Back in 2021, the international K-Pop sensation BTS did a promotional photo shoot for their hit single "Butter" that took place at a Korean beach called Maengbang. The site of the shoot has since become a sort of holy landmark in the K-Pop world, with many BTS fans making pilgrimages to the sacred location. But with a massive new coal plant under construction just a few miles away from the beach, those same fans are now concerned that the pollution might sully their sacred land.
So naturally, they've joined the fight for environmental justice, staging a massive protest at the beach to resist the continued development of the coal plant. From Bloomberg:
"K-pop fans are sincerely concerned, not only because our precious spot is getting destroyed," said Lee Da-yeon, a 20-year-old English literature student who was part of the recent protest. "When we come together as a global legion of K-pop fans, we believe we have the power and influence to tackle the most devastating issue of our time — climate change."
Protest group Kpop4planet launched the "Save the Butter Beach" campaign in 2021 with nonprofit Korea Beyond Coal, aiming to harness the immense influence that K-pop enthusiasts have been known to wield online. While the demonstrations are unlikely to halt the new coal-fired plant in Samcheok, Gangwon province, the fans' advocacy is highlighting concerns over President Yoon Suk Yeol's approach to climate change.
Partnering with K-pop fans has already proven to be effective in augmenting its anti-coal message, said Korea Beyond Coal.
"Having the K-pop fans on board took the campaign to the next level because they belong to one of the biggest, most organized and fastest groups on the internet," said Bae Yeojin, a campaigner at the organization. "This was really the first time ever since we've attracted any global attention to a local matter." A joint 2021 petition by the group and Kpop4planet garnered about 50,000 signatures, which Bae said was "incredibly high" for a local climate campaign.
An unexpected twist on "my enemy's enemy is my friend," but hey, I'll take it.