I was pulled into the world of fanfiction for the very first time when I was in eighth grade and there was this angst/tragedy story about some South Korean actors that was passing around in my group of girlfriends. Now that I looked back, the story was not very logical and there were a tons of Mary-sues and Gary-stus (though, it was well-written in terms of grammar and spelling). However, at that time it moved me to tears…very embarrassing. Anyways, at that time I was still not aware of “Fanfiction” until I did a quick Google search to find similar stories and ended up on the Winglin.net website.
Nowadays, fanfic enthusiasts know that Winglin.net is as much dead as Internet Explorer. However, it was THE platform for all the “cool” high school writers out there. At the peak of its popularity, fanfics about Hong Kong celebrities dominated with some stories about Taiwanese & Japanese celebrities and a few about the South Korean celebrities. I remember the first ever fanfic that I wrote was about my first idol-bias, Benny Chan (from Hong Kong), and I wrote the story in script format like most beginners. I even made a gigantic poster with good, old paint (basically snapped some photos of the main characters of my story and sprayed around the hard edges to make a “smooth” blend). *sigh* I even remember the story title was Happiness (facepalm). Furthermore, I had set the background of the story to be pink just to complete the “romantic” atmosphere of the story. Finally, two of the biggest reasons for a love-hate relationship in that “faraway” story are coffee-spill and framing someone for cheating on a small pop quiz. Yes, very cringe-worthy. I am just gritting my teeth as I typing out this horrifying memory.
Anyways, when K-pop started to become popular and overthrew the Hong Kong celebrity fanfic era, I noticed there were groups of other expertises starting to join the fanfic community – the Reviewers and the Graphic Designers. From then on, there were rarely any genuine comments written just for the story. Advertisements from these review shops and graphic shops bombarded the comment section. It was a whole new era. Besides the annoying advertisements, the fanfic world has become a place where teenagers could practice and start building their own portfolio of graphic designs (for those into arts, web design, or even computer science, and etc.), reviews/criticisms (for the editor/critic wannabes), and of course, writing (for the writers).
I also noticed another change, and it was the writing quality of the fanfic authors. The “Hong Kong” celebrity-centric writers tend have the best writing (I would even dare to say better than some of the published books out there these days) and there was usually a level of maturity in the content that made readers think. Maybe the readers have simply matured. Or perhaps, it had to do with the influence of the TVB (a Hong Kong television broadcast station) series that these writers grew up with. I think it’s both, but leaning more towards the latter because other fandoms (Taiwanese & Japanese celebrities) don’t have nearly as much sophistication in their writing. Taiwanese or Japanese drama series tend to focus on teenage romance and comedy (a lot of exaggerations too) at that time (early 2000s). Therefore, the teenage romance and drama were, more often than not, apparent in the writing of those who grew up with these popular drama series. Meanwhile, TVB drama series tend to gear towards the housewives (and unfortunately many teenagers have to watch it with their moms during dinner time), so there’s going to be level of sophistication in the drama plot. Again, influences of the TVB drama series were clearly evident in the writing of those who grew up with it.
The final change I have noticed, which is also painfully obvious to anyone who ever had a glimpse of the K-pop fanfic scene, is the preference for Yaoi (boy-love, homosexual) stories. Unfortunately, sometimes the reason for such a trend is not simply because teenage girls like to explore the “forbidden” concept of two guys falling in love with each other or that they’re trying to create something like Brokeback Mountain. Sometimes, the reason is far more sinister being that they simply can’t accept seeing their beloved oppas falling in love with another GIRL. Okay, I’ll stop here before the more obsessed fans somehow find their way to my house just to give me a warning.
Finally, even though Winglin.net has brought me much “happiness” (facepalm again) throughout part of my adolescent life, I’m glad it’s dead now (the website always had glitch problems and disappearing stories) and that there are much more user-friendly plus social platforms for fanfic writers these days (Asianfanfics and Fanfiction.net).