Romancing BTS’s Jungkook: S'porean, 19, writes fanfic with 7 million reads

Stories of Us: From detailed descriptions of flexed biceps to tales of mysterious millionaires, 19-year-old Ng Kwok Ching writes fanfiction starring the members of BTS.

Andrew Koay | February 06, 2021, 12:26 PM

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Some K-pop fans dream of meeting their idols.

For some fans, like 19-year-old Ng Kwok Ching, these fantasies manifest themselves in the form of fictional stories involving real idols, also known as fanfiction.

The superfan of South Korean boy band BTS has gained quite a following online, where she is known as the prolific writer Jiminfication.

Her stories — which can stretch for longer than 40 chapters — pull readers in with their intoxicating mix of vividly described romance and drama, with the different members of BTS playing starring roles.

One of Ng’s most popular stories is the 26-part Cinderella’s Contract — a Great Gatsby-inspired tale with BTS's Jimin playing the role of a mysterious millionaire who has set his desires on a woman of differing socio-economic class.

So irresistible was the plot for K-Pop fans that since Ng published the first chapter in November 2017, Cinderella’s Contract has attracted over 1.4 million reads.

“What I wanna achieve with my books is to bring the reader through a world, on a roller coaster ride,” Ng said, when I asked her what she thought the appeal of her stories were.

The 78,400-odd followers she has so far amassed on the online storytelling platform seem to agree.

“The amount of times I’ve reread this book is probably unhealthy. Not that I care anyways haha,” said a user named Hahaha1918, one of the 22,500 comments that adorn the first chapter of another of Ng’s hit stories, Rivals.

In reply, the author posted a heart emoji.

Falling in love with BTS

Ng’s love for writing preceded her fascination with K-Pop.

As a young teenager, the precocious storyteller penned thrillers that she later “forced” her friends to read.

“My writing was not as good as it is now,” she said of her early work.

It wasn’t till she turned 16, that BTS became a fixture in her life.

“I actually was skeptical about K-pop because I thought that K-pop was like, really noisy.”

However, a serendipitous encounter with the music video for BTS's 2015 song "Dope" changed her mind.

“I just fell in love with it because it was so rhythmical and it was like really impactful. It was so cool, so I actually read more into it and watched their videos.”

And while the band proved to be a gateway into the world of K-pop, Ng told me that no other bands or performers appeal to her the way that BTS does.

Image of Ng Kwok Ching's BTS merchandise Ng's room is adorned with BTS fan art and posters. Image by Andrew Koay

“I really like how they are very genuine and humble,” she said.

“They emphasise on teamwork and friendship amongst themselves and I really feel the brotherhood between them — it’s very endearing.”

Her favourite members of the band are Jungkook and Jimin.

Jimin because of his kind heart — “he’s very nice, he’s like an angel."

“Jungkook, he’s good at everything. He’s an all-rounder…he can (beatbox), he can sing, he can rap, he can dance… I’m just like, ‘I want to be like him.' He’s so talented, he’s so cool.”

The latter is also Ng’s favourite character to write about, owing to the fact that they are relatively close in age (at 23, Jungkook is the youngest member of BTS) and share “very similar… thought processes”.

“I feel very comfortable using him as my main character because it’s very relatable.”

Inspired to write fanfiction

The idea of using the members of BTS as characters in her stories first came to Ng as many good ideas in life do — over a meal of deep fried chicken.

“I was in KFC one day... and I was like ‘Yeah, I have this book plot. I really want to write that. Do I want to write it as fanfiction?’”

That was the genesis of Roommate, a “fluffy, romance comedy” where Jimin takes the role of the titular character.

“It took me less than one hour, so like 30 minutes to write that first chapter?” recalled Ng.

“I wasn’t nervous (about publishing it online) because I was thinking nobody will read it.

But right, when I got a thousand reads, I started to be a bit embarrassed because people were taking notice of my (story).”

The story, which was started in May 2017 and finished in July that year, has gone on to receive over 7.6 million reads. It was also the highest ranked fanfiction story on Wattpad at one point in time, according to the story's description.

“It was just very clichéd, very normal,” said Ng of her first story.

These days, Ng said she finds inspiration for her stories from everyday scenarios and incidents that happen to her.

“I’ll just be like, ‘What happens if the character goes through same thing that I did?' Then I’ll imagine like, ‘Oh, this can be a story plot.’”

Another source of her narratives comes from the “vibes” she feels when listening to the band’s music.

