News / Interviews

FanStarz Exclusives: Getting Soshified! An Interview With SNSD's Biggest Fanclub

By Staff Reporter | March 31, 2013 04:50 AM EDT

Fans of Girls Generation, you're in luck. Because KPopStarz.com caught up with Soshified.com founder Soy and got to ask her some questions about herself, her site, and Girls Generation. Soy was generous enough to answer all of our questions and then some, and now you can read up on her chat with us.

Wait, you haven't heard of 'Soshified'? Are you sure? It's Girls Generation's largest and most influential fanclub. Still not ringing a bell?  Okay, well then after reading this, you should know them.

It gets 12 million page views every month (that's a LOT) and has over 250,000 members. They've even raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity over the short 5 years they've been operating.

Impressive, right? Check out Soy's interview with KPopStarz below to find out more awesome info about Soy, Soshified, and Girls Generation!

Q & A

  • What's the philosophy or mission of your web site, Soshified?
    • Our intent is to promote and show off these girls [Girls Generation]. They are such a talented and hardworking group, and they should be promoted as role models.
  • In other words, how is 'Soshified' different from other fangroups?
    • We get 12 million hits a month? Haha no, I'm kidding. For me, the goals of Soshified wasn't to organize fan signings and meetings, it was simply reaching people. So success was found when we had just 100 members. Also, we always try new ideas suggested by the members. We are receptive to new projects, and we consider every suggestion that our members make. Other than that, the sense of community among our members helps Soshified to stand out.
  • What initially attracted you to K-Pop and Girls Generation?
    • I actually started by watching Chinese Dramas, and listening to the music on the sountracks. I was like, "This isn't bad," and started looking for other dramas to watch. Then I started watching a K-Drama. It was Gong Palace, and this girl Yoon Eun Hye played the main character. I liked her, she was pretty and a good actress, and so I looked into her as a person. I found out that she was in a group called Baby Vox. The whole idol concept was very new to me, and I thought it was interesting. But Baby Vox was considered kind of old at that point, and new groups had started coming out. Boy Groups like TVXQ and Super Junior were huge then, and I started listening to them. Then I came across a group called 'Girls Generation' that had just debuted, and I liked their music. That's when I started listening to the girls.
  • When did you start and join the fan club and why?
    • When I started listening to 'Girls Generation', I wanted to learn more about them. There were already a few fan club sites, but they had very few resources. There were no subtitles, and I knew no Korean. Those fan clubs were "very exclusive" but still not very helpful to people who didn't know Korean.
    • I made suggestions to the site creator, but he was starting his 'real life', and when he got a new job, the site kind of died out. I decided to start my own tan site after that, and I came up with the idea of taking Girls Generation videos and putting English subtitles to them. I just wanted to connect fans to more fun Girls Generation content, and make the girls more accessible. We were the first group to start subbing Korean language Girls Generation videos.
  • How many members are in your fan club? Did you expect it to grow so much?
    • I became a Girls Generation fan at 16 years, and I only wanted to put up things that the girls created. I had no idea it would get so huge.
    • Our initial membership grew we put up more subtitles. But we really only had like 400 members in the beginning. I wanted more people to see the girls, but people assumed that as fans, we weren't really doing anything worthwhile. No other websites would help us to promote or post our creations. So we were like, "Let's show them how good we are," and started posting on other popular K-Pop sites. Eventually, people were like, "Wow, this content isn't bad," and we started getting more members.
  • Could you describe the structure of the Soshified site?
    • Sure. We have 4 sections including streaming: Editorial, Featured, News and Translations. Editorial holds opinion pieces by our writers. The Featured section holds interviews and special articles, sometimes seasonal. The News section has Korean articles in English, and the Translations section holds rumors and hearsay, really anything that any publications or famous people have said or written about Girls Generation.
    • Soshified also has a forum area, which has been its main area or feature of the site due to its community vibe.
  • I heard you recently added a style section.
    • Yes! Style.soshified.com. We have 13-15 people working on that. The Style site lets people see what Girls Generation members are wearing and has links to sites where you can actually buy the clothing to get the Girls Generation look yourself.
  • What are your roles within the fan club? Can you describe the daily life of an 'admin'?
