Sunday June 21 (2:48am KST), a GOT7 fan account tweets: “Update: JYP is starting to put English subs on GOT7 YouTube’s videos. This is just the beginning.”
If you’re an international K-Pop fan it’s likely that the content you’re going to see from your favourite group has English subtitles (at least). This doesn’t apply to Ahgases/IGOT7 (GOT7’s fanbase) and most of GOT7’s content.
English subtitles are just one of the requests in the “Better Treatment For GOT7” Project. Ahgases have been actively requesting for better, more effective promotion as well as providing safety and security of GOT7 for years with mass emails to JYP Entertainment and many Twitter campaigns. The fandom is only facing silence from JYPE and assisting in repeated acts of mismanagement and lack of marketing, deterring GOT7’s progress in Korea and worldwide. Meanwhile, IGOT7 pays for the group’s ads on social media networks and billboards for every comeback, spends hours translating content, secure them 1st places on Korean music chart shows through voting and works hard to secure GOT7 a spot on various Billboard Charts.
“Ahgases have trended hashtags similar to #BetterTreatmentForGOT7 and #GOT7DeservesBetter off and on since 2016. The frustration and confusion that has been rippling through the fandom for years coalesced into anger with GOT7’s April 2020 comeback with their mini-album DYE, as fans saw the direct impact of inaction from JYPE on a number of issues that we have been voicing consistently for a long time. It was past time for that anger to be channeled and focused. The current project aims to send a loud and clear message to JYPE communicating our concerns and demands.”
The first part of “Better Treatment For GOT7” Project consisted of a survey to better understand current IGOT7 (the fanbase) complaints and concerns. Many of the activities on the list are aspects of the promotion cycle that are already available and in place for other JYPE groups. Moreover, these are considered “bare minimum” for any K-Pop group either looking for international attention or wanting to keep their international popularity.
The second part of the Project was a fundraising to rent a LED AD truck for several days. The truck will be driven around JYPE Headquarters in Gangdon (Seoul) while a video playing on the truck will list demands and concerns from the fanbase. “We want to note that we didn’t come up with this concept; other K-Pop fandoms have used protest trucks very effectively and we are grateful to our sister fandoms for their innovation and dedication.” In less than 6 hours they’ve reach they $4,000 goal.
GOT7 is undeniably one of the most prominent global K-pop acts. Since their debut in 2014, the group has been referred to as ‘international’, thanks to their multinational lineup: the AmeriThaiKong line – Mark from the US (but he is Chinese-American of Taiwanese descent), Bam Bam from Thailand and Jackson from Hong Kong – and the Koreans JB, Jinyoung, Youngjae and Yugyeom. The diversity of the group helps that the foreign members can communicate fluently with international fans in their respective home countries’ languages and in English, eliminating the often-frustrating language barrier. It also easily wins over many fans from these member’s home countries, creating an incredible and strong multicultural fanbase and appeal to a wider population around the world.
Over their six years career, GOT7 connects with pop audiences everywhere with their diverse music genre suiting Western tastes, performed all over the world, and their releases are regular fixtures on Billboard’s Charts. Despite this, Ahgases can’t close their eyes on how GOT7 is inhibited by their own entertainment agency and marketing team (known as Division 2), also considering as GOT7 is a very important source of revenue, “A significant percentage of JYPE’s annual revenue comes from GOT7, primarily due to their large international fanbase, which goes above and beyond to help with sales during every comeback. JYPE’s financial solvency would be in danger without the earnings generated from GOT7 and Ahgases are hurt and angry that the group has never been appropriately acknowledged and appreciated by their company for this.“
“Ahgase stress levels started to increase in 2016 when they felt like the boys were being overworked and overwhelmed by poorly managed schedules. Ahgases first started to voice their disappointment in how GOT7 is promoted in 2017, citing an overall lack of promotion in South Korea for the “7 For 7” comeback, as the company rejected the many invitations GOT7 received to appear on variety shows and the boys were only promoted on their own VLives.”
What IGOT7 sees as one of the main issues is the lack of promotion and management. The list includes very short and fully packed periods of teaser schedules and active promotion compared to other agency mates, resulting in not giving IGOT7 enough time to provide adequate support, organise streaming/voting teams and to prepare funds for comebacks; promotion on social media is posted with lack of attention to details and more often than not being inaccurate, not providing English translation for official announcements at time of publication to album pre-orders periods never long as those of other JYPE groups and albums still not available on Amazon.
The latter has been a recurrent trending topic within the fanbase and Twitter as JYPE partnered with The Orchard for global digital and physical distribution of releases from JYPE artists worldwide with the aim of expanding the agency’s global presence. Meaning better, larger distribution for physical and digital products so more opportunities to reach a wider international audience. Although GOT7 (and ITZY – another JYPE group under Division 2) physical and digital releases are not distributed via Amazon in the US market, something that instead happens to artists like TWICE and Stray Kids.
