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In South Korea, K-Pop fans have something to cheer about

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In South Korea, concerts and sporting events came back this year with a caveat - to keep people from yelling coronaviruses into the air, no cheering was allowed.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

That meant baseball without crowds making noise or K-pop without fan chants.

KAYLA BALBA: I think originally, it was created by the fans to show the members and the group support during songs. But now a lot of groups actually do, like, fan chant guides so that you know exactly, like, what to say and when.

FLORIDO: That's Kayla Balba. K-pop fans like her have dedicated scripts they chant together during specific songs. Here's the BTS Army, the supporters of the band BTS, chanting each member's name at a concert.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE #1: (Chanting) Kim Nam-joon. Kim Seok-jin. Min Yoon-gi. Jung Ho-seok. Park Ji-min. Kim Tae-hyung. Jeon Jung-kook. BTS.

BALBA: And it's mostly so that, like, the fans can be involved in the performance but is also - it also contributes to the atmosphere of, like, the overall concerts.

SHAPIRO: Balba went to a few concerts earlier this year, and there was lots of clapping and noisemakers, but...

BALBA: It was like, absolutely no screaming, singing along or dancing or standing up.

SHAPIRO: Then this past weekend, she got tickets to see the boy band Stray Kids.

BALBA: So I just got to the venue, and so there's so much going on. Like, there's people taking pictures. There's people, like, running for freebies. It's, like, a whole free-for-all. And then there's people, like, trying to buy slogans and stuff. But other than that, there's just a lot of fans excited.

FLORIDO: Excited for merch and the music and one more thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE #2: (Chanting, inaudible).

FLORIDO: Masks are still required, but the screaming ban has been lifted, and so cheering is back in Korea.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHARMER")

STRAY KIDS: (Rapping in Korean).

(Rapping) I'm saucy, living in big Seoul city.

(Rapping in Korean). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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