The Disturbing Side of K-pop

Updated: May 10



K-pop artists are the perfection of fame, beauty, and wealth. K-pop stars represent what we all wish to become in our minds. To be beautiful, have that perfect dance move and voice. To have millions of fans and make those billions in the entertainment industry and be sponsored by well-known brands.


However, perfection does not come without a price. In fact, nothing comes without a price. K-pop stars have all paid their dues for that perfect appearance on screen. Their sacrifice has been so great that news leaked of the inhumane treatment these stars endure for the sake of fame and wealth. This is the disturbing side of K-pop amidst the manicured beauty and glamour.


Grueling Training Period


The K-pop stars we admire on-screen have all gone under a grueling period of training before we are allowed to see them. An agency may have already begun training these star proteges while they were adolescents. They were kept away from the public’s eyes and trained hard behind closed doors for 10 to 15 years.


The trainers are allowed to take maximum advantage of the trainees under the law. These have caused tough rules that caused these K-pop trainees to crack under mental pressure. They were sometimes not allowed to sleep.


These trainee stars have to be mentally strong to last the training period. They are often criticised, fat-shamed, and may even be sexually abused. They are to keep their ideal weight at 46 kg.


Big entertainment labels have high standards for their artists and some are dropped if they showed no improvements or achieve goals set for them. The trainees are even made to compete against each other to secure their spot in the final phase of the training process.


Extreme Dieting


Many former K-pop star trainees have revealed the struggles they went through to attain the perfect weight. One of them shared that she had starved for 10 years because trainees under 163 cm height had to reach the debut weight of 38 kg.


She also claimed that the companies set up CCTV at their dormitory to monitor their lives and to constantly check on their refrigerators. They had to secretly eat and then to throw up after eating.


Many K-pop idols have also confessed that they have to check their weights regularly and they will be punished if they were to exceed their weight limit. Due to having to reduce their weight, many K-pop stars developed eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.


Struggle with making money


Although K-pop stars look like they make a lot of money, the truth is, they have to pay off their debt when they start working. Former K-pop star Prince Mak revealed on his YouTube channel that idols have to repay the amount invested in them during their training period from accommodations, food, and production.


It was also revealed in 2016 that AOA did not get paid until after 3 years of their debut. Besides, only those who are popular enough can get lucrative advertisement deals. The less popular ones can only rely on albums, ticket sales, or appearance fees, all of which do not pay a lot.


Not allowed to date


Since K-pop artists are almost entirely groomed by the agencies, all aspects of their lives are controlled by their company, including their love lives. K-pop stars are not allowed to date. They are not even allowed to date each other because being single makes them a lot more accessible to their fans.


The consequences of dating can be harsh. Idols such as Hyuna and e’Dawn were dismissed from their companies after they were found to be dating. In 2014, EXO’s Baekhyun and Girl’s Generation Taeyeon had to break up and apologise to their fans for hurting their feelings when their relationship became public.


So it isn’t all glam and no pain behind the lives of these beautiful and cheery-looking K-pop stars. These harsh treatments saw some popular stars take their own lives, from Sulli to Goo Hara.


Music helps us regulate our emotions. But when the pressure of fame and money comes in, music is no longer something we do to enjoy ourselves and with those around us.


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