Ben&Ben announces — then retracts — name of fan group

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After learning its first choice was also a K-pop fandom name, it chose the name Liwanag

FOLK-POP outfit Ben&Ben has finally settled on what to name its fandom after several back and forths. This came after announcing then retracting the original name, Lights, on the same day, Sept. 3, after realizing that Lights was already an existing K-pop fandom name.

The new name, Liwanag, the Filipino term for “light,” still carries the band’s message that Ben&Ben and their fans “can be bearers of hope in these dark times,” according to a press release.

“Fandom” is the term used today in place of the old-fashioned “fans club.”

Ben&Ben is a nine-piece OPM band known for hit songs such as “Pagtingin” and “Maybe the Night,” among others. The band recently started a weekly YouTube show called BBTV with its first episode uploaded on Aug. 5. The first episode showed the band talking about their love for K-Pop.

“Liwanag is the new, official fandom name of Ben&Ben! We have heard your suggestions. We want to honor our Filipino heritage, at higit sa lahat, kayo ang Liwanag namin (and more than anything else, you are our Liwanag),” the band announced on Sept. 4.

Lights is the fandom name of Highlight, a South Korean boy group which originally debuted under the name Beast in 2009 and continued as Highlight in 2017. The group is currently inactive as its members are in various stages of completing their country’s mandatory military service.

Upon Ben&Ben’s announcement of Lights as its fandom name, fans of Highlight took to Twitter to inform the band that there was already a fandom with the same name.

“Highlight announced their official fandom name ‘Light’ more than three years ago. You should know how important fandom names are in K-pop culture, so please do consider choosing another fandom name,” Twitter user @seoblicious posted as a reply on Ben&Ben’s announcement.

The World of Fandoms

K-pop, a genre of Korean pop music that is currently taking the world by storm, has some of the most dedicated fans in the world, with fandom names serving as an extension of their fan identities: top Korean boy group BTS, whose latest single “Dynamite” debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 (the first South Korean group to do so), has ARMY as its fandom name, girl group BlackPink’s fandom is named Blinks, another top boy group, EXO, has EXO-Ls, and girl group Twice has ONCEs.

People who saw the rise of K-pop during the early 2010s will remember — or may still be part of — the fandoms of Girls Generation (SONE), Super Junior (ELF), Big Bang (VIP), and 2NE1 (BlackJacks), among many others.

Many fandom names are abbreviations like BTS’ ARMY which stands for “Adorable Representative MC for Youth” (note that BTS stands for “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”), Super Junior’s ELF stands for “Everlasting Friends,” etc.

Most fans belonging to a fandom will identify themselves as such and entertainment companies have started trademarking fandom names and logos, as in the case of SM Entertainment under whose umbrella are EXO, Super Junior, and Girls Generation, and Big Hit Entertainment’s BTS, among others.

After informing Ben&Ben of the existing K-pop fandom name, the band immediately retracted the name Lights and apologized for the confusion it generated.

“Hello. We have decided to suspend our fandom name ‘Lights’ until further notice, as many have informed us that there is already an existing K-pop fandom with the same name. We apologize for the confusion and dismay that this has caused to the parties involved,” the nine-piece band said in a Twitter post, before adding that they did not “realize that it may cause trouble being that Ben&Ben is an OPM band from the Philippines.”

“We hold high respect for K-pop culture and K-pop fandoms,” the band said.

“Thank you for listening to LIGHTs @BenAndBenMusic. Hopefully, you will find a better fandom name that will suit you and your fans and please continue to make high quality music,” a Twitter account named @HIGHLIGHT_PH said in response to the retraction. — Zarlene B. Chua

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