Before the days of 4K video, live-streaming, social media that non-Koreans could access, and more, K-Pop fans from the early 2000s had it rough. Here’s what it was like!
1. The internet was significantly slower than today, so there was lots of buffering while attempting to stream video, especially on mobile devices.
It was so bad, that some of the first Korean words people learned were “currently loading” or “currently buffering”.
2. Rather than wasting time on streaming, it was easier to download shows and performances while you were at work or school and watch them later.
Because of the slow internet speeds then, it would take hours to download just one episode of a show. Hence, the necessity of letting things download while out of the house.
3. Fans even learned how to use Korean file download software like Clubbox to get access to videos faster.
3. To make downloads go faster, they would download several parts of one show or performance from websites like Megaupload or Mediafire.
Then, the parts had to be joined together with another program, like HJ Split.
4. Stars used Cyworld, one of the first social network tools, which you could only join if you had a Korean resident registration number.
2PM’s Junsu commented on G-Dragon’s Cyworld, wishing him a happy birthday.
They also made certain parts of their “minihompi” (mini homepage) only available to their “ilchon” or accepted followers.
To just see their social media content was a privilige, much less comment or reply.
5. There was no such thing as 1080p or 4K, most videos were uploaded in 360p or 480p if the fandom was lucky.
6. Many Korean channels didn’t have official YouTube accounts and would try to copyright claim all videos of their shows off YouTube.
As a result, fan-organized subbing teams had to use weird symbols in the titles to hide the videos from copyright infringement.
They also had to upload videos in small parts because of file size limits.
7. Fansite pictures had to be found on Korean forums or on fansite master’s websites — hence the reason why they are called fan “site” masters.
To get to the pictures you wanted, you had to be able to at least read Korean.
8. When it came to live streaming, many fans used a program like TVAnts to watch Korean channels live.
Software like TVants was riddled with viruses and also broadcasted in very low quality.
9. To get music files, songs had to be ripped from the actual CD and then uploaded to locked down international forums.
None of this iTunes or Spotify nonsense.
10. Rejoicing when K-Pop stars joined Korean social media sites like me2day or UFO Town.
Even though most fans had to wait until the contents were translated into other languages and got posted onto international forums, it was a happy time as idols were finally communicating with fans online.