For an agency who aims to target international markets with GOT7, JYPE is incredibly falling behind in making all content available to a non-speaking Korean audience and to international Ahgases. Moreover, not having subtitled and translated content is limiting creation of international press coverage – and overall press opportunities for the group and/or single members. The engagement new international fans can have with this content is reduced and the unavailability of subtitles hinder them in getting to know the members’ personalities and dynamics within the group in series like TOURLOG and the latest DYEARY. IGOT7 are also proactive with creative content ideas proposing “more diverse and original content on social media, which would also be helpful to boost Billboard Social rankings. Examples of ‘diverse and original content’ being vocalists covering songs, publishing vlog-style videos on YouTube, dance covers, member self-edited videos, etc.”
During the “DYE” comeback in April 2020 IGOT7 was the driving force in the promotion cycle: “We all put a lot of work into supporting the DYE comeback and we think we are characterising the sentiment of many fans correctly when we say it felt like we were supporting GOT7 more than their own company.” They’ve also highlighted multiple times how channels like Dingo, MNET’s Studio Choom and shows like Weekly Idol have created for GOT7 better (and subtitled) content and done a better promotion than JYPE.
GOT7 members are not unaware of JYPE behaviour and Ahgases concerns; they have mentioned the situation with different levels of openness on several occasions and on TV shows. They’ve talked and humored about their lack of creative freedom and control over their own songs and the agency not promoting their work as much as that of the other agency’s groups, even less promoting their sales, streaming and charts achievements. In more than one occasion, GOT7 members have openly talked about Park Jinyoung (JYP Entertainment CEO) mistreatment and this has been highlighted by Ahgases too as an additional issue. Park is very well known for easily rejecting songs written by the members and/or the group, just after listening to half of the verse because they don’t fit GOT7’s ‘colours’ in his opinion and ultimately having GOT7 to not get to decide their own title tracks for a period of time. The fanbase can’t stress enough how much GOT7 deserves their creative freedom with comments like “Please let them produce their music because GOT7 members are the one who knows their “true color”, not JYPE.” and ‘Please just put more appreciation to their work. Let them do/make and release their music.”
Park’s (mis)treatment and (mis)consideration of the group is another issue that the fanbase constantly addresses. In various interviews and TV shows, Park reprimanded the members for their singing and rapping, writing skills and dancing, as well as not being able to perform well on music shows and not wanting to book GOT7 for variety shows because “not funny enough” despite the members clearly expressing the desire of going to more variety shows because they enjoy it and can express their bright and funny side. It’s worth mentioning that GOT7’s hilarious appearance on PikiCast “After Mom Falls Asleep” episode from 2018 have now reached 21M views, making it the most viewed from the series. Definitely not bad for a “not funny enough” group.
Furthermore, JYPE has failed GOT7 and fans in managing one of the most important things: member’s safety. A well known and major issue within K-Pop is the existence of Sasaeng and their obsessive behaviour. Over the years, despite GOT7 members personal statements demanding Sasaeng to stop and JYPE’s firm position against them declaring they will be taking legal actions against this behaviour towards their artists, no one and nothing have stopped them from invading the members’ privacy with constant cyberbullying, leaking personal information, calling them 24/7, breaking into their apartments forcing a member (BamBam) to relocate against their will and also causing a car accident with Jackson by dangerously following (stalking) the car he was in while on his way to the airport.
As @OT7Ahga pointed out, “Our goals were primarily determined by the results of the survey we conducted: We want to see the company increase safety and security for GOT7 members, including legal action taken against sasaengs and updates on previous legal actions taken. The first big change we want to see is increased security and protection for GOT7 members. We want to know if any sasaengs were blacklisted and/or sued, like JYPE has promised on multiple occasions, and we want to know what steps the company is taking to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional health of GOT7’s members. Following this, we want to see improvements across the board for GOT7’s next comeback – longer pre-order time, increased international album availability, more television appearances as a group, and error-free announcements of activities accompanied by English translations.”
Ultimately, to further undermine GOT7 worldwide recognition, JYPE suddenly announced the closing of GOT7 Japanese Official Fan Club, increasing the fanbase concerns, “Our survey received comment after comment after comments from Japanese ahgase, asking for an explanation. The Japanese GOT7 fanbase has been a strong and solid source of support for GOT7 since their debut. They deserve to be treated with respect and at least given an explanation from JYPE.”
How can Ahgases (and K-Pop fans) find and engage with “Better Treatment For GOT7” Projects?
“We encourage all ahgases to support fandomwide projects and events! All GOT7WWU fanbases communicate with each other daily to share concerns raised by fans in countries around the world and to share reliable information across the fandom. A great way to get involved is to become active with your local GOT7WWU fanbase – a list of all union fanbases and platforms is located here
For being one of the BIG3 entertainment agencies in South Korea, JYPE has shown GOT7 poor professionalism with mismanagement, lack of promotion and absence of safety measures towards the members, making Ahgases feel hopeless and still demanding answers to their concerns. After six years since GOT7 debut, it seems like JYPE is not willing to satisfy the members’ desires and find a common ground with Ahgases. So what are the chances for GOT7 to shine brighter internationally and in Korea if JYPE doesn’t change the way they promote the group? In the end, is JYPE GOT7’s biggest anti-fan?