    • I oversee all operations and handle most communication with staff members. We have 130 staff, so I coordinate with them and act as oversight. Off-site, I help out with the big ideas of event planning. I like to rely on my staff members for other responsibilities; they're passionate and because of that I can trust them.
  • What are some of your favorite jobs or responsibilities within the fan club?
    • I really enjoy giving back to the fans. In March of 2012 I organized a fan meeting with the girls in New York. I was so stressed and I had no time at all. I was miserable in my hotel room, and these ladies can attest that I looked horrible. But when I saw how happy the fans were to see Girls Generation, I felt so rewarded.
  • What has been your greatest achievement as an organization?
    • Helping out fans, by creating events that fans appreciate. Also, giving to charities is a huge part of why I love doing this.
  • Soshified supports a lot of charities and raises money for good causes, like the Red Cross and the East Japan earthquake that hit in 2011. Can you talk a little about your charity work?
    • It's really important to me to give back to good causes. We often help our fans to organize blood drives and other fundraising events, and when something big comes up, we make sure to organize something to help out. For the Earthquake, Soshified fans raised $45,500 in two weeks. It was a huge success. It just shows the power of community. One member posted his entire month's paycheck, and he said, "It's okay, they need it more than I do." So many of our fans auctioned off Girls Generation autographed items. I auctioned off a CD that Taeyeon had signed. Her father sent me that CD, and it was actually the item that received the highest bid. It's great that all the fans come together to help out people who need it.
  • Because you are quite big and have so many members, this makes you in some ways the official Girls Generation fan club. What process did you have to go through to grow to this size and get that recognition?
    • Hmm...let me think back. It was a long time ago (haha). In 2010 we pitched some ideas for fans, and we came up with the idea to run a fan meet in LA in 2011. We held it at CGV Cinemas. 80,000 people came, but we were over capacity and had to turn so many fans away. That was the first time we saw how much power we had in organizing Girls Generation fans. SM even caught wind of this, and what attracted them to us was the huge turnout, and how well we organized the event.
  • What challenges have you faced as a group?
    • Managing Soshified International is definitely the most challenging part of running the site. We want to help out international fans, and we do, but there's always the language barrier. Sometimes, there's a cultural barrier too. But, for example, we recently tried to run an event in Thailand, a blood drive, I think, and it was really hard to communicate with the fan club there. We want to reach as many people as possible, but the language barrier is definitely the biggest obstacle.
  • KPop is expanding in the United States. Girls Generation and other groups are attempting to find success within the US Music Market. With the Internet allowing for worldwide access, how do you see Soshified and Girls Generation using the Internet to expand their fan-base?
    • Twitter is really important. The girls don't have Twitter, and neither does the group as a whole. Some other k-pop stars, like Amber from f(x), have Twitter accounts. It's a really good way to reach fans. The fans love it. SM Global's Twitter account isn't bad, but the girls could use one.
  • Besides Soshified, what keeps you occupied every day?
    • I'm a full time student at the University of Florida studying telecommunications, so all day I'm in classes, and at night I have to do work for my classes. It's pretty challenging to manage my time and responsibilities, but I love the site so I'd never give it up.
  • In 'Reply 1997', a South Korean drama, the female lead was a fanclub leader and said, " fangirls are the most productive species on the planet". Do you think that's true? Why?
    • (Our guests give high fives and fist pumps all around) Yes, it's definitely true. All of the big Girls Generation sites based in Korea are female run. Actually, most KPop fans seem to be girls, at least at the events we hold and concerts we've attended. But maybe they're just more open about their fandom. Still, all of the events turn out really well when girls attend. Not that we have anything against boy K-pop fans - they do exist and are great too. There just seem to be more female fans that are really productive and with great hearts that want to give back to the girls and others.
  • What are some life lessons that you have learned from being a "fangirl leader"?
    • Timing is important, and patience is even more so. More opportunities come with determination, patience, perseverance and time. It's taken the staff and me 5 years to get to where we are now. Success doesn't happen overnight. Take things step-by-step.
  • Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own fan club, especially for a rookie group?
