articleK-Pop

The fandom community that has been built up solidly is closed overnight… NCSoft’s Universe, controversy over unilateral contract termination with THE BOYZ

K-pop fandom is like “little drops of water make the mighty ocean”.

It is no exaggeration to say that the K-pop fandom phenomenon that dominates the world is the result of the investment of teenage girls with pocket money they received from their parents.

Korea’s brilliant IT culture contributed to spreading the fandom culture to the world by adding technology to this fandom phenomenon. Starting from Naver V Live in the past, HYBE’s Weverse, SM·JYP’s Bubble and NCSoft’s Universe have established themselves as key digital playgrounds for “Generation Z” fans.

naver vlive

If first-generation idol fans listened to stars’ voices recorded in post office boxes through payphones, fourth-generation idol fans check stars’ daily lives and solidify the bond between fans through fandom communities. For fans, communities are a kind of “resting place”.

What would happen if such a space was blown up overnight? Recently, as the global fandom platform Universe (operated by NCSoft) unilaterally terminated their contract with THE BOYZ, fans lost their place to go. All the records and memories they have accumulated in the community have disappeared in an instant.

the boyz

According to a post uploaded on the fan cafe by THE BOYZ’s agency IST Entertainment on Oct 28th, IST had been continuously inquiring NCSoft about the renewal of the contract with Universe from a month before the expiration of the contract.

However, NCSoft announced the end of the service as of 6 PM on Oct 28th without a clear answer to IST as well as special consultation and guidance. The termination date is Nov 4th with a grace period of just one week.

ist entertainment announcement

IST said, “Universe announced ‘THE BOYZ’s private message service termination and Planet usage guide’ without prior consultation with our company, and we are currently grasping the situation.”

Universe is a global fandom platform ambitiously launched by NCSoft in January 2021. Fandoms of 32 artists, including Kang Daniel, MONSTA X and THE BOYZ, are nesting here. They achieved significant results, recording 20 million downloads within 10 months of launch.

theboyz

In the music industry, Universe’s unilateral contract termination is viewed as an atrocity of performance-oriented IT companies that failed to properly read the K-fandom culture. However, even if they failed to achieve results according to the logic of capital, there are growing voices about whether a certain grace period should be given for fans.

universe platform

In the industry, there is also a growing sense of crisis that NCSoft can end their Universe service as it is.

A music official pointed out, “As IT company NCSoft entered the industry without a deep understanding of the K-pop fandom, only innocent fans and artists who used it became embarrassed.”

Source: Daum

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