Dear K-Pop Industry and Fans,
Let me start by stating the obvious: It hasn’t been a good year for you.
2014 is going to go down as one of your darkest years. To be honest, it’s for good reason.
I’ve been a fan of your artists since the late 1990s. Over a decade of my life has been dedicated to you. I’ve seen the rise of H.O.T and Sechskies; I’ve seen their ends. I will forever stan Baby V.O.X as my favorite female group despite their scandals and unfortunate demise. Relatively quickly, I fell in love with B.A.P and became a dedicated fan with my undying love for Yongguk and Himchan. I’m still waiting for a Big Bang comeback and remain hopeful Wonder Girls will dominate once more despite Sohee leaving and Sun living in Haiti with her family.
Notice how I never mentioned stanning a company.
2014 has been a shocking year for you, Companies. I always suspected that, once the perfect makeup, sequins, aegyo, and glamour of the stage are stripped away, all that remains is a dark entity. With scandals exploding forth, you continue to show how cruel of a world and how shady of a business you are at the expense of the artists you signed.
The week of September 15 brought accusations of rape and sexual harassment by former trainees, reminding me of 2012’s Open World Entertainment scandal; the reemergence of the Nine Muses documentary showing the possible abuses against the then-trainees; and now the Star Empire Entertainment issue with ZE:A’s Junyoung (Lee Hoo) threatening to expose company issues. I hope somewhere along the line he does so everyone can see the issues that exist.
Let’s not forget Wu Yi Fan versus SM; how Korean fans feel YG Entertainment is covering up for Park Bom’s issues; actress Jang Jayeon’s 2009 suicide; and how many feel companies don’t do enough to protect artists following the accident that killed Ladies’ Code’s EunB and RiSe.
These massive scandals aside, let’s talk about what everyone knows about you:
- Idols may be forced to have plastic surgery before they debut in order to fulfill an ideal, often looking like fragile, mass-produced porcelain dolls. This even extends to your pageant contestants who many point out look too much alike.
- Many companies have food and weight restrictions for idols which often verge on unhealthy territory. Sarah Wolfgang, formerly of Tahiti, Ladies’ Code’s Sojung, and IU are among a few of the idols who’ve admitted to eating disorders (Writer’s Note: K-Crush’s September issue covers this topic more in-depth). How many more are there who haven’t come forward?
- Performance schedules are unrealistic. Thankfully, there are now some rules in place for minors. But overall, performers are often overworked running from show-to-show and doing everything you ask. Yes, this is their jobs, but artists shouldn’t be worked to illness like in the case of EXO’s Luhan and B2st’s Dongwoon recently.
- Artists do not get to see the money they make on album sales, concerts, and merchandise. There are times when artists see a small amount of money and have to split it among the members. The performers should be able to see more of their proceeds so they can support themselves and their families.
And these are the stories we know. What isn’t known about you is what’s the most frightening.
This is where I have an issue with you, K-Pop. I despise the treatment of many of your idols. They’re not robots. They’re not people who deserve to be abused. They’re people who should be free to pursue their dreams while you help promote them and provide the tools needed to succeed.
As an international bystander and supporter of your artists, it seems like you take advantage of the dreams of young people. These people will do anything to achieve their dreams even if it is wrong like the trainee who discussed rape allegations to eNews:
“I have to do what I’m told by my company, because if I don’t, they’ll release me.”
You take advantage of kids and young adults who want to succeed, who don’t want to be failures in the eyes of their families and society, then they are threatened to keep quiet or lose their dreams. Where is your shame, your humanity? What did these people do to earn the abuse?
Of course, this is not all companies… at least I hope it’s not.
And, there will be those who will defend your actions saying it “builds character” or “prepares the artists for the pressures of celebrity life. ”For that, I have to ask where these people’s hearts are and ask why the “glitz on stage” is better than the artists’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The artists endure company mistreatment and demands for their dreams and fans. Fans need to realize this and stand up for their artists.
My wish is for all fans to come together to stand against you, K-Pop companies, and for fans to realize their favorite artists deserve better. I hope fans will put aside their fandom-alliances, stop the fanwars for a while, and unite as one.
eNews World 24 conducted an interview with two former K-Pop trainees about abuse in the industry./ via Naver
While the artists perform for our happiness, we need to stand for them and their happiness to show we care about them as people. Please, fans, let your voices be heard for the fair and uncruel treatment of idols. Extend this cry for fair treatment to the actors and actresses in the industry, too. Let the companies know you will not stand for sexual, physical, or mental abuse.
I also hope the Korean National Assembly will look deeper into the issues plaguing you, K-Pop industry. They passed laws this year for minors and their schedules, but I hope an internal investigation occurs to put a stop to the shadiness. With this, I hope anyone who was and is abused by you will show their courage the way Junyoung and the anonymous trainees have to help shine a light and what goes on behind the scenes. I hope companies who show signs of wrongdoing will be taken down for the sake of the people behind the acts we fans love.
K-Pop industry, you need to see your artists as people. You need to help them, not hurt them. If you don’t change your ways, I will have to walk away from your world because I cannot support unfair treatment of idols or anyone else in the entertainment industry. I love the people our idols are, and I stand by them. Why won’t you?
Fans, will you stand beside your idols and show solidarity toward them and fair treatment? Do you love them enough to help them?