    • Create the fanclub because you love and believe in the group. You have to believe in what you're helping to promote. Don't do it because you want to be famous or the next big thing; you won't get anywhere.
  • What if another club exists for the group you like?
    • I started out as a member of another fan club, too. If you don't like something, suggest things that you think would improve the fanclub or website. Eventually, despite my suggestions, the fanclub I was involved in first fell apart, and that's when I started 'Soshified'.
  • If Girls Generations fans want to get more involved in the Soshified fan club, how would you recommend they do so?
    • Just do what you want, love and have a passion for. We have a strong staff not really based on the application process. Staff members see material on other sites and request more information. I always ask for a person's Twitter account before hiring them as a staff member; I like to make sure they aren't just a robot or trying to get 'famous' through the fan club. I also want to make sure they really have a passion for Girls Generation. With passion, everything else can be learned. And I want to make sure you have a nice, fun personality. So do what you want, make animations, design a page, write pieces, etc., based on your interests. Then you can apply on the site and we can check out your stuff.
  • What is 'Soshified' planning for the future?
    • More fan events and hopefully allowing fans to interact with Girls Generation more.
  • What misconceptions about KPop fans have you had to correct most often? 'Sasaeng' fans give others a bad name, and sometimes act too intense towards the KPop artists. Instead of that image, how do you encourage members of your site to support Girls Generation healthily?
    • Yeah, sometimes the fans get out of hand, but I think that they are still coming from a good place. They just take their affection too far. And when there's a huge group of fans at an event, there's the possibility that a small number get out of line. So when we organize an event that will include a lot of people, we make sure to hand out booklets with etiquette guides. It's not an attempt to control the fans; it's really just to make sure the girls are safe in such a big crowd. To keep things fun, we put fan chants in the booklets too at concerts.
  • Do you see any differences between K-pop fans and, say, fans of Justin Bieber?
    • Actually, Bieber-mania has some similarities with K-pop fandoms and K-pop fan service from artists. Bieber is sooo good at interacting with fans across all mediums -- social media, concerts, media appearances, everything. So, I would say interaction with fans is very important to succeed in the entertainment industry and to have the masses to like you. Just like in K-pop, just like Justin Bieber.
  • True. So how about some other non-Bieber fans?
    • KPop encompasses every aspect of an idol. Fans don't love a group just for the music; they give their favorite group total support. They love the artist for their personality, too, and like to support the underdog. Fans of U.S. music artists, like Chris Brown, have a casual relationship with their favorite artists. They seem to just like the music, and do not try to get to know the person better.
  • What would you present to U.S. non-KPop fans as a good 'introduction' to the KPop world?
    • I would tell people to watch variety shows so they can see the personalities of KPop stars. I guarantee they'd fall in love with the personalities and become fans. "Hello Baby" is a weird show, but it's so funny. It definitely shows that the idols are real people.
  • How about some music video or song recommendations?
    • Sure! By Girls Generation, I think 'Genie' is a great song. Also 'Mr. Taxi' is a fun video and song.
  • And by a different KPop group?
    • Big Bang is great. I love their whole 'Lies' album, but I'd go with the song 'Lies', or 'Kojima' in Korean.
  • Do you have a favorite Girls Generation member? Song?
    • All 9 girls bring different things to the table, so I can't say I have a favorite just like that. If you ask me, 'who is my favorite singer', I'd say Taeyeon. And Hyoyeon is so funny and such a great dancer. Tiffany is just sweet. So I don't have a favorite just like that, but appreciate each girl for her individual talents.
    • My favorite song is probably 'Girls Generation', because it has sentimental value for me. But I think one of their best songs is 'Genie'. I love listening to that song.
  • You've followed Girls Generation for years. How have you seen the group or members change over time?
    • They're stronger now in dealing with the pressure of being in a super-famous group. And with life in general, I think. They used to be so timid; you could see it in their media appearances and interviews. Now they're a lot less shy and are more comfortable sharing experiences. They've even talked about their drinking experiences, once they came of age of course. They are more open and aren't afraid to show their personalities. Hyoyeon especially has come into her own. I can remember her talking about how in a club, all these men were surrounding her and she just threw up her arms and spun around in a circle to push them away, and kind of bask in the attention at the same time. So charming!
