“The more BTS fans regard BTS as close friends, they feel more familiar with and close to Korea,” claims an empirical study that shows BTS’ positive impact on the national image of Korea. The academic paper titled “K-pop fandom and Korea’s national reputation: Analysis focusing on American BTS fans” was written by Kim Su-jin, an adjunct professor of the Department of Communications and Media at Ewha Womans University. The paper won the most outstanding award at a contest co-hosted by the Korean Association for Public Diplomacy and the Korea Foundation.
“BTS uses social media to interact with fans around, forging a semi-social relationship that creates a long-term bond,” said Professor Kim in a phone interview on Tuesday. “This helps improve Korea’s image in the world.”
Professor Kim and researchers used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk from December 25 to 29, 2020, to conduct an in-depth survey on 195 American BTS fans. Their social media usage and participation were analyzed to understand their semi-social relationship with BTS and Korea’s image improvement based on this relationship.
“Our study confirmed that BTS fandom can be a key resource in Korea’s diplomatic activities,” said Professor Kim. “It has been academically proven that the central and local government’s leveraging of BTS and other K-pop stars can produce good publicity results.”