8 Disturbing Truths about the KPOP Industry
Korean pop, more widely known as Kpop, has been taking over the world for the past decade or so. It has a massive fan following and no matter how impressive the lives of Korean pop starts seem, there is a disturbing reality which many aren’t aware of.
Here are 10 lesser known facts about the KPOP industry:
1. Idols are not allowed to date until they are 29.
Many KPOP entertainers are expected to sign an idol dating clause by their agencies. This is essential in order to preserve the image of the idols, a real-life relationship can lead to scandal and rumours that the agency believes can reflect poorly on the company.
2. KPOP artists are expected to perform while injured.
KPOP entertainers are expected to perform through the pain. According to SBS Pop Asia, one of the members of the girl band Stellar once came onstage wearing a neck brace.
3. Stars sign their lives away.
Management agencies in South Korea offer binding contracts to potential artists, sometimes at a young age. Trainees live together in a regulated environment and spend around 20 hours a day learning music, dance, foreign languages and other skills in preparation for their debut.
4. Agencies pay for everything. If a trainee wants to quit, he/she will have to pay everything back
All the costs of training, vocal coaches, flights, foods, accommodation, clothes is paid by the agency who signs the contract. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported that the cost of training one “idol” under S.M. Entertainment averaged US $3 million.
5. Korean idols will not be paid any money until they pay off all their debt
For example, if it cost the label 1 Million USD to train the members before their debut, they will not get paid until they pay off the entire 1 million dollars to the agency. Some companies, such as SM and JYP Entertainment, do not make their newly debuted groups pay their trainee debt back.
6. Good looks are extremely important to become a Korean celebrity
Besides some idols undergoing the infamous plastic surgeries and cosmetic enhancements, many, if not all of them, must follow strict diet plans and limit their food intakes in order to maintain a certain weight, especially before a performance. During the monthly trainee evaluations, some companies even record the weight and body fat percentage of the KPop stars to monitor their diet progress!
7. Stars have no privacy and often get stalked by saesang fans.
The sasaeng fans are known to be highly territorial and have been known to attack other fans who dare to get close to or make physical contact with their idol. In the most extreme cases, some sasaeng fans would pretty much devote their entire lives to stalking their idols, quitting school and even resorting to prostitution in order to afford special taxi services to follow their idols!
8. KPop groups commonly have dedicated fan clubs with a collective name and sometimes an assigned colour
For example, TVXQ fans are known as ‘Cassiopeia’, and their official colour is ‘pearl red’.
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