K-Pop artists: Idols or Slaves?
Usually, we consider artists the most “free” of the professionals, their freedom giving a push to their creativity and talent, but with K-Pop artists, it’s quite contrary. The pop artists are not just regulated and controlled, but they are ghettoized to an extent that the surveillance upon them does not even leave their diets or their already negligible free-time.
The Underbelly of K-Pop Entertainment Industry
White shining faces, blonde silky hair, slim bodies, and sensational talent……that’s how we know the “idols”.
Yes, K-pop industries’ young-teenage artists are more popularly called “idols”, and adding more to the fact, they often pay a price for that.
We are accustomed to seeing the cheerful, Korean beauties performing and intermingling with everyone in the entertainment industry and people dying to label themselves as their fans and friends because of their alluring physical beauty and attractive personality.
K-Pop industry, however, has many dark alleys which these young talents have to pass through to reach the stage –in front of the world, almost every day. This must have reminded you of some Madhur Bhandarkar Bollywood masala like Heroine or Fashion which shows the dark side of entertainment industry. But let me tell you, what these Korean (and Japanese) pop artists suffer is much more exploitative, unfair, and unfortunate.
Currently, the most famous K-pop band is BTS whose members are as talented as they are cute (and there’s no denying that we fall for their cuteness as much as their talent). Boy-band BTS remind me of One Direction which split two years back and left quite a lot of fans heartbroken.
But be happy because BTS can’t split up even if the members wanted to. The reason is that all K-Pop (and J-pop) artists are bound with contracts which disallow them to leave the producing company or the group on their wish. Would you call this slavery? Just wait, there’s more for you.
K-Pop artists were once held synonymous to “corporate slaves” for the contracts that regulate not only their professional, but personal lives too. These artists are not allowed to marry or even to date someone without the permission of the company. Similar conditions are faced by J-pop idols, that is the pop artists in Japan.
“The "no dating" clause of the contracts has resulted in some idols being sued for breaking it, accused of damaging their reputations. Two years ago Minami Minegishi from popular girl band AKB48 shaved her head and wept in apology, after breaking management firm rules by spending a night with her boyfriend.” Reports BBC.
Usually, we consider artists the most “free” of the professionals, their freedom giving a push to their creativity and talent, but with K-Pop artists, it’s quite contrary. The pop artists are not just regulated and controlled, but they are ghettoized too, to an extent that the surveillance upon them does not even leave their diets or their already negligible free-time.
According to a report, apart from the contracts, K-pop artists are bound with very strict schedules, diet plans, and unusually long work hours, where they work for 19-20 hours a day. The exploitation is not restricted to this only but stretches itself to verbal abuse and dis-allowance of the artists’ parents to interfere between the production company and the artist.
This certainly doesn’t remind me of any celebrity, neither in India nor in the West. It rather reminds me of child labor or slave labor everywhere. The building where these K-pop artists reside are usually very cramped kind of dwellings with very poor working and living conditions.
Neither do these strict schedules and working conditions ensure good money. According to one of the K-Pop artists, Prince Mac, a band gets only 10% of the total earning while the company gets 90% of it. In some cases the ratio is 20-80, which means that each band member gets only 2% of the total earnings.
The unusual diet plans, the racial discrimination that comes in the share of foreign artists (Chinese, Japanese, etc.), and the stress and slave-like environment have forced many artists to commit suicide due to stress and depression which is a constant side-effect of the unprecedented popularity that this Billion-dollar industry of K-Pop ensures.
Those who are strong enough and don’t take their own lives suffer from diet disorders, depression, mental and physical illnesses, and even dangerous fans who can even abduct these artists from the stage!
These K-Pop artists are constantly forced by producers to undergo plastic surgeries and keep enhancing their physical beauty at any cost to increase their career prospects.
The degrees up to which these K-Pop artists face discrimination and exploitation is unimaginable to you and me. It’s a sad reality what an entertainer, an artist face in his/her endeavor to keep giving the audience the perfect product.
Audience’s desires know no bounds and for that, these K-Pop idols are paying a very high price, much, much higher than what a ticket (or all the tickets, for that matter) that are sold out of their concerts may cost.
After all, they are just teenagers, who are being devoid of many things that shape the crucial years of any individual’s life.
Teenage is not meant for this, neither for being an idol, nor for being a slave.