Sasaeng, the terror of k-idols

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Are you a fan of any k-idols? But do you consider yourself on a normal level or to the point of being obsessive? If you're the stalker type, you probably fit the term Sasaeng (사생), meaning an obsessive fan of some k-idol. Sasaegs cause fear because they are even capable of putting their own lives and that of the celebrity at risk.

In the expression Sasaeng comes from Korean pop culture and “sa” means private (from hanja 私) and “saeng” means life (from hanja 生), to refer to the obsession with artists to the point of invading their private life. Let's see how these fans interfere negatively in the lives of South Korean artists.

What is a sasaeng capable of?

Sasaengs are also considered stalkers. They watch the k-idol to know their steps in order to pursue them. The sasaengs were just celebrity admirers at first, but their love grew to the point where it crossed the line.

These groups do everything they can to have something that the k-idol has used (even underwear and chewed gum!!!), they place hidden cameras mainly in bedrooms and bathrooms (there are cases of them picking up feces and urine from artists), to have exclusive images of them in their normal days. The supposed fans also spend their savings buying tickets to go wherever the artist is. What's worse is that most don't consider themselves sasaengs in the fullest sense of the word.

Sasaeng, the terror of k-idols

Many make it a business in addition to selling hidden camera footage they also trade information from cell phones they access illegally. So k-idols are constantly victims of embarrassment and fake news and this even leads them to severe symptoms of depression and get them off the stage.

sasaeng taxi

Even taxi drivers came in to contribute to the sasaengs. Taxi drivers are not fans, but they help with the acts to earn more money on top of so much fanaticism charging absurd values. They can make good money with it.

So at the end of the day the sasaengs not only spend money to pursue their idols, they also earn through everything they get from the artist, it's worth a hair's breadth! Being sasaengs is almost a profession. Although auctioning artists' personal items is part of Western culture, what these fanatics do is criminal.


Let's say anti-fans are a subcategory of sasaengs. They always accompany the k-idols, but with the intention of denigrating their image. They know everything about the artist's life, to use as weapons and spread fake news. They make fake profiles on social networks to defame and criticize, and are capable of anything to disrupt the celebrity's life.

But the anti-fans are very violent, capable of killing the artist. An example was what happened to TVXQ's Yunho in 2006, he fell victim to anti-fans. He received an orange juice from an alleged fan and inside it contained pieces of glass and glue, Yunho had to be hospitalized because he started vomiting blood afterwards. After that, the idol started to be more cautious with gifts from fans.

Measures against the sasaengs

In order to decrease the number of cases and have punishments to inhibit sasaengs, in the year 2011 a new clause was added to the Minor Offenses Act of South Korea to protect K-pop members. Another step was the development of a support center for singers to offer advice and help artists deal with the spotlight.

On July 16, 2021, SM Entertainment, the agency responsible for the bands EXONCTspaceSHINeeRed Velvet, took a position on the matter and stated that measures are already being taken against sasaengs. The company said that even cyber attacks will be taken into account and strict measures will be taken.

Sasaeng, the terror of k-idols

Real cases of sasaengs in action

Unfortunately this is part of the reality of k-idols. Despite care and security, sasaengs appear at very unexpected times. I will mention here some cases.

BTS's Jungkook

In 2019 boyband member BTS, Jungkook was broadcasting a live stream to at least 4.4 million people. He did this because during the broadcast when he got the call saying he was just checking if that was Jungkook's number. So the artist already said immediately live that in cases like this he blocks the call and that it is common for him to receive calls from sasaengs.

Super Junior's Heechul and Leeteuk

In 2011 Leeteuk and Heechul were in a car when they started being chased by some cars with sasaengs. The artists tried to escape by taking several routes, but unfortunately they couldn't lose and had an accident with 7 other cars. Nobody suffered serious injuries.

Sasaeng, the terror of k-idols

Girls Generation's Taeyeon

In the year 2011 during Girls Generation's performance a fan entered the stage and tried to kidnap Taeyeon. The fanatic tried to take her by pulling her wrists, and another member of the group, Sunny tried to stop it. Fortunately, the sasaeng was unable to kidnap the leader of the group because of the quick action of the security team.

Sasaeng, the terror of k-idols

Shim Changmin from TVXQ

Shim Changmin is the main vocalist of the band and he received many calls from female fans, bothered by this he decided to change his number. Minutes later he receives a message stating that he has changed his number. He changed his number again and got another fan message saying that changing his number so many times is not good. Not to mention also that the singer received photos of personal things that only had where he lived.

Sasaeng, the terror of k-idols

EXO group

A sasaeng pushed EXO's Kai with the aim of hurting and he ended up injuring his ankle and had to be taken away with the help of the other members. There was also a case where a sasaeng entered the hotel room where former member Tao was staying and put a camera in the bathroom to record him during his shower. The group is one of the most experienced groups involving sasaengs.

Sasaeng, the terror of k-idols

Can sasaengs really be considered fans?

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