An obsessive admirer who chases or otherwise invades the privacy of Korean idols, drama actors, or other famous personalities is known in South Korean culture as a sasaeng, or sasaeng fan. The phrase “sasaeng,” which refers to fans’ intrusion into celebrities’ private lives, is derived from the Korean terms “sa-jeog,” which means “private,” and “saeng,” which means “life.” Popular Korean celebrities may have “between 500 and 1,000 sasaeng admirers,” and be actively followed by roughly 100 sasaeng fans per day, according to estimates of celebrity managers in the Korean media.
According to reports, Sasaeng followers are frequently female, between the ages of 13 and 22, and motivated to engage in behaviour that, in certain situations, may be borderline illegal in order to get the attention of superstars. Such behaviours include going after famous people at their residences or dorms, stealing their property or information, obstructing family members, and giving idols obscene presents like lingerie.
The obsessive, disruptive fan conduct that the name “sasaeng” indicates, while being much later created, first appeared in the 1990s with the growth of K-pop idol groups and “fandoms,” as highlighted by the local English-language daily Korea JoongAng Daily in 2001. Industry veterans and members of first generation K-pop bands like H.O.T. and g.o.d have described such fan behaviour prior to the internet era. Extreme and disruptive fan behaviour toward Korean idols and celebrities has also been observed abroad due to the quick expansion of the Korean popular culture sector and the international spread of the Hallyu trend in the 2000s and recent decades.
Some significant sasaeng activities have been motivated by this desire for individual acknowledgment from idols. One means of being remembered is physical attack. A sasaeng allegedly smacked Yoochun of the boy group JYJ in the face in 2012, defending her actions by asserting that the idol will undoubtedly remember her from that point forward.