Light Wave


K-Pop Fans Take on Big Coal to Protect BTS’s ‘Butter Beach’ from New Plant

By Belal Awad · August 3, 2023

In brief…

  • Maengbang Beach, AKA 'Butter Beach' in South Korea, has become latest battleground for climate activists in Korea - led by KPOP fans.
  • Construction of a coal-burning power plant six miles from the beach has threatened the famed location, known as the backdrop for K-pop sensation BTS's 2021 album cover
  • The power plant is expected to release over 13 million tons of greenhouse gas annually.
  • The company behind the plant has remained silent in face of protests.
Kpop4 climate activists have mobilized to protect Butter Beach from a new coal-burning power plant six miles away.  KPop4Planet

South Korea’s Maengbang Beach, AKA the Butter Beach, has become a new rallying point for infamously active KPOP fandom.

The iconic beach, which gained international fame as the location for K-pop sensation BTS’s 2021 album cover shoot for their hit EP ‘Butter’ is, now under threat due to construction of a coal-burning power plant just six miles away. Fans and climate activists have joined forces to protect the site and draw attention to South Korea’s over reliance on coal.

The power plant, developed by Samcheok Blue Power Co., is expected to release over 13 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to climate advocates.

Since the demonstrations began, the company has remained silent, further fueling the frustration of local protesters who gather daily to trumpet their concerns.

Lee Da-yeon, a member of the advocacy group Kpop4planet, stressed the importance of the issue, especially for the younger generation. “Most K-Pop fans are teenagers, and also in their 20s who are going to live in the future. So we sincerely care about the climate issue and climate change,” she told BloombergTV.

The construction of a new port for the plant has already caused coastal erosion, altering the once-idyllic view at Maengbang Beach. This has sparked concern among locals and tourists alike, many of whom visit the beach to see the now-iconic spot where BTS was photographed.

Government data compiled by Bloomberg indicates that between 2020 and 2025, South Korea will have added a total of 7.3GW in coal capacity, while only 3.6GW will be removed. By the end of 2024, Kangwon province, home to Butter Beach, will house ten coal units with a combined capacity of 7.7GW, accounting for nearly 20% of Korea’s total coal-power generation.

South Korea’s Energy Ministry declined to comment on the coal issue.