A quick survey of her stories reveals scenes that read like something from a highly dramatic (and maybe a tad sensual) Korean serial.

An excerpt from Rivals — where Jungkook is portrayed as the narrator’s high school menace-cum-love interest — reads like this:

“‘Can I taste your cooking later?’ Jungkook’s face popped up right in front of me, causing me to stop in alarm. He was leaning down, his face inches apart from mine. My eyes darted to the lollipop he was sucking, his lips dyed red and glossy.

He had taken off his jacket, and it was hung over his shoulders. I absolutely, 100 per cent, did not notice the flexed biceps under his white shirt as he stretched his arm.”

Ng’s stories are published one chapter at a time, whenever the inspiration strikes and Ng has some time to spare for writing; the 19-year-old is currently a second-year Art Management student at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

Rivals — made up of 42 chapters (full of vivid descriptions such as the one above) and has been read over 7.2 million times — includes an intermission, where Ng apologised for the “slow updates”.

“I’ve been particularly busy with studies lately,” she wrote.

In an earlier intermission, Ng addressed comments she’d received from eager readers, such as: “Not to rush you, but it’s been 20 centuries since your last update, I hope you update soon.”

Ng listed reasons for her tardiness, including: “When I get home after school, I eat and hibernate till the next morning.”

Uniting in fandom

“Her writing is descriptive. It’s not to the point, it makes you think and keeps you guessing,” said one of Ng’s friends — who gave her name as Jae — explaining why she thought the fanfiction writer’s work seems to command such fervent readership.

“It keeps you hooked on the story.”

Jae had read Ng’s fanfiction and enjoyed her fan art, before having actually met her.

They eventually became friends after meeting at a BTS fan event in late 2020.

This year, the pair, along with another friend and BTS fan named Saz, are organising their own event — a gathering of fans known as a fan cafe — to commemorate the anniversary of the band’s formation in June.

Still five months out from the fan cafe, the trio were buzzing and animated while talking about the work they are doing for it.

This includes designing the event’s mafia-themed posters and marketing collaterals, sourcing for decorations (“We even got a big LED light sign,” said Ng), booking a venue, and planning the programme.

There are also Covid-19 restrictions to abide by and administrative work required in order to get approval for such an event in the midst of a global pandemic.

Image of Ng Kwok Ching and her friends Saz and Jae Ng and her friends Saz (L) and Jae (R). Image by Andrew Koay

As you might imagine, putting together the fan cafe also involves large amounts of fawning over the members of BTS.

The trio really came alive when discussing their favourite members and the qualities they adore in them.

Despite the significant undertaking, Ng said the experience thus far had been “fun for us”.

“Among the three of us, we really became really great friends because of this.”

“I am very thankful to BTS for letting me meet them,” said Ng about Jae and Saz.

“(BTS) has really impacted my life a lot, even though they didn’t really do anything on their side except being amazing people.”

She cited the lyrics of band member Suga, which had helped her to cope with depression, among other issues.

“I feel like his words and his song… made me feel that I’m not alone and this is how I should really live my life to the fullest and not care about all these societal issues… actually they really inspire me as a person.”

Space to do what she loves

The youngest of three daughters, you might conclude that Ng, with her K-pop obsession and fanfiction writing, assumes the role of the family’s black sheep; her eldest sister works in the civil service while the other is studying to be a doctor.

“They were pretty sketchy about it,” said Ng, describing her parents’ attitude towards her writing.

Her mother confirmed this, saying that she’d had reservations, especially when it came to the late nights Ng was supposedly spending writing her stories.

“I constantly nagged her to rest and take care of her health… I initially doubted she was writing stories because she really loves to play,” said Ng’s mother.

Despite these initial qualms, the elder Ng said she has developed a sense of pride in her daughters work.

"I didn't know she was that proud of me," said Ng, as her mother clasped her hand.

The beaming mother said:

“Later I found out that it was true [that she was writing stories] and she even passed her stories to her sisters to read. Her sisters also said (Ng) has many fans online. So I went online to see and it was true!

It taught me that we must give our children space to do what they like.”

Image of Ng Kwok Ching and her mother Ng and her mother. Image by Andrew Koay

Stories of Us is a series about ordinary people in Singapore and the unique ways they’re living their lives. Be it breaking away from conventions, pursuing an atypical passion, or the struggles they are facing, these stories remind us both of our individual uniqueness and our collective humanity.

Top image by Andrew Koay

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