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Singer Goo Hara’s death shines light on dark side of K-pop

29 Comments
By JUWON PARK

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No dating allowed but she took her boyfriend to court for a sex tape?

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

The death of South Korean singer and actress Goo Hara, whose body was found at her home in Seoul this week, has again shone a spotlight on pressures that stars, especially females, face in the cutthroat K-pop industry and in deeply conservative South Korean society.

The combination of the K-pop machine, very distinct societal expectations and the insane online culture in South Korea seem like the perfect storm for situations like this. You can't take a kid, put them under immense pressure to succeed/perform from middle school on, then expose them to a fan base who will scrutinize their every move and demand conformity to an impossible ideal and NOT have mental health issues abound.

I mean, these kids barely sleep. They're constantly being careful, apologizing, vowing to do better over the silliest tiny things. They're isolated from their organic friends and family. Their corporate owners don't even pay them unless they get very successful, since "training" is covered. Of COURSE the performers are breaking down. It's a recipe for disaster.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

The way the K-pop machine is run is eerily similar to the way human trafficking is done. I wonder if any of these pop stars are voluntarily there at all.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

The worst part is that many Kpop fans are aware of the dark side of the industry and yet decide to support it anyway.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

She had everything. Youth, beauty, fame & wealth, but not the most valuable thing. Happiness.

RIP

13 ( +13 / -0 )

S. Korea needs to work on this issue. Keeps happening way too often.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

It is clear that the Kpop industry is failing on its duty of care. Korea sounds even worse than Japan regarding the expectations on idols. It is now understood that reality tv in the West too can have a very negative psychological effect on the people who appear. Huge instant stardom followed by discarding is the typical pattern.

In this particular case, it's hard to know the exact influence of molka, the stalking/revenge porn thing that is huge in Korea. That alone could have driven her to suicide irrespective of the pressures on her as a Kpop star.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I was very shocked when I heard this news. Because she was an idol since I was little. The group she was in is called KARA. I've been a very popular group since I was in elementary school. At that time, K-POP was popular in Japan and of course I listened to it. Among them, Mrs. Hara was my favorite person. No one would have thought that the person would die. I'm sure there were a lot of hardships and I felt like I was suffering alone. I don't know how she did not die or why she had to die. But I can only say that I was able to protect her, but no one was aware of it.That's why I felt that the idols suffered and died. I think the idols have to think anew that they are important people, not tools to make money. I wish you all the best.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

A problem for a society as a whole and a very sad problem at that. Pop stars enslaving themselves to a culture without future.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@Ayumu

Very well put. I've known a few people who've committed suicide over the years and it's really hard to look at each one and the different circumstances around each one and why they made the final decision. You'll knock yourself out trying to figure it out and at the end you come to the conclusion that these suicides are just really, really horrible decisions which they've made by themselves. Torture, be mental or physical, is why these people do what they do. My advice? That depends. For example, if it's an abusive husband, then I'd say to run as far away as possible and start over again. Easier said than done, I know, especially where kids are concerned, but anything is better than suicide.

This young lady, Goo Hara, probably should have run away from her career as a woman might from a really bad marriage. It's a shame that she made the decision she made without carefully considering far better options.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As with a lot of suicides these days, social media played a major part.

social media really is the scourge of modern society

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Suicides are for the vast majority irrational actions to find a solution to a life issue.

Revenge porn ? So small issue compare to learning you have a cancer or becoming physically handicapped, as examples.

And that pressure is nothing if you have kids that get such problems.

A mental environment built on sand cannot succeed. Parents fault first and society in general.

K-pop, J-pop : no liberty, no future.

Damned she was beautiful !

RIP

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Jonathan PrinToday 01:35 pm JST

Revenge porn ? So small issue compare to

For me and you maybe, you know the video will be seen by a few hundreds and forgotten between millions of similar videos in a few weeks. But for a public person like her you can be sure that it will be millions of views, her family, her friends, her country. It'll follow her for the rest of her life, it'll always be viewable easily on Internet. I wouldn't categorize that as a small issue.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

No dating allowed but she took her boyfriend to court for a sex tape?

They sign these contracts with no-dating clauses in them when they become members of a pop group (same with J-Pop acts), so she was probably subject to one early in her career. But solo artists like her usually aren't subject to the same contracts once they leave those groups, which would probably explain why she was able to have a boyfriend.

