Recently Dongho, a member of the group UKiss, quit Kpop. He is, by far, not the only one. I talked about JYJ and them rebelling against their “slave contract” a few posts ago. There are also members that have quit from very popular groups Super Junior and KARA. I really can’t blame any of them.
For those of us in North America when we think of celebrities and pop music performers we think money, luxury and partying. I remember an old show “cribs” where celebrities would offer tours of their houses and it would be one person living in a house worth millions of dollars. And what did these people do to get all of this money? They would spend a year working on an album, or waiting for their label to come up with an album, and spend a couple months recording it. Then they would promote their song, maybe have a couple gigs a week and then go home to their ridiculous mansions and rake in the money. Now, I know that there are exceptions to this rule, some of these people work hard, but it is true for some. That is never how it works with Kpop idols.
First, Kpop Idols have INSANE schedules. During their promotion times they do multiple shows a day. They basically live in their vans and get carted from place to place to perform like monkeys. Only, I would treat an animal better than these people are! In North America you always hear about celebrities crazy demands for their dressing room, like “I want exactly 7.5 oranges but it must be from Australia and be this shade of orange!” Kpop Idols are lucky if they get a dressing room. If you follow them on Instagram you can see postings of Kpop groups sleeping in a group on the floor, or randomly sleeping in strange places. Then the fan girls squee and aww about it saying its cute. That is not cute, that is freaking uncomfortable. And, they are just fed whatever is around whether it is cheap delivery or convenience store food.
You might be thinking, but this is just during their promotion times! It only lasts a couple weeks and then they are done! Not so much. For one, promotion times for songs seem to last a lot longer in Korea, more than a month. Also, even when they aren’t promoting they are still constantly training and they don’t even have their own space to go home to. They all live in dorms together. And god forbid one of them gains some weight or their company decides they don’t like something about their face. Kpop Idols go on crazy diets all the time. Park Bom, for example, was criticized for being fat. At worst she had, maybe, 10 extra pounds. So she went on this “awesome” diet where all she ate was lettuce and corn. She was actually praised for it. That is both extremely unhealthy and a truly terrible example to set. But if these idols don’t conform to how their companies want them to look some are forced, by contract, to get plastic surgery.
Lastly, there are the “fans”. I say fans with quotation marks because the people I am about to describe are not real fans, they are straight up crazy. People online or “Netizens” as they are called in Korea are vicious. They will often find pictures of Idols and circle any imperfections in red and posting it, fueling what happens in the above chapter. And lord help the Kpop idol if the netizens find out they have a girlfriend or boyfriend. When it has even been suspected death threats were pouring in for the significant other. Then there are the “Sasaeng” which means stalker. These people spend their entire lives following around the Kpop Idols. They have been known to break into their dorms or apartments, leave excrement or used feminine products in or by their houses, and there have even been attempted kidnappings.
All in all, I am pretty sure being a Kpop Idol sucks. The living conditions probably get better after the group gets popular and established, I doubt that the members of Big Bang still live in a dorm together. But they still had to go through it when they started and they still deal with the crazy fans and schedule. So I am just really grateful to my favorite groups for putting up with it and I have no hard feelings towards the people who quit. All of this said would you put up with it to be a Kpop Idol? I sure as heck wouldn’t.