K-Pop Fandom Racism Bingo

New to my weird need to make bingo cards for racism I’ve seen in the fandoms I’m in? Check out my Black Panther and Star Wars fandom racism bingo cards!


Unfortunately for everyone who follows me… I’m at it again.

Nothing new has happened in my primary fandoms. I just like making these cards. (Because both the Black Panther and Star Wars bingo cards were born directly from witnessing or experiencing antiblackness, but this has just been on my to-do list for a month or so.)

So here’s my fandom racism bingo card for… various K-pop fandoms. It’s majorly multi purpose so it can be used in reference to almost anything when it comes to racism in these fandom spaces.

Now, here are some helpful explanations/unhelpful snark!

(Remember folks, they’re supposed to be snarky like my memes to cope with fandom racism. If you get your feelings hurt somehow, that is entirely a “you” problem and you may keep that to yourself!)


“But Namjoon” – When you go to talk about another idols’ issues and someone pops up like “But Namjoon [was problematic before] so [current idol] should be able to do it now” like… what are you? A toddler? Stop that shit.

Appreciation, Not Appropriation – How… can you appreciate a culture you actually know nothing about?

That’s really all I’ve got running through my head at this point. Because what do any of these artists know about the cultures they appropriate beyond popular culture imported, variety shows, news, and tourists? They’re appreciating what they’re sold and told and that is not actually… us as we are.

“Well I’m [Ethnicity] and I don’t care!” – Good for you, now kindly shut the hell up?

(In all seriousness, not all people of color will agree on the thing being racist and that’s fine. But there’s a special place in heck for people of color who show up to conversations about racism to be like “well I don’t care” so their white friends can feel more secure – or, in the case of antiblackness, allow non-Black people period to feel better about themselves/not caring.)

“They Just Don’t Know Any Better” – Mmm… doubtful? At what point do we move past “No Korean ever, anywhere has ever realized that racism is a thing” and talk about the fact that that statement infantilizes Koreans and keeps necessary conversations from happening.

Calling Fans Antis – If a fan of color comments on an idol appropriating or insulting an aspect of their culture, one of the first comments from the fandom is this dismissive claim that the people having these conversations “must” be antis out to tear down the artists and not real (and real frustrated) fans.

“[COMPANY] is just trying to set [ARTIST] up” – Back when NCT Dream came out with “Boom Boom” and Chenle wore some attempted cornrows, lots of people said that SM Entertainment and its stylists were trying to set Chenle up because SM was “known” for mistreating its Chinese artists. (I promise you that no stylist puts an artist in cornrows because they want them to get yelled at…)

But you stan [ARTIST]” – Telling a fan (especially another fan of color) “but you stan that artist so don’t say shit now” is just really unhelpful because no idol fan can say their faves are actually confirmed perfect (and anti-racist). It’s a cousin to the “But Namjoon” square but focuses more on fan interest instead of artist behavior.

Claims that it’s not actual appropriation – Isn’t it weird when folks decide they know what “actual” cultural appropriation is and that it’s never the thing currently being complained about?

“The world is bigger than the US” – Yes, and Black and Brown people outside of the US also don’t like it when their cultures are consumed and regurgitated by Korean pop artists! Also, it’s been like 20 years of criticism: the companies SHOULD KNOW BETTER BY NOW!

THOSE ARE DUTCH/FRENCH BRAIDS – Seriously, what is with people deciding that all of these braids that stylists – and whoever braided Hyuna’s hair that last time she was on vacation – have all of these different origins that totally have NOTHING to do with Black people. Fun fact, the actually do! (In some cases… the origins of the braiding styles commonly claimed to be used instead of cornrows… are Black people from centuries ago.)

Do Black People Own Braids Now? – Yes, yes we do. Sorry!

MLK Quote – This can also be replaced with a “MLK would be disappointed in you people for not graciously sharing your excellent hairstyles with idols”. (Something I saw someone say back in April 2019 when Bang Chan of Stray Kids sort of had cornrows.

“It’s not their fault at all!” – Can we agree that while it’s usually not 100% of the artists’ fault that they’ve appropriated cultures or slipped up and leaned into stereotypes, using that as an excuse to shut down conversations entirely is WRONG.

AMERICAN CENTRISM – When folks say this – especially about cultural appropriation – what they really mean is “it’s actually racist for Black and brown people living in the US to criticize Korean idols for minor to major racism at any level”. They just know how ridiculous they look so they try to blame it on US Hegemony (see TK Park)

“What about other idols who appropriated” – What about them? I can multitask.

“It’s just hair!”It really is not. (No, seriously.)

Solely Blame The Stylists – While the stylists should hold a significant amount of blame for cultural appropriation, what about everyone else? The video directors, the managers, the review boards for TV broadcast, and yes, the artists themselves because you can’t keep pretending that every single artist is fully ignorant of the fact that trying to wear other cultures is uncomfortable and almost always brings backlash from communities that do not feel appreciated.

“They weren’t trying to harm anyone!” – Intent isn’t magical and honestly, the fact that all of these artists (the ones who’ve appropriated, the ones who’ve said the n-word, the ones who’ve sang that racist ass curry song, or the ones who’ve done blackface) “weren’t trying to harm anyone” stings even harder because it’s clear that we’re not “someones” to them.

Everyone is problematic… so no one is. – The basis for this is that people aren’t perfect so unless you, the fan, are perfect and like perfect people, you can’t say shit about the idol. Except of course, this square doesn’t take into consideration people like me who are perfect!

“This is why everyone hates [specific group of POC]” – I don’t actually know if it happens to other groups of POC in K-pop fandom spaces, but I’ve seen multiple instances where Black fans are told that “being sensitive” about racism is why everyone supposedly hates us! Like folks will just get on Beyonce’s internet and say that shit.

Report For [IDOL] Accounts Getting Involved – Let’s say that Wonho (Monsta X/solo work incoming) gets cornrows for some godawful reason or decides that he too will sing that racist ass curry song SO MANY IDOLS HAVE SUNG BEFORE – When fans in this hypothetical situation complain and try to raise awareness of the issues, inevitably a Report for Wonho account will get involve and blast the fans’ names and tweets to their audience of at least 10k followers who will then all harass the fans in question for being an “anti” of Wonho.

(THIS IS A HYPOTHETICAL, AGAIN… NOT REAL.)

“Clear The Searches!” – One of the more useless ways that fans try to protect their favorites is the cry of “clear the searches” in order to keep the idol or journalists covering K-pop from seeing the issue. For one thing, it doesn’t work. For another, when it comes to racism (on “minor” to large levels)… isn’t it a bit weird to decide to do damage control first and foremost?

Spamming Critical Fans With Fancams – The spamming alone (“delete your tweet/account”, “but you’re white”, “i’m Black and“) is annoying but when it’s folks combining their spammy tweets with fancams you’ve already seen a bunch of times because you already like those artists… UGH!

Educate The Idol, Don’t Hate” – Isn’t it wild that tweeting “we would like [company] and [artist] to understand that racism is bad because [history lesson] and that the community affected is displeased” is taken as an attack?

Like I’ve had people pull the “educate don’t hate” shit on me and trust me, you would know if I was hating on an artist. Like I shit talk a bunch of folks ON MAIN on the regular. Expressing disappointment or frustration in an artist doing something I dislike is NOT hate.


And for a fun and friendly reminder, never take these bingo cards too seriously. Okay? They’re basically a way to have fun with something that isn’t actually fun and to cope with how cultures are used as costumes and fans of color are brushed off within different fandoms here. But while it’s serious… it’s also not that serious? Got it?

No go forth and get bingo!

About Zeenah

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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