What was once BTS' official fan community app has grown exponentially.
K-pop lovers, if you’re not already familiar with HYBE’s fan community app, Weverse, prepare to be blown away. The platform has changed the way people connect with others online by making it easier for fans to message each other regardless of which country they’re from. Before, most K-pop artists would use a Korean forum called fancafe to communicate and share exclusive content with fans. But fancafe is run by a third-party web portal called DAUM that’s not particularly easy for international fans to access or use (which is understandable, considering DAUM is a Korean company and has no obligation to cater to international fans). Considering how so many K-pop stars have found success overseas, it’s no wonder HYBE announced in June 2019 it would launch an app to bridge the gap between international and Korean fans. A lot has changed on the site since then, so if you’re wondering what is Weverse like today, let me explain.
Before I get into the details surrounding the current app, here’s some history about how the idea for Weverse began. It all stemmed from BTS’ DAUM fancafe, which is a beloved corner of the internet where K-pop fans can see exclusive content from their faves and communicate with others in their fandom. The only hiccup with the forum is its content is exclusively in Korean, which made it very hard for international fans to get involved. International ARMYs still did what they had to, writing up tutorials on how to register and use the site in other languages so others could at least see the exclusive content artists were posting. But with the language barrier, there was only so far non-Korean-speaking international fans’ involvement could go.
Enter TXT, HYBE's newest boy band. ARMYs were surprised when, on Feb. 1, 2019, before TXT even debuted in March 2019, HYBE announced their official fan community was launching via a non-DAUM-affiliated website called TXTUniverse.com. ARMYs were curious (read: really, really disappointed) why, despite ARMYs begging for a more international-fan-friendly environment for ARMYs for years, HYBE launched one for TXT before BTS. But once HYBE launched Weverse in June 2019, it became clear TXT's international web community and, before that, BTS' ARMYpedia were all part of a master plan.
If you look under the hood of TXTUniverse and ARMYpedia, they were both developed by BeNX, HYBE's online application development subsidiary focused on creating services to maximize online and offline experiences for fans around the globe. They also developed the Weverse companion app, Weverse Shop (formerly Weply), BTS and TXT's official merch store.
As soon as BeNX launched the Weverse app, TXTUniverse.com closed down, directing all TXT fans to download the Weverse app, a move that suggested BeNX (aka, HYBE) was testing out their new fan community technology on a smaller fandom and smaller pocket of BTS' fans before they officially launched the app for BTS' massive international fanbase (which was smart, considering BTS' Weverse portal already had well over 4 million registered users after less than a year).
Now that you have all the background info on the history of HYBE’s fan communities, here's what you can do on their official Weverse app. Put simply, it allows fans to connect with other fans around the world, the members of bands themselves, and, much like fancafe, allows them to enjoy exclusive content you can't see anywhere else handpicked for Weverse members. It also has an Instagram Story-esque feature called "Artist Moments" where artists share "funny, touching, or inspirational" posts with fans that expire once they share a new moment.
A big selling point for international fans is that the app has a built-in translator that allows them to translate artists' posts into their preferred language. Right now, the app is available in English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai.
It’s worth noting, although Weverse was created by HYBE, it’s not just for fans of groups repped by the label. In addition to BTS and TXT, the app also has a community for GFRIEND, a K-Pop girl group under HYBE’s subsidiary label Source Music. SEVENTEEN, who is under Pledis Entertainment, another subsidiary label of HYBE, also has a community on the app. The company even allows artists who aren’t affiliated with HYBE at all on the app, like SM Entertainment’s BLACKPINK, Yuehua Entertainment’s EVERGLOW, and Abyss Company’s SUNMI. There are also non-K-pop artists on the platform as well, like LILHUDDY, MAX, and PRETTYMUCH.
Most artists on Weverse also have a shop on Weverse Shop, but only BTS, TXT, and ENHYPEN have sections specifically for their U.S. fans, while the rest only have global shops (which means their shipping prices and payment options are not optimized for U.S. fans).
While most content on Weverse is available to enjoy for free, in July 2019, HYBE launched a premium section for ARMYs called the BTS' Global Official Fanclub where fans can gain access to even more exclusive content and real-life BTS perks. For a yearly subscription fee of $30, the membership gives ARMYs access to buy exclusive ARMY Membership merchandise (and early access to new merch), access to pre-sale tickets for tours and domestic performances, membership-only image, audio, and video content, and exclusive merch raffles. HYBE later launched membership options for TXT, SEVENTEEN, and GFRIEND’s fans.
International K-pop fans can log in to Weverse now to enjoy all it has to offer. There's much to explore and enjoy on the app!
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