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What is the Black Ocean in K-pop? 3 Fearsome Instances Featuring BTS, Seventeen and Twice

K-pop has various things which makes it different from other music industries. Not only is the music different, but the people involved in it are too. Consequently, the way K-pop fans show their love is different too. In contrast, fans also have a grave method of doing the opposite; a phenomenon called ‘black ocean’.

The K-pop fandom has a unique manner of supporting and celebrating their idols. Among them are banners, light signs, photo fans and even their costumes.

But the most common yet heart-touching is the use of lights ticks. The lights tick is a uniquely designed tool which fans wave for their idols, a silent but bright way to show their support.

Ocean of Light

Light sticks are important to both the idols and fans to show their love, adoration and appreciation for each other and they are now synonymous with K-pop concerts.

If the presence of the lights ticks or even the flashlight of the fans’ mobile phones shows support, their absence indicates the opposite. The absence of light plunges the venue and the idol’s hearts in the dark and gloomy ocean called “The Black Ocean”.

What is black ocean in K-pop?

Black oceans are the worst nightmares for idols. The use of lightstick shows encouragement for them but the lack of them completely shatters their confidence. The darkness which envelopes the venue stemming from the absence of light sticks or flashlights indicates that something is putting the audience off.

This is really disheartening and is often caused due to conflicts between fandoms. They are also considered as a “negative marking” for the idols as it is considered to be a failure for them.

ALSO READ: What is FOTG in K-pop?

Infamous instances of the Black Ocean with BTS, TWICE and Seventeen

SEVENTEEN at 2015 MAMA Awards

During Seventeen’s rookie era, they had first hand experience with the black ocean while performing “Mansae” at the 2015 MAMA Awards.

This was caused by fans of other idols and hence, the venue of the event was completely black and dark while they were performing. Unfortunately, since their fans, CARATS, did not have any light sticks, they could not show their support and prevent the black ocean.

BTS at the 2016 MelOn Music Awards

BTS is one of the most popular and influential K-pop bands in the world, not to mention they are passionately loved even by non K-pop fans. But in the early days, when they were not so popular, they were unfortunate enough to experience the black ocean.

This happened during the 2016 MelOn Music Awards. The conflict between the EXO and the BTS fandom was responsible for this and even though EXO-Ls turned off their light sticks, ARMY kept theirs on to motivate BTS and show them their support.

When the EXO-Ls were asked why they did this, the consensus was that ARMY does the same and they just reciprocated.


The much loved girl group TWICE has played a significant part in boosting the popularity of K-pop girl groups not just in Korea but across the globe. But even they are no strangers to the fearsome black ocean. Even though ARMY lighted up their sticks to show support, it wasn’t enough and hence, TWICE had their black ocean.

Is black ocean toxic?

While many consider this method as ‘toxic’, others say it gives fandoms a chance to express their dissatisfaction. Clearly, however, fandoms tend to do this at award events to show their dissatisfaction for other fandoms and bands other than the ones they support.

Be it toxic or not, though, there is no doubt that bands and idols have a deep fear of facing this eerie situation.

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