  • Which member, do you think, will get married first?
    • Sooyoung definitely.
  • Do you support sub-groups like TaeTiSeo?
    • Yes! It's the same as other members acting, hosting variety shows, and other things like that. It's a win-win. Plus their music was fun.
  • What is your ideal Girls Generation sub-group combo?
    • Oh wow, well it depends on the group's focus. For Dance, it would be Sooyoung, Hyoyeon, and Yuri. For variety, it would be Tiffany, Yuri, and Taeyeon, because I love their personalities.
  • If you could choose one other music artist for Girls Generation to collaborate with, whom would you choose?
    • Definitely Justin Timberlake. When he released his latest album, he talked a lot about how he didn't want to make music that he didn't feel passionate about, and that's why it took him so long to come out with 'Suit and Tie'. I think that Girls Generation would really benefit from working with him, as he could apply that same passion to the girls' music. Not just the general rapping and singing K-Pop combo, but focusing on what they are passionate about and helping to produce something really great.
  • What about a female artist?
    • I think Pink would be really great for Girls Generation, too, since she's all about female empowerment.
  • Do you have any suggestions for Girls Generation if they want to succeed in the U.S. music market?
    • They have all the tools they need, the image, the talent, the voices, and the music. They just need to perform more and get more exposure. When they came to the U.S. for their 'The Boys' promotions, it was like they were here for two days then gone. Nobody really had the chance to take notice, unless you were already a fan. They need to perform all over the place and take some interviews, so the U.S. music fans can get to know their awesome personalities.
  • What are the strengths of Girls Generation in the United States? Weaknesses?
    • I think it's really the same thing: the number of members. Having 9 members is great because each has unique qualities, and can appeal to different types of people.
    • At the same time, 9 is an overwhelming number for a group in the U.S., so that's a drawback.
  • How would you evaluate the U.S. promotion of 'I Got a Boy'?
    • 'I Got A Boy' got mixed reactions, which is strange. Usually, all the Girls Generation fans love all the songs. Critics thought it was great, but fans weren't all in agreement. The Girls have never danced or rapped like that before. It was just so different from anything they had done. I like it because the only way Girls Generation will be successful is if they change and evolve their image. Great artists aren't boxed into 'cute'. They have diverse aspects, and should continue trying different things. The girls need to keep adapting to new music trends, like how they incorporated dubstep into 'I Got A Boy'.
  • If Girls Generation is going to pursue a career in the United States, what do they need to work on most urgently?
    • They need to prepare for U.S. interviews. They have to be a little more flexible and get used to interviews not being so structured. They should try to show a little more personality when speaking; the U.S. audience needs that 'juice' to fall in love with the girls and become fans.
  • After 10 years pass, what do you want to see from Girls Generation?
    • I want to see them all have strong careers in whatever they want to do: acting, MC-ing, singing solo. At the same time I want them to all come together for albums, like Shinhwa's recent comeback. The ideal is that each girl pursues her individual dream and then comes back together for the group dream.
  • Do you have anything to say to Worldwide KPop fans?
    • Continue supporting Kpop and carrying on your everyday life, and work hard to get to where you want to be. Don't let KPop be your end-all be-all of life. KPop has positively impacted me, and I enjoy it while having and pursuing my individual goals. It should complement your life, not consume it. Keep loving KPop, and never aim to run a fan club; it's not a destination. Just work hard doing what you love.
  • What about to the US Market?
    • The wagon for KPop is coming, so you had better start preparing to hop on or get out of the way. If you start adding to news outlets about it now, you're going to have a head start. KPop is definitely going to catch on. Of that, I am 100% certain.
    • Also, the U.S. media doesn't believe in KPop yet, but maybe if you request your favorite bans to play, they may start considering giving KPop artists aside from Psy some airtime.
    • At the moment, Girls Generation is on Ryan Seacrests's website for the poll "Whose Album Are You Most Excited For In 2013?" and Girls Generation is far ahead of the competition, including Avril Lavigne and David Cook. See? It's coming.

Credits:  Soshified, Allyza U, Kristina H.

Tagged :  Ganstarz, Soshified, SNSD, Girls Generation

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