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K-Pop’s Dark Side

2013 K-POP World Festival in Changwon October 20, 2013 Changwon-si, Gyengsangnam-do Related Articles Cheong Wa Dae K-Pop World Festival unites global fans -English K-Pop World Festival unites global fans -中文 “2013 K-POP世界庆典” 用K-POP连结全世界 -Vietnamese Cả thế giới hội tụ tại “K-pop World Festival 2013” -日本語 「Kポップワールド・フェスティバル2013」、Kポップで世界が一つに -Deutsch „K-Pop World Festival” bringt internationale Fans zusammen -Francais Un festival mondial de la K-Pop 2013 de haute volée -Russian K-Pop World Festival объединяет фанатов со всего мира -Arabic المهرجان العالمي للبوب الكوري يوحد الجماهي Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Korean Culture and Information Service Jeon Han -------------- 2013 제3회 K-POP 월드페스티벌 2013-10-20 경상남도, 창원시 문화체육관광부 해외문화홍보원 코리아넷 전한


K-pop is huge, not in my world, but it certainly is huge in the world in general. It’s a massive industry making billions, yes billions of dollars during times when the music industry is failing and records don’t sell anymore? In this article from last year, Music Business World Wilde reports that K-Pop superstars Super Junior won nearly 31.4 billion just in the first half of last year, followed by Girls’ Generation who made 30.3 billion, Big Bang who made 29.4 billion and finally 2NE1 grossing nearly 27.5 billion! How is this even possible? And the average yearly income of K-Pop singers income is increasing each year (72.2 % in average between 2010 and 2013) defying all the bad statistics documenting the fall of the music industry. I don’t know how many of these boy/girl bands do exist, there is certainly no shortage of them in Asia, although we are barely aware of their existence here.

However, there is a big dark secret behind K-Pop, the contracts these poor kids sign to become huge stars are borderline slavery! I was not aware of this until recently but reading about K-Pop is truly scary. The stars are tied to a record company and this comes with a lot of control over their own lives and little financial rewards.

Many singers are for example not allowed to date, as they basically belong to the angry and possessive fans! They are threatened with fines if they disobeyed to the contract, and are not even allowed sick leaves when needed. According to this blog, ‘former Super Junior member Han Geng claimed SM Entertainment forced him to do things he didn’t want to’.

Plus there is the whole process of being ‘discovered’ which means going through a selection process, a rigorous training during which producers design the band according to a specific look they have in mind, making their herd dance and dance till ‘perfection’ or rather exhaustion: ‘One Singaporean woman, picked out at a mass audition by a Korean talent scouting firm, revealed to that trainees are expected to work 14-hour days to practice gym, dance, swimming, and singing.’ If it is not slavery I don’t know what it is!

Of course they have to be very fit and slim and their food intake is seriously monitored: ‘Breakfast is limited to low-fat biscuits, bananas, and lettuce. Chicken breast and salad are served for dinner, and no water is allowed after 7:00 PM to prevent “bloatedness.” They’re not even allowed to the bathroom without a companion and sunglasses must be worn at all times, apparently.’

No water? This can’t be healthy! There are also numerous stories of plastic surgery (obviously) and sadly, sexual abuse, which goes with the rest of this crazy training… and I am barely scratching the surface.

We certainly have our disposable money-generating machines in the US but it seems K-Pop has reached another level of absurdity, and this insane industry is only able to generate the most generic pop music ever. Not worth it!

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