Chile's K-pop President

Korean pop music has been a mobilizing force for popular movements in Chile and beyond.

Chile's K-pop President

Photo: Gabriel Boric with K-pop photo cards.  Credit: Twitter Account of Gabriel Boric.

The victory by 35-year-old Gabriel Boric in Chile’s presidential election held on December 20, 2021, had an unexpected connection with South Korea: the president-elect is a big K-pop fan. Shortly after his election, social media went abuzz with a photo of Boric making a “finger heart” gesture while holding up the photo cards of Han from Stray Kids and Jeongyeon from TWICE, the popular K-pop idol groups.

The popular leftist Boric’s connection with K-pop is more than a personal preference. The recent protest movements that culminated in Boric’s election was in part organized by Chilean K-pop fans, to a point that in December 2019, Chile’s Interior Ministry blamed the protests and civil unrest on “international influences and media” including K-pop, which was labeled as an agent of “social rupture.”

In recent years, K-pop has evolved into a vehicle for democracy and social justice movements around the world, with the young K-pop fans utilizing their supreme skills in spontaneous mobilization and online buzz creation to disrupt Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma and organize pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong, Thailand, Myanmar, Colombia, Peru, etc.

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