Introduction: The Power of Nine
Girls' Generation (also known as So Nyeo Shi Dae (Korean) or SNSD, and Shojo Jidai (Japanese)), a nine-member female group that debuted under SM Entertaiment in 2007, includes members Taeyeon, Jessica, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona and Seohyun. Members Jessica, Sunny and Tiffany were born in the United States.
SNSD debuted in the wake of another large SM Entertainment group, Super Junior, and some initially viewed them as the femlae counterpart to the large male group. Girls' Generation has become the prototype of a K-pop idol girl group, extending the models found in first-generation girl groups such as Fin.K.L and S.E.S. In addition to producing music, the members have participated in Korean television shows such as We Got Married, Star Golden Bell, and Show! Music Core, as well as promotions and endorsements. They are one of the most popular K-pop girl groups with a solid record of selling music and garnering fans within and outside Korea. The group raised eyebrows when they won "Video of the Year" at the first-ever YouTube Music Awards for "I Got A Boy."
Because of what some view as a focus on appearance and an relentlessly upbeat personality, some criticize the group for lacking variety. Ree notes: "it seems like girl groups are limited in what concepts they can explore and grow into. SNSD is probably the best example of this, where they can’t make a comeback that’s too ‘in your face’ and ‘fierce’ without it looking contrived." Ree goes on to voice another criticism of the group, namely, the lack of female empowerment: "The largest criticism towards SNSD. . . has always been how they’ve portrayed women as ‘submissive’ and ‘second to men’ in their promotions" (seoulbeats).
Nevertheless, the group boasts one of the most active and well-organized global fandoms with fans who document the activities of the group as well as engage in philanthropic activities in the name of the group. This case study explores SNSD fans and their activities. SONES, or fans of SNSD, like the group for a variety of reasons, including the group's music, appearance and individual members. Yet, there are some fans who are describe themselves as "not fans." SONES well-organized websites provide fans with information about the group, images, video and forums for discussion. Site administrators also participate in philanthropic activities. SONEs also administer a variety of Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and Tumblrs, both in English and in other languages. SONEs can be found in a variety of countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Spain, Colombia, Italy, Poland and Venezuela. SONEs not only view videos and listen to the songs of SNSD, they perform the choreography and cover their favorite songs.