Within the community, Monster and other group’s fans who had hostility towards the suddenly incredibly popular KK systematically gathered and had sprung into action.
They were purposely giving all the votes to the group that was least likely to win among the nominees for Rookie of the Year award and K-POP STAR award.
“Wow, they even organized when to vote?”
“Based on the usernames, they’re Monster fans…I wonder why.”
Jung Yoon Ki muttered as if saying it made no sense at all. Monster and KK were not rivals. If anything, you could say they had a bond because they were part of the same agency.
However, there was a reason Monster fans were at the center of anti-KK activities.
Monster fans had been unsatisfied with HIT Entertainment since KK’s debut. Events for Monster kept getting pushed back because of the new group KK. The fans felt the agency was focusing all their attention on KK only while Monster was taking the backseat.
It was true that HIT Entertainment, who took care the two groups Milky Way and Monster, got overwhelmed when they added another group to care for. They also focused on KK rather than Monster, who had somewhat stagnated in their place and had difficulty climbing higher.
That being said, the reason the plans for Monster’s album was pushed back was because they couldn’t find a song all the members could be satisfied with, not solely because HIT Entertainment considered Monster as put on the backburner.
However, fans of Monster were already gunning for HIT Entertainment.
What added fuel to the fire was the content of the interview with HIT Entertainment’s president that was conducted by an economic magazine.
‘HIT Entertainment has recently had surprising growth unlike ever before. Part of that is thanks to KK doing well. Of course the goal is to go public*. To become public, the agency’s singers would have to succeed.’
(TL note: To become a publicly traded stock)
‘We’re racking our brains over how to grow KK to be the top rookie. It’s exhausting, but it’s a fun exhaustion, not a bad exhaustion. KK is potential, embodiment of potential itself.’
Monster fans were enraged that on top of there not having been a single mention of Monster, he had said they’d focus on growing KK from here on out.
Before KK came around, the groups that led HIT Entertainment were Milky Way and Monster. The opinion formed by Monster fans was that they were treating Monster poorly even though the reason they were even able to create KK was thanks to the money Monster earned.
The complaints toward the agency also spread to KK as a group because a few of the products KK recently modeled for were advertisements Monster had modeled in previously.
“Are they saying we pushed Monster out of the spotlight?!”
Jung Yoon Ki put his hands on his forehead like he had a headache.
“They’re also saying this.”
“This is really unfair!”
On the screen Do Wook turned on was a rumor about Monster and KK’s relationship.
It said KK members were letting their sudden rise to fame get to their head, and that since the company was pampering them they weren’t even properly greeting their senior, Monster.
‘It’s definitely not something for us to get this much backlash over. But…’
Monster’s popularity inevitably dropped as more and more years passed by since their debut.* It wasn’t just the idols who felt things were going downhill. The fans felt the same too. In fact, there were many times where the fans were more sensitive to it.
(TL & PR note: i.e. the novelty was wearing off, they were becoming old news)
Monster’s decreasing popularity wasn’t anyone’s fault, but the fans’ anger, which had nowhere to go, settled on a target and got stronger once it focused on one place.
‘You can try to understand it, but it’s irrational anyways. It’s a matter of how it gets resolved.’
Feeling wronged, Jung Yoon Ki said with a frown.
“Shouldn’t we at least tell Baek Ho so we can somehow clarify things or something?”
“The Fan-Marketing Team monitors things so they probably already know about it. Trying to explain things might just make it blow up.”
“Yes. It also doesn’t make much sense for the company to step in over a behind-the-scenes fan battle like this.”
Jung Yoon Ki nodded his head at what Do Wook said as if saying he understood. However, his expression didn’t lighten up.
He felt wronged, but he was also worried about the voting. Even if it shouldn’t affect the Rookie of the Year award much, you never knew.
He didn’t want to unjustly lose the K-POP STAR award as well to a crooked voting like this.
‘It also definitely doesn’t look good for the celebrity or agency in question to get involved in a fight between fans. We have to hope that it’ll get resolved naturally…’
The KK members, who had arrived in Korea, first rested at the dormitory. While the members were resting at the dorm, Do Wook went to the HIT Entertainment office.
