참가 (participation)

Upon reflecting on what I personally experience as a fan of EYK, I could see a multilayered, physical and intangible quality to the EYK fan experience, which has grown from EYK’s focus on giving fans an unique, customised insight into South Korea which recognises that “social interaction and knowledge work effectiveness depend heavily on user engagement” (Orsatti and Riemer 2012).

Firstly, it is inherently important  to define what constitutes a ‘fan’, in order to understand how important interaction with EYK is in the context of this discussion. According to Brough & Shresthova (2012), “fans are typically understood to be individuals who engage deeply with, and often assert their identity through, popular culture content.” Thus it is important to reflect on how deeply fans are permitted to engage with the content and the hosts of the channel, physically and intangibly, and how much the content creators are facilitating the integration of their culture into the identity of fans.

Simon and Martina’s approach to YouTube has changed significantly since they started vlogging (video blogging) in 2008. To once again experience this change, I took a step back in time to their archives channel. The format and filming/commentary style was the immediate change I noticed; I felt like I was intruding on personal holiday videos, a pure auto-ethnographic approach which focused on their reactions to new cultural experiences. In comparison, their current filming style is much more professional and performative, almost educational in tone, and they place a very high importance on the opinions, interests and engagement of their fans. This is demonstrated most obviously in their TL;DR videos (Too Long; Didn’t Read, crowd-sourced questions about South Korea and comparisons with other cultures/countries are answered by Simon and Martina) and F.A.P F.A.P.s (Food Adventure Program For Awesome People, videos which help viewers understand Korean traditions and culture).

The Eat Your Kimchi Studio! Credit: @leechangsun

The Eat Your Kimchi Studio!
Credit: @leechangsun

Secondly, Simon and Martina’s establishment of a permanent physical presence in the heart of South Korea provides fans a space to amplify their fandom experience and extend their learning experience. The Eat Your Kimchi studio, where Simon, Martina, Leigh and Soo Zee film videos, edit, hang out and conduct interviews with KPop bands, is a tangible space where they can meet up with fans and where they also film one of their highly interactive video formats: LiveChats. During LiveChats the EYK crew interact with fans through Twitter and YouTube comments and open fan mail. They also do this at their recently opened cafe in Seoul, the You Are Here cafe, an additional physical space for fans to engage with EYK and become part of the content themselves!

The You Are Here cafe Credit: DailyBap

The You Are Here cafe
Credit: DailyBap

 

Finally, Tumblr, a slightly underrated part of their digital presence, is a great demonstration of how deeply EYK values their fans and exemplifies how much EYK has become part of fans’ social interaction, hobbies, and happiness,  e.g.

 

 

1. mightaswellbeonjupiter:

So this girl walks into the lounge while I’m listening to some music and studying when I notice she has a “Soy un Dorito” shirt on. I was so excited and then suddenly, Sherlock started playing. It was drama-like fate.

EYK: Did you become bestest best friends? I hope so!

2.

yeshisson:

tumblr_n9j659gMR31qfeivao1_500

The promised fanart for EYK! 😀

EYK: AAAHHHHHH!!!  THIS IS AWESOME!

 

 

 

Looking at examples like these clearly demonstrates the value of participation and engagement to both fans and the object of the fandom. I hope to demonstrate this relationship on the EYK Compendium, and maybe add to or amplify the role of this relationship within the culture of Eat Your Kimchi.

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3 comments

  1. I think it is really important that you have framed your experience as a fan.
    You described several different levels of fan engagement, and it will be interesting to see how you, as a fan, engage with EYK. That is, which platforms you prefer, and whether the fact they have established a physical presence in Korea helps or hinders your engagement. By hinder, I mean whether you feel as if your missing out on content because you can’t pop in to their studios.
    As someone who has no idea who EYK are, I was surprised when I did some research and found they are the 18th most popular Youtubers in Korea (http://theurbanwire.com/2011/03/eating-your-kimchi/). I assumed that the channel would mainly be popular with foreigners, rather than Koreans. This could tie back to the fact that their Korean fans can experience their studios and the Simon and Martina on a personal level.

    Like

  2. Reading your post really made me look at South Korea from south across the border from the north. My focus has been on the access to and use (or lack of) of digital media in North Korea. You offer such a colourful, vibrant and free media culture which severely juxtaposes what is happening in the north. I don’t get how one ethnic group living so close can have polarised cultures because of the political attitudes of a small elite group in the north.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You really do wonder why North Koreans don’t try to rebel against the leaders as one…. there’s so much that they are missing out on. Or maybe that’s just our own view of what matters talking? Hard to know.

      Like

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