Today’s blog is inspired by this question I received on ask.fm:
It’s a good question, deserving of a detailed response, so I thought it would be interesting to answer it in blog form.
Korea doesn’t really have any anti-stalking laws – unless the sasaengs assault their idols, trespass on property or steal something, the law can’t really do much. The idols can’t do much either – any interaction with these people or even via their entourage and security just feeds the saesangs because it confirms that what they’re doing has a payoff – “EXO’s security guard slapped me – now I’m THAT MUCH CLOSER TO EXO” etc.
It doesn’t leave too many options… but I thought of a unique solution that just might actually work. Read on, and come with me on an anti-fanfiction trip into the universe of stalkers and sasaengs.
You a 14-year old girl living in Seoul, and EXO has always been your favourite group. How can they not be? They’re just so perfect, especially your bias, Luhan. You’ve got all the CDs, a lot of the merch, you are in the official fanclub, and you do your best to trend hashtags on Twitter and support EXO in those Internet polls for “most popular group”, “best group”, “most attractive group” etc where you’re allowed to vote as many times as you want. One time you stayed awake all night clicking that checkbox like a lab rat, but it was worth it because EXO nearly beat out SHINee for some “battle” thing or whatever. You had to stay up – it was so close! What if EXO lost and you weren’t there? At least you know that it wasn’t YOUR fault that EXO lost – you did all you could, you didn’t let the team down.
Sometimes you wonder about other members of the EXO fandom though – do they really have any determination? They make excuses and say that the polls are just a measure of who can click the fastest, but taking the time to vote repeatedly shows commitment to your idols, and can anyone really call themselves EXOtics if they don’t support EXO with their whole heart? If you don’t care about your idols, are you really a fan or just a nobody?
There’s one girl in the fanclub who really pisses you off though. She’s one of those “sasaeng” fans. She annoys you because she’s always telling these stories, and acting like she’s so smart. A few weeks ago she talked about how she got to touch Luhan, like, actually got to touch him like OMG. That bitch. Sure, it was only his arm brushing against her for a brief second while the security guard shoved her to the floor, but you’re sure it was a precious moment that they shared, and more importantly, it happened to her and not you, which isn’t right. You don’t see what’s so special about her, that only she can do that. You make a pact – you will find out what she did to make it happen, and you too will also touch Luhan, one day.
Not long after, one of your friends from the fanclub comes to visit and swap some EXO photocards. You gently bring up the topic of saesang fans.
You: “How do they get so close to celebrities?”
Friend: “They use taxis. Really expensive ones that you find online, who are familiar with the routes and know where the stars go. They trail the stars all over the place in unmarked cars for the whole day. Why are you interested in this? You’re not considering…”
You: “Oh, gosh no. I’m not one of THOSE people.”
It’s better that she doesn’t know what you’re planning – you don’t want YET ANOTHER person touching Luhan instead of you, after all – he’s yours. But you’re not one of those sasaengs, I mean… they’re crazy. You just really love Luhan and want to meet him and touch him and will do anything to show that you care about him. Later, when your friend leaves, you look up “sasaeng taxi” online. Surprisingly, results are easy to find, with several taxis listed on blog sites along with their phone numbers. Narrowing down the search even more, you try “EXO sasaeng taxi”. The first hit from the search engine is amazing – a blogsite with taxis specifically dedicated to following EXO, they’ll even narrow their chase down to specific members of the group for you if they have to split up during their schedules! It sure is expensive – 200,000 won per day – but expensive as it is that’s actually pretty cheap compared to what some of the others are charging (up to 800,000 for some of them – omg), and surely one day of chasing should be all it takes to meet Luhan and touch his angelic body. You make a phonecall to a “Luhan driver” and make an appointment for bright and early the next morning.
The next day, the taxi pulls up in front of your house. You’re relieved to find out that the driver is an older female. It puts you at ease somewhat – you’ve heard horrible stories from your friend about sasaengs getting stuck with extra surprise charges and having to “pay with their bodies”, which fortunately doesn’t seem like much of a risk here (not that you wouldn’t do it if it came to that, you could just close your eyes and think of Luhan, but better not to have to worry about such things at all). Also her age means she’s probably a little too old for Luhan so that’s one less level of competition, one less pair of eyes ogling your baby. You get in, feeling good about what lies ahead.
“You pay by card?” she asks, waving an EFTPOS machine at you. You nod and swipe the machine.
“Also, please sign.” The cab driver thrusts a pen and a piece of paper on a clipboard into your lap.
“What’s this for?” Your eyes glaze over at the paper, full of incomprehensible legal jargon.
“Personal liability insurance waiver. If you see Luhan, and you rush out of the cab and trip on some concrete and break your knee, we are not responsible for your medical expenses. Please sign.” Faced with not much choice, you sign the paper.
“Okay, we drive now. First stop is SM dormitory, Luhan is practising for Music Core.” The driver pulls away and you feel a palpable sense of excitement. OMG YOU’RE GOING TO GET TO MEET LUHANSIFUIFAB WGFASF WFFS **** SPAZZ*****
Soon enough, you’re outside EXO’s dorms, in the back seat of the taxi. You recognise the dorm building from the EXO official fansite, it’s definitely the one. You’re so nervous and wired that your whole body is shaking. Your taxi driver gets out of the vehicle and walks around the corner in the other direction… where is she going? Never mind… you look back to the dorm building and concentrate hard, at any minute Luhan could emerge, and then you can rush him and meet him and say hi and tell him about how you’re his biggest fan and then he’ll give you a hug and he’ll feel the special connection that you have for him that nobody else does. Maybe he’ll fall in love. Soon enough the taxi driver comes back, with some snacks and drinks.
