K-pop Reception and Participatory Fan Culture in Austria

Sang-Yeon Sung, University of Vienna
Youngkwang (Lukas), winner of the first "Austria’s Next K-pop Star" audition, 2013. Photo: Chamyi Park.
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K-pop’s popularity and its participatory fan culture have expanded beyond Asia and become significant in Europe in the past few years. After South Korean pop singer Psy’s “Gangnam Style” music video topped the Austrian chart in October 2012, the number and size of K-pop events in Austria sharply increased, with fans organizing various participatory events, including K-pop auditions, dance festivals, club meetings, quiz competitions, dance workshops, and smaller fan-culture gatherings. In the private sector, longtime fans have transitioned from participants to providers, and in the public sector, from observers to sponsors. Through in-depth interviews with event organizers, sponsors, and fans, this article offers an ethnographic study of the reception of K-pop in Europe that takes into consideration local interactions between fans and Korean sponsors, perspectives on the genre, patterns of social integration, and histories. As a case study, this research stresses the local situatedness of K-pop fan culture by arguing that local private and public sponsors and fans make the reception of K-pop different in each locality. By exploring local scenes of K-pop reception and fan culture, the article demonstrates the rapidly growing consumption of K-pop among Europeans and stresses multidirectional understandings of globalization.

Keywords: K-pop, participatory fan culture, social media, national image, globalization, “Gangnam Style,” ethnography, Hallyu


K-pop events are very popular in Australia. Domestic people like these kind of dancing events and always waiting for new k-pop event. It is increasing very quickly in Australia.