I wish I had a good answer to this question. Part of the problem is the level of knowledge of people in the conversation — after I started using Twitter I realized you can productively say the same thing again and again because there are new people listening.
However, when there are so many beginners (new to BTS fandom, new to K-pop, new to Korea, new to media analysis, new to a more transnational or global framework), this also means we have a lot of very basic conversations and very few deep conversations. To have deeper and more difficult conversations, you have to be ready for them (like the conversations in Korean by people who have a more comprehensive knowledge of Korean culture, history, and the evolution of K-pop over the years, or the conversations in academic spaces where you have to keep your tone collegial), but you can’t post something on the internet publicly without people who aren’t ready for that conversation also having access to it. The anonymity of the internet is also an issue — people don’t always try to be kind in their responses. I think we need a new type of platform, or at least one I am not familiar with, to emerge, because right now the only comfortable way to have in-depth and critical conversations on these topics is face-to-face.
“From your perspective, what type of discourse, if any, do you see having the potential to achieve a positive (growth-minded) outcome regarding this topic?”
When some fans insist that BTS is not K-pop, this is disrespecting and undermining other artists that I also care about. Fans need to realize that for BTS to do as well as possible, the entire industry needs to be healthy. Instead of using fan energy to try to drive a wedge between BTS and the rest of idol K-pop, I’d much rather see fan energy directed to supporting a healthier industry for everyone.
You know how some sports teams have one player like Messi who earns five times or ten times more than some of his teammates? BTS is like the Messi of team K-pop. Of course both Messi and BTS earned their phenomenal positions, but let’s make it so that the whole team is doing well, not just the biggest star. If we do that, everyone can be lifted up. BTS fans dislike having BTS associated with scandals from other companies. However, instead of thinking only about BTS and separating their image from that of K-pop (which is impossible), those fans could help to improve the industry. Can’t ARMY spare a few minutes from their BTS fandom to advocate for a healthier industry that would support all the young people with dreams — including a group that could be your future second favorite (after BTS, of course)?
Fans also need to be careful about cultural differences and not try to “fix” something that is not wrong, only different. To understand better, fans really need to study about Korea. I know that many are, but there are new fans every day, and I hope that fan culture continues to encourage new fans to become better educated instead of imposing outsider positions onto Korean artists. The Korean language, history, culture — learn all of it. Learning is an ongoing process and it can be uncomfortable or hard, but from my perspective there are huge benefits to keeping at it. Korea is constantly changing. People need to adjust their perceptions as Korea continues to change and evolve — often journalists’ mistakes that frustrate fans are because journalists don’t realize how much the industry has changed even in a few years. Likewise fans need to beware of reading or watching outdated information and interpretations and to keep studying.