There were two large whiteboards hanging inside the office.
Written on one of the white boards was the overall plan for the year. The board had January to December on it with Milky Way, Monster, and KK’s planned events marked in three different colors: black, red, and blue.
The other whiteboard had the schedule for the month.
KK’s 3 days of events in Japan was also meticulously written in blue.
Do Wook quickly checked Monster’s schedule that was written in red. Today and tomorrow they had a music broadcast, and 2 days later they had a radio appearance at 8 pm. After that, they had nothing particularly scheduled yet.
Do Wook grabbed his phone and checked the live voting status again.
‘There’s still time left for the voting and the gap is small enough to turn the tides.’
KK fans, who had assumed it’d be a fight for 1st place with M2M, were overshadowed by the alliance between fans of Monster and other groups and were belatedly gathering support and voting.
However, they were still losing for now. Numbers aside, KK was more of a popular group than a group with a strong fandom. Even if they had a large number of fans, it was a new fandom.
It was hard to beat the unity of Monsters fans, who had been gathered and active together for years, and were engulfed in anger.
‘Still, if only for the sake of the future, it is necessary to quell the Monster fans to an extent…while not overdoing it. In a natural way…’
One of the male employees noticed Do Wook, who was staring intently at the whiteboard, and greeted him. Do Wook greeted him back.
“Was there something you needed?”
“No. I just had to verify something. I’ll be taking my leave then.”
Two days later.
Monster headed towards the broadcast station for a radio appearance. It was a radio program a lot of young people listened to since it was at the 8 pm slot so the DJ was an idol-level DJ and idols typically came on as guests.
Monster was scheduled to appear as the guest star today for the segment called < Focus Quest >.
As the title suggested, the purpose of the segment was to take a deep dive into the subject of their guests. They usually collected questions people had for the guests and got answers to them.
The radio segment didn’t have a lot of listeners since it was full of information one wouldn’t be interested in, unless for promoting an album or as a fan, but it was this segment that the idol fans enjoyed the most.
As they waited for the segment to start at 8:30, the members of Monster were sitting in the waiting area outside of the booth.
“Take care of your cell phone. And don’t mess up on the live broadcast.”
Monster’s road manager was a new manager who was barely 21 years old. Reminded by the manager, Kwon Ji Hyung took his cell phone out of his pocket.
Thankfully the cell phone was on vibrate. He was going to put it back after checking, but he received a message notification.
[Hyung*, it’s been a while. This is the playlist you mentioned last time.]
(TL note: Hyung is how males address older males)
It was a message from ‘Hubae* Kang Do Wook’. When Kwon Ji Hyung recently met Do Wook at Yong Soo Chul’s studio, he had asked Do Wook for a list of song recommendations. It was because Do Wook knew a lot of foreign songs that he didn’t know about.
(TL note: Hubae is one’s junior at school, work, etc.)
Below the message there were ten or so links to the recommended songs.
Kwon Ji Hyung was thankful that Do Wook had remembered and looked into it when he had just asked in passing.
‘His good manners didn’t change even though he’s successful. He’s not lacking in any way.’
Kwon Ji Hyung wrote a reply as he looked at the links.
[Thank you for looking into it when you’re probably busy too. I’m at an event right now, I’ll contact you when I’m done.]
[Ok! Good luck at your event!]
At that moment, the radio staff called the Monster members into the booth. Kwon Ji Hyung was in a good mood as he sat in his seat.
With the introduction of the Monster members, the segment went into full swing.
There were many questions asking how the members have been doing and asking about future activities in the works. The Monster members answered them one by one in detail. They were a midsize group among idols now, so you could feel how comfortable they were answering each question.
“We also received this question. ‘Moonlight Love’ has a completely different vibe than your previous songs…what was your active period for it like?”
“We were very worried because it was something new for us too, but it was received well, so we had fun. It didn’t have any choreography however, so our bodies were itching to move.”
