The ‘Rational’ fan? Negotiating Transnational Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism among Hong Kong BTS fans

Lisa Yuk-ming LEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In recent years, fans of the internationally renowned K-pop group, BTS, (affectionately known as “ARMY”), has achieved global renown with their social political engagement, both online and offline, in different locales, epitomizing the best marriage between globalized popular culture as agent of universal humanitarian ideals, and participatory fandom. On the other hand, the K-pop group has caught backlash from mainland Chinese fen (fans), sparking controversy between transnationalized (pop) fandom (which supposedly could allude to a sense of cosmopolitanism) and (local) nationalism. In this paper, I wish to address, through the case of some Hong Kong BTS fan clubs, the subjectivity of some Asian fans and their complex (layers of) affective and tactical negotiation with competing forces, which are intertwined with (their coping with) the local political juncture. Through in-depth interviews with different fan page organizers of BTS fans/ fan clubs, I will critically discuss how they (resort to) performing “rationality” to balance these forces on the one hand, while inadvertently asserting the boundaries in the seamlessly global flows of popular culture (in the increasingly turbulent Asian context).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-808
Number of pages16
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number5
Early online date19 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Hong Kong BTS fans
  • pop cosmopolitanism
  • rationality
  • fan nationalism
  • K-pop


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