“We may be waiting a few hours, for him to come out. Music Core is not until later. You will need to eat and drink.”
You figure that it makes sense that catering is part of the service, after all it’s expensive enough as it is just to ride the taxi, throwing in a free meal is the least they could do. Food and drink is the last thing on your mind though, you’re not really hungry but then you realise that you haven’t drunk anything since yesterday afternoon and actually are a bit thirsty, must be all the fangirling and anticipation wearing you out and making you sweat. You’d better drink something. You take a few sips of the tea she bought you and get back to the business of waiting for Luhan.
With nothing to do except wait, you decide to make some small talk – about your favourite topic, of course. “Do you like EXO too?” you ask the taxi driver.
She turns around and looks you dead in the eye. “I like them a lot. They pay my wages, if you know what I mean.”
You nod and smile, heh – funny joke. She continues to stare at you – she’s not smiling at all. Have you misunderstood something?
Then something feels odd. You start to feel a bit light-headed. Must be all the excitement, but then it starts to get worse. Before you know it you can barely keep your eyes open. This isn’t right, how can you be so excited yet so drowsy? Your eyelids get heavier. Just before you pass out, you notice the driver picking up her taxi radio, she says something to someone about “reporting in” but you don’t quite hear it all before the side of your head lightly lands on the carseat…
You wake up. You look around, you’re in a small room, lying on a single bed. One wall is made completely of bars, with a barred and locked door. You also notice a toilet seat in the far corner. That’s odd, why is there a toilet in the bedroom… then it occurs to you that you’re actually in a cell of some kind. Why? There is a poster above your head, which looks like this:
You recognise the photograph… it’s SM Entertainment’s new park that they were building. Wasn’t that meant to be a tourist attraction? Is this really where you are? Looking through the bars, you see another set of bars, and a cell beyond. There is another girl in the other cell, who is about the same age as you. She is looking at you, having noticed your movement.
You call out to her. “What is this place?”
“It’s Project Luhan.” She shrugs and points to a poster on her wall, exactly the same as yours.
“Yes, but what…”
The sound of boots on a concrete floor starting ringing out in the distance, and then getting quickly closer. The other girl starts getting visibly nervous. “I’ll tell you later, okay? Just be quiet for now. I have to pass this! I have to get out of here! I’ve been here for too long!”
“Ssssshh! Just be quiet! Don’t say anything! Don’t fuck it up for me, I don’t want to wait another week!”
The sound of a metal door opening and closing is followed by a guard who appears and unlocks the other girl’s cell door. He then enters the cell and she stands up perfectly straight and salutes. You notice that the guard has military stripes that bear the SM Entertainment logo. The guard starts barking rapid fire questions at the girl.
“HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AT PROJECT LUHAN?”
“Six weeks, sir!”
“DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE BEEN REHABILITATED?”
“Yes sir! Very much so, sir!”
“WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE K-POP GROUP?”
“AND WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEMBER, WITHIN THAT GROUP?”
“Luhan, sir!” Your heart feels a slight stab.
“WHAT IS LUHAN’S JOB WITHIN SM ENTERTAINMENT?”
“He is an idol, sir!”
“AND WHAT DOES BEING AN IDOL ENTAIL?”
“He learns to sing and dance songs that are written for him in EXO, and to entertain fans. It is his job to appear friendly and relateable to fans, so that they support the group’s activities, and to work hard as a product of SM Entertainment. He is just an ordinary person with a job to do. As he is very busy, he does not need interference in his personal or working life. Sir!” This answer sounds especially scripted and robotic, she’s obviously been trained to memorise and recite this.
“AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HIS PERSONAL LIFE?”
“His personal life is none of my business, sir!”
“IS THAT RIGHT?”
“Yes, yes sir!”
“WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF I TOLD YOU THAT LUHAN WAS IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH… WOOHEE FROM DAL SHABET?”
“I would be completely fine with that, sir! The personal affairs of idols are none of my business, sir!”
“THEY ARE TOGETHER, AND VERY MUCH IN LOVE!”
“That’s completely fine, sir!” The girl’s voice starts to falter a bit. You can sense that her resolve is cracking.
“IN FACT, I SAW THEM HOLDING HANDS ON THE WAY OVER HERE! WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?”
“That’s fine sir! It’s none of my business!” She starts openly sobbing.
“I HEARD THAT THEY ARE GETTING MARRIED SOON!”
Girl 1063 bursts into tears. “No! He’s mine! She can’t have Luhan! He’s mine! I followed him everywhere! I even gave him my menstrual pad! I gave him the blood out of my body! How can he dare go out with that slut! It’s not fair! That fucking bitch! Can’t he see that I’m the one who cares the most!”
The guard walks away without a word, locking the cell door behind him. Girl 1063 collapses onto the bed, crying and mumbling incoherently, something about “pussy payment” but you can’t quite catch it. For the first time, you notice a metal tag on your wrist, with a number – 1064. It’s going to be a long stay.