I first embarked upon my journey into the realm of ResLife in August of 2022. Having worked in just about every facet of my previous institution besides Housing, the culture shift was most certainly an adjustment. The acceptance of late night phone calls and last minute improvisation both became new and helpful additions to my repertoire. As a new ResLife professional, I know I don’t have to remind this crowd of readers about the ups and downs of the position. However, as I prepare myself to trek into my second year within the role, I can’t help but revel in all of the useful skills that I’ve collected along the way.
Interestingly, my first year as an Assistant Hall Director was also the year I found myself delving deeper into K-Pop fandom. My favorite group’s trip to the United States happened to fall on both my birthday and my institution’s autumn break; I took the chance to fly out of the state to see the show and can easily say I’ve never been the same since. While nothing beats the collective effervescence that comes with seeing the artist everyone gathered for, I became far more enamored by the sense of community demonstrated within the fandom than anything else.
I realized that K-Pop fans were some of the best organizers, community builders, and crisis managers that I had ever witnessed.
Since coming to terms with said realization, I’ve only immersed myself more into the fandom; I’ve attended more concerts and even picked up a role as a volunteer event planner in my area. The more that I interact, the more I’ve been able to identify a striking amount of similarities between the things I love about engaging with the K-Pop fandom’s community and the tasks that I embark on in my role as an assistant hall director.
Thus was born the list of 4 reasons I believe that K-Pop fans would make fantastic hall directors!
They’re Great at Community Organizing
Those in the K-Pop fandom are not strangers to the idea of utilizing their collective strength in order to reach a shared goal. Surely, you’ve come across an article or two that addresses the controversy of streaming culture; fans gather in numbers to stream music videos and singles on multiple devices, skyrocketing their favorite groups to the top of the charts. While some disagree with the notion and question the authenticity of the metrics, the power of the community is undeniable. But fandom power reaches far beyond The Hot 100.
K-Pop fans are also adamant about fundraising to purchase Times Square advertisements (costing up to 30,000 a week back in 2017) to promote their favorite groups or members on their birthdays. Most importantly though, the K-Pop fandom uses the same strength in numbers to contribute to good causes, a fact that became obvious back in 2020 when BTS’ fandom Army raised up to $1,000,000 in funds to match the donation of their favorite group to the Black Lives Matter cause.
If you want to meet a goal, leave it to the strength of a K-Pop fandom.
And Event Planning, Too…
K-Pop fans know how to plan large-scale events. If you aren’t impressed by the fact that panel topics at KCON (a popular K-Pop convention paired with a concert full of performances full of stars) can span from beauty advice to race dynamics and cultural appropriation, perhaps you’ll be more impressed to know that planning smaller scale events and get togethers are more than commonplace for those involved in K-Pop fandom.
The most common form of event for these fandoms is called a cupsleeve event. Fans collaborate with local boba shops and café businesses to host events dedicated to group anniversaries and member birthdays. The events consist of well planned out activities, music, and sometimes even more charity work from the fandom.
As someone who works as a volunteer to a host organization of these events myself, I can assure you that this is no small feat! Those who plan these events work strategically with local businesses and other fans in their respective communities in order to bring people together. The events aren’t just about the groups, but about the friendship and the bonding experiences. The best part of planning these events, according to the head of the organization I volunteer for, is seeing two people who wouldn’t otherwise interact become best friends at an event. This notion might sound familiar to RAs and hall directors who enjoy learning about the connections that residents formulate in their communities.
They Can Handle Logistics
If you still aren’t sure that K-Pop fans have what it takes to run a building, this might change your mind.
There are many K-Pop fans who act as group order managers (GOMs). One thing that differentiates the genre and industry from the Western market is its ability to move physical products and albums even in the age of the streaming service. Merchandise is a significant portion of what pulls audiences in and generates revenue. The problem here is that it can be difficult for international fans to get ahold of some of these merchandise items. Thus, the group order was born.
People who choose to take on the role of a GOM also take on a significant amount of responsibility. They coordinate large international orders and must account for product costs, shipping costs, customer information, and other varying complexities in the process. As a result, running a group order requires that GOMs keep track of the logistics of their operation utilizing intricate spreadsheets of information.
Anyone familiar with how to manage a building ledger?
But Most of All, They Care…
Being a hall director asks that an individual complete many tasks for the sake of their building. But perhaps more pertinent to the job than anything else is empathy and the ability to care for those in your building. From RAs to residents, hall directors often go out of their way to ensure the safety and well-being of their community. They are often very self-sacrificing individuals whose compassion and selflessness stretches beyond what is required of them.
At the concert that I attended, I had a trivial birthday disaster of ruined hair. I wasn’t the only one. In search of a solution, I turned to the Facebook group that I had been a part of exchanging ticket purchasing and venue information with for months on end. In doing so, I found that there was a strong sense of community support. One fan spent hours before the concert repairing the ruined hairstyles of various others in her own apartment. I myself was quickly added to a group chat of women asking what tools I needed that they could bring with them to the venue. In the rain, we all shared umbrellas and exchanged names, walking to events together and maintaining a safe environment. Overall, there was a sense of care there that I hadn’t expected to see.
I went on the trip to see a concert, but I found community instead.
Since my experience, I’ve dedicated myself to creating similar environments and experiences for other fans nearby, particularly those who are younger. In doing so, I find that there is a lot of crossover here. In true hall director fashion, my work and my life intertwine. I bring my newfound skills to my hobby, and I take what I learn in my hobby right back to my work in any way that I can.
In the end, we can all gain experience and hone our skills in new and exciting ways. How does that play out for you?