What it means to be a female idol in South Korea.

(Trigger Warning: I speak about sexual assault and suicide. Please do not read if you can’t. Thank you.)

South Korea is notorious for its’ music industry: most notably dubbed ‘K-Pop’ or Korean Pop. Kpop has been topping charts worldwide and obtaining awards for many things. Under the glitz and glam of this colorful music comes with a price though. Girl groups in South Korea have always been scrutinized for the harsh systems trainees must go through. Whether it be weight, facial appearance, or overall skill sets: the system only has room for one look. The industry rears its ugly face rarely and only when a few people take a stand and speak for themselves.

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Before we can talk about the music industry, we have to briefly look at the culture in South Korea. In Asia, especially Korea, there has always been an influx of skin whitening products, plastic surgery, and extreme dieting. In fact, as a graduation gift, many mothers gift their daughters money to get eyelid surgery. Another problem with the industry is that people can anonymously send hate threats and comments without there being any consequences. Something even more heinous is that those who sexually or physically abuse get away with barely any charges. This brings us to female idols. (Let’s get into the tea.)

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(Photo Credit: Giphy)

 In some way, like all celebrity culture, many look up to their idols for the ‘standard’. Unfortunately, they don’t usually set a good example. Many agencies force their girls to be at the maximum 50 kilograms (110 lbs.) before they can even be accepted as a trainee. It’s sad that most people worry about how these girls look without even acknowledging their skills.

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(photo credit: Youtube)

Many people just want the chance to debut. Their days of basically torture and maybe even sexual harassment are all norms in the kpop industry. Trainers force these girls to the brink that some even commit suicide. Even those who have been in the industry for a decade harm themselves because of the pressure it takes to be cookie-cutter perfect. Take, for example, the recently deceased Goo Hara (rest in peace, angel). She has been a kpop veteran and actress for a while but in the past year, news broke out that her ex-boyfriend had sexually abused, physically assaulted, and blackmailed her. It took a huge toll on her but she tried her best to fight for her case and harsher punishments in these sexual assaults. Not much happened to her ex and she tried committing suicide right after the trial. Luckily, it didn’t go through and she still fought for greater punishments during trials. Sadly, she took her own life this past week after these hard few months. 

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(Photo Credit: FirstPost)

It is sad to see so many take their own lives due to the pain and hellish backlash from people. Here in the United States, many encourage others to follow their passions and if someone did something it was not a big deal. Imagine in South Korea, dating is labeled with the word ‘scandal’ and people get endless hate because of it. Last year, a popular idol named Hyuna (you might know her from Gangnam Style) was kicked out of her agency  due to dating someone in the company. No wonder girls are too scared to fight back in a place that uplifts patriarchy. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like South Korea and I love its food but nothing will ever make me respect this country and the industry until they start doing something about these problems. How many more tears, heartache, and lives does it take to get something done. Just food for thought.

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(Photo Credit: Giphy)

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