Autoethnographic Experience: South Korean Live Streaming Service – ‘V Live’ (Part 1)

Social-media-e1503574644788-1260x840Like the majority of young people, I am an active user of social networking sites. I use a variety of different applications, both for my personal life and for my degree at University. Some of the social media applications that I use are inclusive of, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. I have also used many others which have sparked popularity throughout the years such as, Tumblr, Pinterest, and the most recent online craze, TikTok.

Growing up in Australia, these ‘social media giants’ are the extent to what I have been exposed to, but over the past year I have began noticing popular applications used overseas. Due to my own, newfound interest in the music genre; K-Pop (Korean Pop music), one of the applications I have become aware of is the South Korean owned, live streaming site, V LIVE

V LIVE is an online live streaming service for South Korean celebrities, which allows them to connect with their fans all over the world. The app was created by online platform, NAVER Corp., in 2015 and is now home to over 1,150 channels owned by K-Pop idols, entertainment companies, news corporations, and more. K-Pop celebrities, known as ‘idols,’ use V LIVE to host celebrations, show new performances, talk about music, or just chat; allowing fans to, “support your star’s creative work,” as expressed on the website’s About V LIVE page.

Whilst exploring the V LIVE website, watching live videos, and other prerecorded content, I can understand the real appeal of V LIVE seems to be the ability for translators to add English (and up to 18 other languages) subtitles. From my perspective, as K-Pop is evolving and interests are growing for Korean music and culture, it is both important and valuable that a platform like V LIVE fosters the ability for fans to watch with real time and edited subtitles. It allows fans to not only get a closer look at their idols, and their lives, but it also offers the ability for fans all over the world to gain a greater understanding by breaking the language barrier.

Aisyah and Nam (2017, p. 113) note, “This software, which is available on android and iOS, has gathered many K-Pop stars who broadcast their own shows or content to their beloved fans. The reliance on providing entertainment show content without being attached to television programme scheduling has somehow revamped entertainment or show varieties in this century.”

V LIVE is no doubt a new and interesting social media platform, but as someone who has spent the majority of my life purely invested in Western media and celebrity culture, the premise of the app is immediately interesting to me. Coming from an auto-ethnographic standpoint, I think what is most intriguing about this app is the fact that it is a completely foreign concept, with nothing else like it available.

By exploring V LIVE and becoming a participant observer of the culture of the site (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2010, 2), I can draw on my own past experiences of social media use to relate to this new platform. Relatedly, in ways, it is similar to platforms I have used in the past like Twitch or the live video content on Instagram’s Insta Live, Facebook, or Youtube, but none of those are exclusive hubs for celebrities and their content creation. V LIVE displays on it’s website, “You can interact with your stars in real time around the world. You will get to know them better.” Different than watching music performances on YouTube, or following celebrities on Instagram, V LIVE offers a way for fans to directly connect with their idols in real time, with live subtitles, and live reactions.

As K-Pop is growing internationally, I believe that V LIVE and other apps to come, alike, have the potential to administrate and promote these celebrities to fans all over the world. I think it will be interesting to observe how celebrity culture in Korea will become even more popular abroad, influenced by social networking sites like V LIVE.


Aisyah, A & Nam, YJ 2017, ‘K-Pop V Fansubs, V LIVE and NAVER Dictionary: Fansubbers’ Synergy in Minimising Language Barriers,’ 3L: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 112-127, viewed 12 September 2019,

Ellis, C, & Adams, T & Bochner, A 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview,’ Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, viewed 12 September 2019, <  >

Pollit, E 2019, Social Media Wars: What is Australia’s Favourite Platform, B&T, Australia.

V LIVE 2019, Home, V LIVE, viewed 12 September 2019,



4 thoughts on “Autoethnographic Experience: South Korean Live Streaming Service – ‘V Live’ (Part 1)

  1. I found myself drawn to your blog post because you’ve tackled a subject that is very foreign for many of us in this subject. In this sense, you’ve done a great job of explaining what the app is and its purpose etc. However, I felt that a real analysis of autoethnographic sources and how you have applied them to your experiences was a bit lacking. A good article for you to check out might be Pitard J 2017, ‘A Journey to the Centre of Self: Positioning the Researcher in Autoethnography’, Qualitative Social Research, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 1-21. This outlines a framework through which you can begin reflexive thinking about your experiences and identify anything within your cultural frame or methodology process which might be a barrier to your understanding of culture as an outsider. I did like how you identified the extent to which ‘media giants’ in the west spread because we do live in a very centralised network of online platforms, so I think it’s great that you’re venturing out.


  2. Hey Lydia,

    A really cool post! Before reading this I had never heard of the V Live streaming service but it sounds like a really cool platform. Despite not having much interest in K-pop I’m really curious to see how this kind of platform would work and if it would feel like you are having a close interaction. The ability for users to add English subtitles also sparks my interest as I feel like I could actually use the platform without having to worry about a language barrier. You’ve done a really good job at explaining your experience of discovering and navigating the platform. I notice you mention drawing on past experiences with similar platforms such as Twitch to help you understand how you interpret V Live, I think that’s interesting considering in the Ellis reading there is mention to how autoethnographers write retrospectively about epiphanies that come as a result of an experience. Do you think when you initially engaged with V Live for the first time you were expecting it to be a similar experience to Twitch or something like an Instagram Live?

    Either way, a really pleasant read 🙂


  3. It’s such a shame that we’re limited by a word count; it felt like you were diving into some engaging and critical insights that I would’ve loved to have delved further into with you. I’m also an admittedly huge fan of a lot of the music coming out from Korea (in my case KHop as opposed to KPop) and the K-idol/industry is an incredibly fascinating beast of a machine. I think it’s one of the reasons I responded to this blog post; it’s a culture that I’m also aware of in my own way, and a culture that I engage with regularly, in my own way. I like your comparison’s with; I would’ve loved to have seen more on your observed differences between and V LIVE. From my own observations from a KHop stand point (admittedly different to KPop), Instagram, YouTube and LINE are heavily used platforms to engage with KHop artists and fans; maybe something worth looking into for KPop. Discussions on how streaming platforms and social media in general have shaped the K-idol industry are some points that I think would be fascinating to read about and that I think are relative to your post.


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