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Burnaby is a paradise for K-pop fans, says Spotify Wrapped

"My people are in Burnaby!" one K-pop fan wrote online.
Jungkook, Korean pop idol of BTS fame.

"ARMYs," "Stays," and "ELFs" worldwide are finding out Burnaby is the place to be for K-pop fans.

Spotify has released its year-end personalized lists for users, known as Spotify Wrapped, and now K-pop fans online say they want to move to Burnaby.

“People there are far more likely to be fans of BTS, Jimin, and Jung Kook,” said Wrapped to the fans, with a map circling Burnaby.

Burnaby is also the place to be for fans of Twice and Jihyo, according to Wrapped.

“My people are in Burnaby!” one K-pop fan wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Y'all at Burnaby, Canada have the best taste,” said another.

Burnaby is home to KR Multimedia in Crystal Mall. The shop bills itself as the biggest Korean-pop retail store in the area, with a mission to create "a piece of K-pop heaven in the heart of British Columbia."

Shop manager Noelle Banford said she was a little bit surprised Burnaby was named as a worldwide hot spot for K-pop, especially because the music genre wasn't too popular here when she first became a fan.

But with the rise of boy band BTS, K-pop became a favourite of many.

Banford described the fan community at KR Multimedia as a fun and lively group, especially with the younger generation.

"They'll come in, we play K-pop music videos," Banford said. "I'll see them dancing, they'll sing along."

Banford attributed much the appeal of K-pop to their clean and catchy lyrics.

"They're all pure, clean, happy songs."

Fans enjoy collecting and trading band merch, and they also create their own, Banford said.

She explained each fanbase has their own name for its devotees: BTS fans are called "ARMYs," Stray Kids fans are called "Stays," and Super Junior fans are called "ELFs." Bands also have designated lightsticks and colours.

KR Multimedia promotes local community events, called "cup-sleeve" events, hosted by local bubble tea shops which feature branded cup sleeves for the bubble tea cups.

Could the shout-out from Wrapped be the start of a new wave of local K-pop fans?

"I hope so," Banford said, adding she hopes more K-pop bands bring their concerts to the Vancouver area.

"It is a high, high demand."