Stupid and insidious industry IMHO.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Too much pressure, restricted in every facet of her life. This is human-trafficking and exploitation of the highest degree, and it's like that with the 'teen pop' industry of boy bands and pop tarts. It sucks. It's sad and sickening.

Whatever happened to musicians being serious about music playing, anyway?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

For a democracy, S Korea sure hasn't shaken off its societal oppression of women.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Revenge porn ? So small issue compare to learning you have a cancer or becoming physically handicapped, as examples.

In your opinion. Many might prefer cancer - at least it can be treated in many. In some societies, the shame of revenge porn might make suicide a logical step. In others, your family might kill you out of honour.

You talk only for yourself, not others.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Jonathan Prin

Suicides are for the vast majority irrational actions to find a solution to a life issue.

Revenge porn ? So small issue compare to learning you have a cancer or becoming physically handicapped, as examples.

With all due respect this is absolutely wrong. Each life issue is a problem in its own right. We aren't all built the same. Some of us can't take the weight others do.

For example, I'm diagnosed with fairly bad OCD (pure O). Compared to, say, cancer, or being handicapped, it's obviously not as bad. But you have no idea how decimating, soul sucking and torturing it is.

What I'm trying to say is, don't underplay or disrespect people with mental issues. Simple analogy.

A computer can function perfectly, albeit in limited form, without a screen (eyes), mouse (hands), or keyboard (legs). It can't, function, however, with a problematic or simply flawed central processor/CPU (mind).

6 ( +6 / -0 )

has again shone a spotlight on pressures that stars, especially females, face in the cutthroat K-pop industry and in deeply conservative South Korean society.

Change ‘K-pop’ to ‘J-pop’ and change ‘South Korean society’ to ‘Japanese society’ and the rest of the article still suits.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Tom

No dating allowed but she took her boyfriend to court for a sex tape?

Yes. she has a right to a private life no matter what these ridiculous contracts try to enforce.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

...dark side of K-pop

How exactly does it differ from the dark side of J-Pop? K-Pop is clearly modeled after J-Pop.

Same girl idol groups. Same boy bands. Same competition. Same societal pressures. Same draconian contracts. Same crooked management. Plus, J-Pop had that huge pedophile, Johnny Kitagawa, until he fortunately passed away recently.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

@garypen

That's like saying because Korea was a colony of Japan for 35 years they are exactly the same.... Not!

Koreans might have copied alot from Japan including culture wise, but they are very different in what they believe and how they act and behave.

Another fun fact, J-pop is more relax than Kpop. Also Japanese don't bully 24/7 on social media until suicide happens. That's the reason why JPOP is left behind and KPOP is still rising. More pressure on KPOP stars than Japan.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

For a democracy, S Korea sure hasn't shaken off its societal oppression of women.

I can think of at least one other major Asian democracy with a very real systemic societal oppression of women.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

There was a few things that seemed to push her over the edge. The boyfriend sounds evil. He made a sex video without her consent then blackmailed her by threatening to release it to the public. Then after that went public, a company that endorsed her dropped her. Privacy is one of the things high profile people value because they have very little. The public scrutiny can be ruthless sometimes. Sad.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is sad that people get themselves into situations where they feel that suicide is the only way out. She wasn’t super young and experienced a decade of success in the music industry. The answer to all of the public pressure was for her to retire from the spotlight and reclaim her private life.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For a democracy, S Korea sure hasn't shaken off its societal oppression of women.

Not all cultures have to be like those in Scandinavia.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"For a democracy, S Korea sure hasn't shaken off its societal oppression of women."

Not all cultures have to be like those in Scandinavia.

No. But, all cultures have to treat all people with equality, fairness, and respect regardless of gender, race, religion (or lack thereof), age, appearance, or sexual orientation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Its very sad. It happens a lot. I saw an item on the news showing a mom really excited to have her 14 yr old son make it to k pop stardom. They are to young and cant handle all the stress. Please stop the suicides.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@garypen: No. But, all cultures have to treat all people with equality, fairness, and respect regardless of gender, race, religion (or lack thereof), age, appearance, or sexual orientation.

Every culture must be the same when it comes to basic human relations? Shouldn’t we respect other cultures?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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