For four days, Kim Hee Chul has been in Twitter's Trends list. But who is Kim Hee Chul and why is everyone tweeting about him?

As a member of the K-pop group Super Junior, and actor in popular teen dramas like Bad Family and Golden Bride, Hee Chul has been a household name in South Korea for over five years.

But most Americans don't listen to Super Junior, have never seen Bad Family, and think Kim Hee Chul is some kind of pickled vegetable dish.

What sparked the Twitter Trends spike? First came the drawings, then came the questions.
On Saturday, October 9th, Hee Chul, (@heedictator on Twitter) posted drawings of himself and other K-pop stars created with the Uface character sketching iPhone app.

Super Junior fans went wild for the sketches, driving the pop star's name up Twitter's trending list. By Sunday, K-pop blogs like AllKpop and Daily Kpop News caught on to the action. Reports like theirs further promoted the trend.

Others, piggybacking on the 10/10/10 craze, declared it Kim Hee Chul Day.

Fully aware of the attention he was getting, Hee Chul responded to tweets from fans, posted more photos, and created a Facebook page.

He has too many friend requests to accept any more, and he has currently only accepted one from someone named Min Lee.

The second wave of tweets came from outsiders unaware of who or what a Kim Hee Chul is.
@Motley_Su: Every time I see the "Kim Hee Chul" trend, I keep thinking "Kim Chee Hell"
@Rick Swartz:
Thanks to twitter, I know that Kim Hee Chul is a singer and benevolent ruler of Asia. His followers are also friendlier than Justin Bieber's

Super Junior have been at the forefront of the growing popularity of the K-pop genre internationally and within the US. K-Pop fans aside, another 4 million people have already viewed the dancing Philippine prison inmates performing a choreographed number to the song 'Sorry, Sorry' in 2009.
The comparisons to Justin Bieber are apt. Bieber dominated the Twitter Trends list for months last spring before the site tweaked the algorithm to only feature those topics with sharp spikes rather than continuous masses of tweets, meaning that how long Kim Hee Chul will remain on the Trends list is uncertain.

@ChiyoTeukie: Who said Kim Hee Chul is Asian Justin bieber??? No Freaking Way!!! Kim Hee Chul is so much better than that KID <333
@RannoELF
Who the hill is Justin fuckin Bieber next to our Kim Hee Chul i didn't want to talk about that kid but they got on my nerv i really hate it
@Cthoaang
No. Jus no . Don't be going around saying Kim Hee Chul is the asian Justin Bieber . Or youll face the wrath of Kpop Fandom . <3
On Facebook, the group We think Super Junior are better than Justin Bieber has over 3,000 likes. The fan page's sister site ~Super Junior are much better than Justin Bieber~ has over 16,000 likes, although both sites have existed for months before the Kim Hee Chul Twitter craze.


In the sake of fairness, I compared Twitter volume between Bieber and Kim Hee Chul using Trendistic. Hee Chul's fans (known as Elfs) are pushing to keep him trending for as long as possible. At its peak at 3:00 AM on Sunday, the trend reached 0.21%. Justin Bieber tweets often fall below 0.15%, averaging around 0.3%, climbing as high as 1.3% of all tweets in September during the VMA's.

Although Kim Hee Chul's place on the Trends list is largely in the hands of the post-Bieber algorithm, whether or not his the total volume of his tweets will exceed Justin's relies entirely on the tenacity of the Elfs.