K-Pop stars trade minor insults. Twitter explodes. 

Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula this week, and on Monday night those tensions spilled over. Luckily, in this case the weapons were tweets, sent by legions of fans of Korean K-Pop sensation Super Junior.

Monday’s internal spat between members of Korea’s enormously successful boy band took social media by storm, and for almost 5 hours #TeamYesung and #Team86동생들님 were trending in the top spots worldwide on Tuesday.

South Korean K-pop boy group Super Junior. Pic: AP.

The battle began innocently enough, with a photo. Yesung is the stage moniker of Kim Jong-Woon and one of the foremost members of Super Junior, themselves one of Korea’s biggest and most bankable male acts in Korea (and Asia). Yesung posted a rather dashing self-photo of himself complaining that ‘the weather is bad… it makes my body feel tired.’ This was responded to by some of his bandmates, a sub-set called the 86 liners, in vaguely negative ways.

The comments that followed Yesung’s initial photo were:

Eun Hyuk – Yes, your face also looks tired. That’s too bad.

Siwon –   Yes, it’s bad

Dong-Hae  –  Always taking ‘selcas’ (Self-Photos) from that same angle. Heh.

Siwon –     It’s too bad (again)

This rapid-fire of negative responses seemed to take Yesung by surprise and asked his band mates ‘did I do something wrong?’

A rather mild argument I think we all can agree, but still the Korean stars were soon trending first and second place in worldwide Twitter. If the initial confrontation had been brief, it was pursued with much more vigour by the ‘E.L.F.S’, the name for Super Juniors committed fan-base. Yesung was widely heralded by the ELFS as the king of the ‘Selcas’ (Self-photo), and was also praised by one fan as the ‘only one who can do the Octopus dance.’ In Team86동생들’s court, however, is the fact that they are apparently the more loveably ‘goofy’, and apparently ‘richer.’

Behind such light-heartedness, however, the immense viral power of K-Pop continues to show itself. The devotion the K-Pop inspires in its fans is the kind of love affair and mass attention that Korea struggles to achieve in other areas, and shows just why the Government are putting K-Pop front and center of their global promotional push. Super Junior themselves have been active in this area.

For the more conspiracy minded, there is perhaps a hint that the whole affair was a publicity stunt. It is no secret that the best way to shoot to the top of social media charts is to whip up a controversy. The Yesung vs 86ers affair has just the right level of confrontation to get tongues wagging without ever threatening to become a deep and lasting controversy. It started as a storm in a very small teacup, but later brought untold free publicity (of which I suppose I am now complicit) to the band. Their record label SM Entertainment were certainly pleased, boasting that the two had now been trending worldwide for ‘3 hours.’ There has been no further comment from any of those involved.

Regardless of how or why this spat started it seems Super Junior, SM, and Korea are all benefiting.