One of the Monster members playfully answered the DJ’s question. The microphone was passed to Kwon Ji Hyung next.
“I’m saying this since the topic of ‘Moonlight Love’ was brought up. Our fans really liked the lyrics a lot. The person who introduced the lyricist Kim Soom to us was Do Wook.”
“Do you mean KK’s Kang Do Wook?”
“Yes. He helped a lot in making ‘Moonlight Love’. In developing the album too.”
“Ah! KK and Monster are from the same agency, right? You must be close with Kang Do Wook.”
“We became close because we ran into each other at the studio a lot. I have a lot to learn from him even though he’s my hubae, and he’s a very good friend.”
Do Wook’s name was ingrained into Kwon Ji Hyung’s brain because of the message he just received from Do Wook. The things he had to thank Do Wook for that he was thinking of right before the live broadcast were pouring out.
(TL note: I just had to chime in here and say dang…well played, Do Wook. Well played.)
The topic of KK was brought up casually.
Another member of Monster stepped up and talked about KK. It was a member who was famous for being straightforward on top of having a rough personality and way of speaking.
“They’re all very nice! When we see them once in a while, they bow multiple times…Ah, I’m saying they’re kind.”
“Haha! You mean they’re that diligent when greeting you, right?”
“There’s usually at least one rude member…terrible personality and rotten. But they don’t have anyone like that.”
It was a member who the company didn’t even allow to talk when they were rookies. However, he was now in his mid-twenties. They were able to write it off as brash word choice, and the fans understood it as his sense of humor.
“I see. That’s true, I had met them before and they all seemed easy-going.”
The topic of KK wrapped up on a friendly note, and they moved on to the next topic.
The Monster fans who were listening to the broadcast were confused.
There were people who thought the company was forcing them to praise KK, but they knew the Monster members’ personalities better than anyone to know that that wasn’t the case.
It wasn’t certain for Kwon Ji Hyung, but the other members would never say those things just because the company was making them do it. It was also too natural. It was a ‘visual radio’ so their expressions were being broadcasted live. Their expressions were definitely sincere.
People were starting to think that they shouldn’t protest against KK, but protest against the company instead.
And so, the Monster fans who were trying to vent their anger by messing up the votes for KK started to disband.
At that time, Do Wook and the KK members were at the site of the concert hosted by L Duty-free Shop.
Jamshil Main Stadium: it was the largest location in the nation to have a concert at.
The KK members couldn’t help but be overwhelmed as they looked at the various lights shining everywhere. It was also true when they performed at the dome in Japan, but this time it was domestic.
KK was no longer first in line to perform. They were third to last.
The order was KK, M2M, then Sa Bang Shin Hwa*.
(TL note: SBSH is the Ara Entertainment group mentioned in Ch 43 and the previous winners of the Rookie of the Year award.)
The sound from the stage was so loud that it could be heard from inside the waiting room. People’s hearts were beating to the loud sound of the bass.
‘I guess Kwon Ji said something after all. The Monster fans’ opinion was split, they won’t be able to vote as they have been. That’s as far as disliking someone can go. Although, from now on, we’ll only win the votes if we have lots of genuine fans.’
Do Wook thought as he checked his phone. Over the last two days, Do Wook went on the radio program’s forum and submitted questions related to ‘Moonlight Love’ whenever he had time.
He planned to have Kwon Ji mention him if ‘Moonlight Love’ came up in the conversation.
Honestly, he had a backup plan even if they weren’t mentioned on the radio this time. However, it was a relief that the Monster fans started to rethink their opinion on KK before he got to the second option.
As he stood in the hallway, Do Wook started to warm up his voice for today’s live performance. The other members were warming up their bodies and relieving their anxieties in their own ways in the waiting room.
It was almost time for their performance. They had cheering fans to look forward to.
At that moment, a group of backup dancers passed by in the hallway. By the looks of the outfits, they were a group of M2M backup dancers. In that group was Jo Jung Min.
Jo Jung Min saw Do Wook and stopped.
“Long time no see.”