The typical K-pop fan is Asian, a woman and under 24 years old, but there are also millions who don’t fit into those demographic categories.
According to the Korea Foundation, which tracks fans of South Korean entertainment, 99.3 million people across the globe were formally associated with fan clubs relating to South Korean pop culture — predominantly K-pop and Korean TV dramas — in 2019, up from around 9 million in 2013. While the majority of those fans, just under 72 million, are based in Asia and Oceania, the foundation’s data says that fan bases in Europe number 15.5 million and 12.2 million in the Americas.
Data from the organizers of KCON USA, a bi-coastal annual event that blends K-culture-oriented conventions and K-pop concerts, sheds some light on the makeup of K-pop’s U.S.-based fans. Of the 158,000 individuals who attended the convention in New York or Los Angeles, 70% were women and 19% were men; 40% were Asian, although only 10% of that demographic were of Korean descent. (The majority were Chinese, Filipino or Vietnamese.) The audience was 23% Latin or Hispanic, 21% white and 7% black.
Although K-pop fans are often perceived to be predominantly teens and tweens, only 15% of KCON’s attendees were under 17-years-old. Convention goers who were 18-24 years old comprised 54% of the crowd, followed by 25-34 year-olds at 22%. Nine percent of the attendees were older than 35.
The costs associated with attending KCON may have attracted in an older crowd with more disposable income, but an online survey of approximately 3,300 U.S. residents that was conducted by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) came up with similar results. The survey revealed that 63.8% of the stateside K-pop audience are older than 16, with the majority of them being in their late teens and 20s across a wide range of ethnicities.