Stray Kids' Hyunjin's fans welcome him back online after 'forced' hiatus

Hyunjin returns with Stray Kids' 'Mixtape: OH' music video but fans feel his presence a week later as he comes online on the Bubble app

                            Stray Kids' Hyunjin's fans welcome him back online after 'forced' hiatus
Stray Kids' Hyunjin came online and Stays were in tears (Stray Kids' Instagram)

With several groups disbanding or members departing, K-pop fans are afraid that it may happen to their favorites. In the first half of 2021, certain idols were targeted in a systematic way to bring them down as allegations cropped up that they were involved in school bullying or harassment. Unlike the rest of the world, bullying in South Korea is extremely vicious and hence the general population does not let alleged bullies let go lightly. Trolls and antis took advantage of this to attack certain idols and unfortunately, Stray Kids’ Hyunjin was one of them.

JYP Entertainment released a statement that they were responding to the allegations but there hadn’t been much progress. Hyunjin had been made to apologize and go on hiatus even though he was innocent and cleared of the rumors. Stays, Stray Kids’ fans were especially disheartened when Hyunjin’s face was taken off brands and he was made to skip the fierce survival show, Mnet's Kingdom, where Stray Kids ended up winning. After months of radio silence, where even his members were not allowed to mention him, Hyunjin finally came back.

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Hyunjin comes online

A week ago, Stray Kids dropped the single, ‘Mixtape: OH’ and fans were shocked to see Hyunjin participate in it. While this meant that the group was complete and that Hyunjin would resume his activities with Stray Kids, it still felt strange. The group’s leader, Bang Chan gave fans assurance by indirectly mentioning that Hyunjin was fine and happy. He also noticed a fan’s video edit welcoming back Hyunjin and gave it a shout out. But Stay Twitter went into a frenzy last night when they noticed that Hyunjin was online at 1 am KST.

While FanCafe and VLive still are the most used social media apps to interact with fans, idols have started using Bubble more frequently. Fans can send personal messages to the idol of their choosing with a notification near the message. When the notification disappears, it means that the idol has read the message. And that was exactly what was happening last night to Stays who had all messaged Hyunjin.

At first, Twitter was in confusion as Stays incoherently kept tweeting that Hyunjin was back. Many assumed that they were talking about the ‘Mixtape: OH’ music video. However, having Hyunjin read the messages sent to him felt more personal than the release of the music video which still felt unreal. Fans also noticed that it took some time for the unread notification to disappear meaning that Hyunjin was actually reading each and every message instead of just opening and closing the messages. The final straw was when Hyunjin finally changed his display picture on the app as a way of announcing that he was really back.

Fans were in a frenzy when they realized Hyunjin was online as one tweeted, “I SPENT THE LAST HOUR AND A HALF CRYING,,, IT DOESNT FEEL REAL !! WE MISSED YOU !!! WELCOME BACK HWANG HYUNJIN.” Another came up with a very pleasant possibility, “What if stray kids is reading the messages with him and just smiling with him.” One Stay couldn't get over the fact that he had changed his profile photo, “From this [old profile photo] to this [new profile photo].” Another noticed as to why Hyunjin had put a clover emoji next to his name, “Those who find a four-leaf clover are destined for good luck, as each leaf in the clover symbolizes good omens for faith, hope, love, and luck for the finder” STAY we found our four-leaf clover and it’s hwang hyunjin.” One excited fan tweeted, "Do you think that hyunjin was also counting down to july last night that he didnt even wait until sunrise to come online   he misses us too."