Cop26, one of the world’s largest climate change conferences is taking place in Glasgow. Thousands of politicians, business people and activists gather to find solutions to one of the biggest problems facing the world: climate change. However, during the conference, there was much criticism that countries in the Global South as well as grassroots activists were being sidelined.
There are many organisations and activists around the world doing the work while politicians and business leaders continue talking. One such platform is Kpop4Planet which launched in March 2021. The Daily Vox team spoke to the organiser of the platform, Nurul Sarifah.
Sarifah is an EXO-L, a fan of the group EXO. She is the organiser of the platform, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. “Kpop4Planet is a platform that we created for those who enjoy K-pop music (or other aspects of Korean culture) and also have a desire to fight for climate justice together,” she said.
Sarifah said they hope to harness the activism at the heart of many K-pop fan culture to “drive governments and corporations to take action and be more ambitious in tackling the climate crisis”. The K-pop industry is a multi-billion dollar industry based in South Korea. However, the K-pop groups that make up the industry have millions of fans around the world. Those fans have immense buying power in terms of album and merchandise sales.
Fans of many K-pop groups are also known to be quite socially conscious. During the 2020, global #BlackLivesMatter movement, fans of the group BTS, ARMY raised almost $1million for the movement. Closer to home, in 2018, South African EXO-Ls planted 40 trees in EXO’s name.
Sarifah said many of these social movements are only known between fans. With the platform, she and the others involved wanted to increase the reach these movements got. “That’s why we started this platform in the hope it’ll help other people see it from a different perspective and break the stereotype of K-Pop fans,” she said.
In the leadup to COP26, one of the biggest K-pop girl groups, BLACKPINK released a video encouraging fans to take climate action.
For Sarifah, the climate crisis is very important. “Our generation is the one that is facing the climate crisis and solidarity beyond all borders is very important because this kind of collective action is desperately needed for the climate crisis,” she said. She believes that if millions of fans around the world “unite for the planet, we will be the strongest voice in the climate community”.
Kpop4Planet is not only about fans coming together to raise their voices. It is also about calling on the entertainment industry which their favourite groups are a part of. One of their campaigns is called “No K-POP on a Dead Planet”. It is calling for action from the K-POP entertainment company on the climate crisis. The platform has put together several recommendations for entertainment companies. These range from minimising their plastic use and consumption in producing goods to using low carbon options for concerts and tours. “Artists can also be a powerful tool to amplify the climate emergency message using their music,” said Sarifah.
As of November 2, over 12000 fans have signed onto the platform’s campaigns. One of their petitions is asking for the stop to the construction of a coal plant near the beach where the album cover for BTS’ Billboard No. 1 hit “Butter” was shot. The other is asking Tokopedia, a top Indonesian e-commerce company, to adopt renewable energy by 2030.
“By announcing their climate action, we believe the companies will create a big impact to encourage fans and idols joining the climate action for a positive change towards a sustainable K-POP industry,” she said.
While no entertainment companies have come on board as yet, there are several fandoms who have joined. These include Carat, EXO-L, ARMY, STAY, Fantasy, Moa, BLINK, My Day, ELF, NCTzen, Monbebe, Shawol, Melody, and others.
Sarifah said while the threat of the pandemic may be dying down in some areas, the climate crisis is looming as the next global catastrophe. The platform is going to be focusing on raising awareness among the K-Pop community. “With the global fan’s force, ultimately, we want to campaign asking the government, business, and ourselves as global citizens to take more advanced action, not limiting us to talk about the entertainment industry,” she said.
Ultimately, they want to demand more sustainable practices from the K-Pop industry so that “we can enjoy our faves for longer on a healthier, greener planet”.