and Jungkook.
“We answer any query about BTS and keep other fans informed about the group’s activities.”
For the uninitiated, BTS is a seven-member K-pop outfit formed by Big Hit Entertainment. Since its debut in 2013, the group has taken the music scene – including the elusive American market – by storm with bops such as Mic Drop, DNA and Spring Day.
Forbes named BTS as the most retweeted artiste on Twitter in 2016 – no doubt spurred by dedicated fan accounts such as the one managed by Lee.
“I feel like I’m doing something for the boys by running the fan base. It’s also nice to get positive messages from other fans who like what we do,” says Lee, who took over BTSMalaysia from another fan in 2014.
Lee’s work with the fan base is not confined to Twitter alone. In the past, she has worked with organisations such as Korea Tourism Organization Malaysia and other BTS fan bases to organise activities.
Lee has co-ordinated concert DVD screening parties, album pre-orders and a festival in Kuala Lumpur that brought together other BTS fans throughout Malaysia. The activities are often funded through membership fees or the sale of T-shirts.
All the nitty-gritty aside, what’s life like for a K-pop admin?
“We don’t do blood ceremonies or cry ourselves to sleep looking at photos of the boys. We just do normal things,” she retorts, with a laugh.
On a more serious note, the recent university graduate admits it’s tougher to perform her admin duties now that she has a full-time 9-to-5 job.
Lee takes her role as a fan base admin seriously and wants to cultivate a healthy fan culture. Fan wars, for one, is something that she wants to get rid of.
“The Internet itself is very toxic. When fan wars happen, online bullying takes place. The Internet makes it easy for bullying to take place and I don’t want that to happen,” she explains, adding that all fans must be more rational and tolerant of differing opinions.
Open-mindedness is also something that she hopes the larger Malaysian public will subscribe to when it comes to K-pop.
“I just hope people will stop all the stereotypes about K-pop. Just because it’s a different language and the groups have a different way of delivering their performances, it doesn’t mean you can be hateful towards them. Language shouldn’t be a barrier to music,” she concludes.