You are a K-Pop fan, aren’t you? That’s why you’re here to know more about the K-Pop world. Here is the thing, the K-Pop world isn’t as glamorous and shiny as it appears to most of us. You might ask, Why? Because behind all the shimmer, designer clothes, new hairstyles, accessories, money, and the seemingly cool life, lies a lot of hard work, and sacrifices. K-Pop idols have reached the place they’re presently at because they have worked non-stop towards their goal and have given up on a lot of things that they liked, in order to be accepted by their company.
Like it or not, the companies under which K-Pop idols debut, have a lot of influence on the career of the idols’ lives. Their talent and passion aren’t enough to lift them in the entertainment industry. They need the support of their company to do that. Some idols are lucky enough to find a suitable and fair company, one who treats them properly. But, there are others, the unfortunate ones. Their companies treat them in horrible ways. There have been many times when their nasty ways to exploit their K-Pop idols had been exposed to the media and public.
Mistreatment of K-Pop Idols
Fans have supported those idols who opened up about the bad experiences that they faced under their companies. Infact, there are many instances when fans themselves spoke up about the misbehaviour their idols were subject to due to their companies. There are fan pages supporting idols, and backing them up. The irony comes into play when we get information about fans disrespecting, and invading the personal space of their idols. There have been cases of sexual harassment of both male and female idols. K-Pop Idols are under everyone’s eyes almost every hour of their lives.
K-Pop idols are kept under strict surveillance by their company. They get weight check everyday, eat minimal food, and practice for atleast 10 hours. Imagine trying to handle working out with these conditions in order to gain muscle to be physically more attractive to the public. There are numerous times when idols have to perform on stage and participate in promotional events even when they are not feeling well. They might be having serious problems which wouldn’t come to the fans’ notice. We never know what kind of pain idols are hiding behind their precious smiles. Fact to be revealed, K-Pop is basically squeezing talent and work out of idols for their companies to earn as much profit as they can. Here is a list of some of the mistreated K-Pop Idols.
‘A-Jax’ disbanded on March 31st of the year 2019. The group debuted under DSP Media. After their debut, ‘A-Jax’ gained popularity and were treated better by their company. But, as if the popularity they had already gained wasn’t enough, the company left them with no work at all.
They were left hanging by their company for 4 years and eventually had to disband. That is one sad ending for a group that had the potential to grow.
‘BOYFRIEND’, under the Starship Entertainment, was well received by the people. But they weren’t treated well by their company.
One of the group members, Jeongmin, revealed that even though he was allowed to write songs, all his songs were given to ‘MONSTA X’.
Yes! You got it right. This is the K-Pop Group that ‘Park Hyung Sik’ belongs to. The group debuted in the year 2010. After their debut they gained a big enough fan base. But after that, their company, Star Empire Entertainment, had totally been ignoring the group as a whole. A few of the members made their debut as actors and variety show entertainers, but their contract with the company expired in January 2017.
Since then, some of the members have signed with different companies, while the trajectory that the rest of the members took, remains unknown. Although the group hasn’t disbanded even after the contract with their company expired, their fan base has been decreasing and the overall popularity of the group has gone down.
The eight membered girl-group debuted under ‘FENT Entertainment’ in 2018. On September 16 2021, four of its members were doing there V LIVE when the staff bended the camera to show off the legs of the member more. On noticing this, another member of the group gave them a jacket to cover their legs so that they don’t feel uncomfortable. The staff then called her an idiot and scolded her for covering up their legs. The members doing the ‘V LIVE’ were extremely nervous and gave away the jacket.
This is mistreating and sexualising the girl-group members. For this, FENT Entertainment issued an apology. But there should have been action taken against the staff members which didn’t happen.
J. Tune Camp, ‘MADTOWN’s original company’, sold all its management rights and contracts to G.N.I. Entertainment in 2016.After this, the mistreatment of the members of MADTOWN by G.N.I. Entertainment started. As revealed by a member later, the company didn’t provide them with transportation facilities. They even had to pick up their staff and buy them food with their own money without getting any sort of compensation. G.N.I. didn’t even pay for their rental.
In 2017, after their CEO was arrested for fraud, MADTOWN sued G.N.I. Entertainment.
‘B.A.P.’ is another K-Pop group that sued its company. The members of the company said that they were being mistreated by their company, T.S. Entertainment. Infact, the members of the group were quite vocal about the mis-management and mistreatment that they were facing caused by their company.
At one fan sign event, when asked about a new album release, a member of the group said that they had tried talking to the company about it but were ignored.
‘Amber’ once talked about the mistreatment she received while she was working in SM Entertainment. They tried to fit her into the K-Pop Beauty Standards. She has to do difficult things like lightening her skin colour, losing weight, and other stuff that she wasn’t comfortable with. In fact, because of how the company was so obsessed with her losing weight, Amber developed severe eating disorders.
If this doesn’t speak about the unrealistic and harmful beauty standards of the K-Pop industry, we don’t know what does.
One of the most well known cases of K-Pop idol mistreatment is that of ‘NU’EST’. ‘NU’EST’, and ‘SEVENTEEN’ are under the same company, Pledis. Yet, the treatment that both the groups were given vary. so much so, that they were seen using public transportation while going to their concert venue. ‘NU’EST’ was doing pretty well for a new K-Pop idol group, but Pledis Entertainment didn’t value the group as much as they should’ve, keeping in mind the potential of the group.
Making their fans wait in Korea, ‘NU’EST’ was almost compelled to promote and produce in Japan. While the group was put off to promote in Japan, they started losing fans in Korea. After ‘SEVENTEEN’ debuted and was able to grab the attention of numerous people, ‘NU’EST’ entered the ‘Mnet Survival Show Produce X 101’ where people finally realised how bad the group was treated by their company.
TRCNG made their debut in 2017 under TS Entertainment. In November 2019, two of its membered filed complaint against three of their staff members for child abuse and injury resulting from violence. Their company denied the happenings, but the members had physical documentation of their injuries and medical treatments that they received at that time. Other members had witnessed the same.
A staff from the TS Entertainment was also caught abusing a member of their group for doing an unscheduled V LIVE without permission. After two of the members quit the group, a whole new mistreatment scandal was released. Dispatch let out pictures of the poor living conditions of the group. Their company didn’t provide them with dorms, didn’t pay their bills, and even stole money from them.
‘Wendy of Red Velvet’
‘Wendy from Red Velvet’ has been kept under watch for her weight and forced to go on diets to fit the K-Pop beauty standards. Once, during a live, fans noticed their manager keeping an eye on Wendy and Seulgi and Wendy wasn’t eating the ice-cream and just staring at it. She seemed like she was scared to eat. This broke her fans’ heart as they realised that Wendy had been kept on a diet. The K-Pop industry should stop with its unrealistic beauty standards.
Although we are quite sure that there are many more cases of mistreatment faced by K-Pop idols, this is it for our list. We hope that conditions change and K-Pop don’t have to face abuse and exploitation anymore. They deserve better than this.