Fan rice (Hangul: 쌀 기부; Hanja: 쌀寄附; RR: ssal gibu), usually stacks of rice bags decorated with ribbons and photos, are gifts from K-pop fans to their favourite artists. The amount of donated rice can vary between a few kilograms and several tonnes. The rice is usually then donated to a charity of the idols' choice.
The first instance of fan-donated rice was at Shin Hye-sung's concert on 11 August 2007. In previous years, it was common for fan clubs to create displays of flowers and decorative banners for their favorite idols. The trend started in the late 2000s when fans began to send food to their favorite music artists, and took off in 2011. Today, there are entire businesses dedicated to the donation of fan rice in South Korea.
Fans of K-pop buy bags of rice and donate them to their favorite artists. Rice is sorted out in 20 kg bags, arranged into 'towers' by dedicated companies who purchase the rice from local farmers and transport it to the venues according to the orders from the fan clubs. Fans often inscribe special or personal messages onto the bags or attach photos to them. Donating rice indicates that fans take greater social responsibility besides showing their respect and support to their favourite artists. Sending rice bags to venues have also appeared in Japan, as part of the K-pop wave.
Philanthropy among K-pop fans serves to promote the public images of both the idols they support and the fans themselves. Fan's awareness of their somewhat negative reputation has motivated them to take action to leave a more positive, "mature" impression.
There exists, however, an element of competition between both different fan clubs and among members belonging to the same club. There have been cases of fans within the same club vying to make sure that their favorite group member receives the most gifts or donations, which can cause stress for other fans.
- In 2013, the record of fan rice donated for a celebrity event was held by the fan club of 2PM, where fans from different countries donated 28.088 tonnes of rice for their <What Time Is It> finale concert.
- For Rain's concert, The Best Show Tour, his Korean fan club "Cloud Korea" collectively donate 3.61 tons of rice to the hungry.
- Fans of TVXQ!'s U-Know Yunho donated 35.938 tons of rice to celebrate his appearance in the web drama "I Order You" in 2015, 9.5 tons of which was donated to low-income elderly and children in his home city of Gwangju, South Korea.
- Big Bang fans collectively donated around 168 tons of rice among other goods to Dreame Korea in December 2017 in honor of the group's last concert before going on hiatus.
- After BtoB's visit to Cambodia in 2013, fans of the group donated rice in Cambodia and some even traveled there to distribute their donations in person.
- "South Korea's Greatest Export: How K-Pop's Rocking the World". Time Magazine. 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "'Rice wreaths' indicate that K-Pop fandoms are becoming more mature". Allkpop. 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "신화 신혜성 다국적 팬, 6년째 쌀화환 응원". Daum Kakao. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- "신혜성 다국적 팬들, 쌀화환으로 5년간 '지극정성' 응원". FNN StarN. Archived from the original on 22 January 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- "Shinhwa to Recruit Fans for 10th Fanclub After Seven Years". CJ E&M. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Hemmeke, Katelyn (20 February 2017). "Planting Rainforests and Donating Rice: The Fascinating World of K-pop Fandom". Korea Exposé. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- WOO, JAEYEON. "Seoul Food: Treating Your Idol to Lunch Is the True Test of Fandom". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
For a Contribution of Just $135, You Can Feed a Korean Pop Star
- "KARA's Japanese fans the first to donate rice for a concert in Japan". Allkpop. 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "2PM's fans donate a record amount of rice for their finale concert". allkpop. 2013-06-27. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
- "K-pop idol fans donate 9.5 tons of rice for elderly, children". The Korea Times. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Big Bang and VIPs donate rice, coal briquettes, and other goods to charity". Allkpop. 3 January 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Cambodian fans donate and hand out rice under BTOB's name". 3 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2018.