‘Transatlantic connection’: K-pop and K-drama fandom in Spain and Latin America
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The global circulation of Asian cultural products has been on a constant rise since the 1990s. However, the arrival to Spanish-speaking audiences is a more recent phenomenon, one that is linked to the consolidation of web-based tools for consumption, distribution and discussion of cultural artefacts. The different stages in which Hallyu, or the ‘Korean Wave’, reached different countries determined the intensity of scholarly interest in the phenomenon. If the research gap between Asia and Europe is wide, the later arrival to Spain and Latin America means that studies on the reception of Korean popular culture, including those dealing with fandom, are quasi-non-existent. This article is a first attempt at mapping the demographics of K-pop and K-drama fans in the Spanish-speaking world, through an analysis of an online survey. Drawing from the uses and gratifications approach in mass communication research, we discuss fans’ appropriation of K-pop, describe their shared iconography and analyse the peculiarities of male fans by studying their self-narratives. We conclude with a discussion on the need for studies of fandom to transcend national boundaries as exemplified by the advent of a ‘transatlantic connection’ linking fans in Spain and in Latin America via South Korea.