A swarm of obsessive fans caused chaos at Shanghai Airport as they tried to catch a glimpse of their idols on Saturday.
A list that surfaced on Weibo shows a total of 16 pop stars who either departed or arrived that day, including Deng Chaoyuan, who emerged from the second season of Chinese reality show “Idol Producer.”
The crowd, who had been staying at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport since Friday, smashed the glass barrier of a moving walkway, but no injuries have been reported.
As seen in photos, the hordes of fans condensed at the sight of their idols, attempting to get as close as possible to take their pictures.
On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Public Security released a statement warning such fans to behave in a “rational and civilized” manner or face consequences.
According to the ministry, causing public disorder, violating personal rights and committing related illegal acts are punishable by fines, administrative detention or even criminal prosecution.
Interestingly, some netizens suspect that the mob on Sunday may have been orchestrated to create hype.
“Why would people know the exact flight information of those pop stars? Certainly their agents told some kind of fan leader, who then organised gatherings at the airport,” one commented, according to the South China Morning Post.
Tracking celebrities through social media has become a trend in China, with some even selling flight details, according to Sixth Tone.
A similar phenomenon also happens in South Korea, where some go as far as booking plane tickets to take snaps of their idols before canceling their trip at the last minute — causing delays for hundreds of other passengers.
To address the situation, Korean Air, for one, increased refund fees with an additional 200,000 won ($177) for late cancellations beginning January.
“There have been several cases in which fans deliberately buy expensive flight tickets that offer better rebate terms, and then demand a refund,” a spokesperson told the Korea Times. “However, as far as I know, this is the first time a group actually got on the plane and asked to leave [just] before takeoff.”
Last July, China’s Civil Aviation Authority ordered mainland airports to strengthen regulations on such fans after causing flight delays in Beijing and Shanghai.
Some solutions include improving staff management to prevent leaks of celebrities’ flight details, installing an early warning system to prevent fan gatherings and maintaining the order on board, CGTN noted.