Now South Korean president Moon Jae-in is getting his K-pop idol moment.
K-pop fans often go to great lengths to display their love for their idols. It’s common to see large billboards in subway stations or ads in newspapers—even outside of Korea—taken out by fans to celebrate the birthdays of their favorite stars.
Ahead of Moon’s birthday on Jan. 24, video ads have been popping up in Seoul’s subway stations wishing the president a happy birthday. “January 24, 1953. The day the Moon rose. Congratulations on your 66th birthday,” the ads say, with a QR code linking to a page counting down the time remaining until his birthday. (Moon will be turning 65, but he will be 66 according to his “Korean age,” since Koreans have a different method for calculating age.)
The Twitter account behind the campaign, @Moon_rise_day, said that (link in Korean) it is “a group of ordinary women who support president Moon,” and that the billboards will be on display until the end of February.
Another group of supporters bought ad space on five screens in New York City’s Times Square from Jan. 22 to 24 to celebrate Moon’s birthday. One of the people in the group posted a receipt of the transaction on Twitter:
Since he was elected to power in May last year following the impeachment of president Park Geun-hye, Moon has enjoyed high approval ratings, hovering at above 70%. A recent poll by Gallup Korea put Moon’s approval rating at 73% (link in Korean), up from the previous week’s 72%, following the South-North Korea talks on Jan. 9.
In stark contrast to the previous nine years of conservative rule, he’s vowed to bring a more progressive and transparent form of government to the Blue House—the seat of government—including measures such as an online petition system and unscripted press conferences.
A third group of Moon fans also said it has bought video ad space that will be shown on the exterior of conservative newspaper Chosun Ilbo’s building (link in Korean), on Moon’s birthday.
A representative of Seoul Metropolitan Subway told Quartz that it’s received 2,111 comments from members of the public regarding Moon’s birthday billboards. Five percent of those were complaints, including requests to remove the ads, with the rest expressing support.