20150901_seoulbeats_vappcnblueIn the earlier years of being a K-pop fan living outside of Korea, reliance on forums was heavy. YouTube wasn’t introduced until 2005, so there was no color coded lyrics videos, no subtitles of performances, or anything remotely near the content that is uploaded onto the platform today. There was no chance of interacting with idols because of the limited accessibility on the super information highway. While NAVER was founded in 1999, it didn’t become a video platform channel until 2007 and even then, the chances of getting a message saying “the video is not available in your country” was high.

To ride the Hallyu wave which has crashed against shores worldwide, NAVER Corp. set out to publish the V – Live Broadcasting App which launched towards the end of July 2015. This post should provide insight as far as what the app is, what it does, how you can obtain it, pros and cons, and pretty much anything in between.

1. Getting started: what is V, why was it created, and how you can obtain it?

A small rundown of an explanation of their app is as follows.

“V” is an app that lets you watch the personal broadcasting videos of celebs on your phone. You can follow your favorite celebs, watch their videos, and use comments and ‘hearts’ to share your thoughts and feelings with others.

A main reason and speculation as to why the application was developed: to fill in the gap international fans of K-pop were missing. Unlike the NAVER app, there are no blocks on region access, which is a definite plus. The app’s main functions are in English, but is also used by those in Korea. Stars are aware they have international fans, so this is the perfect way to interact with them.

The first release was in the Google Play Store for Android, and then roughly a week later, in the App Store for iOS. It is limited to devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Currently it is in beta mode, with a fully grounded release coming in September 2015.

And the app isn’t named after V of BTS, but for the peace sign Koreans are most famous for displaying in pictures. Opening the app has an animation of a hand making the peace sign.

2. Familiarizing yourself with the app

Be sure to either have a Facebook or LINE account. There are no other log in options. Pick any celebrities and/or companies listed20150901_seoulbeats_vappfeed to follow. They will show up in your feed every time you log in. If at any point you want to add or remove, tap on the menu bars above “My celeb” on the left hand side, tap “My Celeb,” then “Add”, and the list will reappear. Sadly it’s not in alphabetical order. Also the same page accesses an artist or company’s main page if you want to watch their videos only.

The upper tabs contain: “My celeb” which features the selected stars to show up in the newsfeed, “New” which lists all videos starting with the newest upload, and “Popular” which is a mix of new and what has a lot of views/comments/hearts.

There’s a search option on the top and next to it, a calendar to show a schedule of what’s upcoming. Take note that not only are there scheduled programs, but also random ones. And most times, the videos are streaming real-time. So if an idol group suddenly gets the idea to hop on and start a live show, hope that you’re browsing the app during that time, because unless it’s scheduled, it won’t be announced on the calendar.

Otherwise, the app is pretty simple and self-explanatory.

3. Application Features

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkD7tVol10g]

The feature of the live chat/commenting is a good option since if a star is live on the app and checks the comments, there’s a high possibility it will be read. Also the application calls for interaction between fan and idols. There will be times when they’ll ask for feedback and users are able to reply.

“Chemi-beat” or “Chemical beat” is not a fully functioning feature as of yet and will most likely be fulfilled after the beta. You’ll find your Chemi-beat at the top of an artist’s homepage. This aspect is to ‘track’ your interaction within the app and across the platform (comments, hearts, etc.). The advantage of having a high Chemi-beat is if star is hosting an event, your chances of winning increases. Other gains are different types of likes, stickers, and the chance of your name being read by the artist. Since the app is only in beta, there is a plan for additional benefits to be added in the future.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2bRBhRW68E]

Hearts are comparable to abusing the ‘like’ system on Facebook. The only difference is that hearts are continuous as long as the meter isn’t empty.

4. Problems and issues

The lack of subtitles seems to be one of the biggest complaints. Seeing that it’s an international version of NAVER in some ways, at least English subtitles would 20150901_seoulbeats_vappparkboyoungbe helpful. The issue with this complaint is that some of the videos are pre-recorded whereas others are live. The live videos obviously will not be subbed at the time of occurrence because they are most likely unscripted. But if the video is prerecorded and then uploaded, the chances of it being subtitled is higher. For example, Nam-joon and Jung-kook from BTS have a segment entitled Rap Monster “1minute English” which has subtitles and most likely was recorded beforehand. On the same token, VIXX LR’s MV 1,000,000 Views Achieved Surprise Video may have been prerecorded considering the editing element, but there are no subs. What I have noticed is if the video is watched hours after the broadcast, subtitles are placed in the video. This may not be so in all cases but it is in most.

I believe the real problem may not be because of the videos foregoing subs, but the inconsistency of it — some videos have it, some don’t. Even if a company has a translator on their team, still not all of the videos put out are subbed. In any case, it still gives people the opportunity to release subbed videos on their YouTube or Daily Motion channels if the V app doesn’t provide it already.

S20150901_seoulbeats_vappfaqecondly, loading issues: video loading time takes longer than usual, errors to try again later, and scrolling through the video will sometimes have it restart from the beginning.  This isn’t too much of a concern because YouTube has the same problem from time to time. It could be because of the amount of users on the app or watching the same video, poor connection, etc. Since the app is still in the beta phases, patience and tolerance will be tested. Personally, I’ve only ran into this issue once, maybe twice when watching an iKON video, but otherwise, no problems here.

Furthermore, terms of use, privacy policy, and notices are in Korean. Granted, most people tend not to read the documents mentioned, but it would be nice to have an idea of what you’re agreeing to. Also if there’s any notices or updates or you need to refer to the FAQ for help, you’re out of luck unless you can read Hangul.

5. Who’s on V?

Here’s a short list of artists and companies that are currently part of the V app. There’s more to come as it is becoming more popular, so keep checking from time to time:

BIGBANG            INFINITE            YOUNHA
miss A                 WINNER             BTOB
Ailee                    4minute              Apink
SM TOWN          YG Family           GOT7
2PM                    BEAST                MAMAMOO
B1A4                  TEENTOP           DSPmedia
FNC                    Girl’s Day            Arirang TV

…and any other artist mentioned or seen in this post.

6. Should you get the app?

The application fills in the gap that the NAVER app leaves open. It’s the start of an international bridge, but clearly some planks haven’t been made or are currently being placed. The inconsistency of subtitles of videos can be annoying, but the real time interaction makes the app interesting. Perhaps there will be more of an incentive to be more 20150901_seoulbeats_vappfttsactive once the Chemi-beat feature is further developed.

The aspect of the Chemi-beat is still a mystery. Even though it’s explained how it works, there’s no evidence of how it comes into play. There’s a risk of being active now and having a better advantage when the application is released post-beta. Or ignore it, see what it does, and then hope you can catch up to others who started to build their chemistry before you. I hope that they expand the ‘inner winning ciricle’ to more than just ten people.

So should you get the app? Plain answer: yes. Better explained answer: Yes, because the V – live Broadcasting App is definitely a work in progress. I have a feeling there will be a lot of push to make it successful. K-pop isn’t limited to Korea, but to the world and companies are releasing now how large the impact of the music is overseas. Even some idols and groups have more international fans than ones in their own country.  So it’s a great way to link the bridge that has always been open only on one end.

(NAVER, Google Play, YouTube[1][2])