entertainment

Star's suicide highlights dark side of the K-pop dream

21 Comments
By Jung Ha-Won

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I have to agree with @Alex80.

I have been listening to Kpop for over 5 years now and I have seen it all. The whole industry is insane. The fans are insane. Anyone can be a Kpop star as long as you are somewhat pretty. If you don't believe me, look around any band and see how they were formed. You'd see that a lot of the members were picked up from the streets. For example, Sana from the insanely popular group TWICE. She was scouted in the streets while shopping with her friends.

Got7 Mark was scouted for his face in California during his high school years...He's not even Korean nor any talent. He had his face.

Time and time again the industry factory produce these bands in hoping that one will randomly make it with luck. They are all made the same way. The more kids you put in one band, the more chances of someone being a fan. The worst part is how they have to pretend to enjoy everything they are doing, always smiling, fake personalities, fake relationships and all. Yet the fans are the main reason. They are so delusional that I cannot stand it myself anymore. Their band of choice is always the "best, most talented, deserving". Case in point BTS. To me they are just another boy band with no actual talent, yet they are the most popular. They do nothing special over the others. If you aren't #1, you'll have fans fighting over each other at who's the best. I'm sure these people don't even actually listen to the music anymore, and they are all in for the fake personalities.

Read interviews by Jay Park. He used to be in 2PM an extremely popular boy band. He talks about how companies kill any unique personality, individuality anyone has, in favor of trends. Read interviews, watch videos of ex band members on youtube, they'll all tell you how sad the Kpop industry really is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@smith: I repeat:

by "Asian standards" I meant "by Asian standards of beauty" (their kind of make up, hairstyle and color hair, skin treatment, sometimes blatant plastic surgery for V shape face, etc.) English isn't my first tongue so I am sorry if I wasn't clear enough.

But seriously, If you want to continue to think I dislike Asian race it's just because you want to accuse me to be racist at this point, when I am not. I said I don't have any kind of problem with Asian people, but apparently you have some problems with me.

About AKB48: Anyone, not only you, should stop compare AKB48 kind of groups with Kpop groups or also Japanese groups like E-girls, because the concept is totally different, in AKB48 they want beginners, this is their format.

You are free to disagree with me, and I am free to disagree with you, about talent. I don't know if it's a cultural difference or personal opinion only, but manufactured singers and groups (no matter if Japanese, Korean, American, etc.) aren't what I call the best example of natural and genuine talent. I was never into Take That and Backstreet Boys also when I was a little girl. And I continue to think that today there's a big lack of great artists if compared to other decades. I can't think about a single artist today, that will remain in history.

In Italy, there's an interesting case. "IL VOLO" are a group of young singers who sing pop-opera. Do you know what? They are way more loved abroad, also in the United States, than in Italy, because many people consider them too much "manufactured" and they think they lack real talent. So, if you go to watch their videos on YouTube, you can see tons of dislikes, and they are mainly by Italian people. Many foreigner fans are not able to understand why so many Italians dislike "IL VOLO". I think they are pretty decent, but I can also understand why many people don't consider them genuine artists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Alex80: "@Smith: which racial discrimination? I wasn't speaking about "race", I was speaking about the beauty standards."

Yeah, "beautiful... for ASIANS".

"@Smith: you should also stop to compare K-pop bands to groups like AKB48, it's basically like you don't know that the concept behind these "artists" is completely different."

Wasn't me who made the original comparison, and it was you who added to it. So, maybe look in a mirror. Second, when comparing factory assembled bands it is entirely relevant. Third, you should be cheering and clapping because I said the Japanese side is more lenient when it comes to management, shouldn't you? Oh wait... I pointed out the facts that when it comes to actual talent, South Korea's got it. Sorry.

"I have any problem with Asian men, I don't care about their race and I am able to find some of them rather attractive,"

'I don't have any problem with THOSE PEOPLE'. It's all in your language, my friend. If you don't find Asians attractive, fine, but you clearly said they are not attractive by non-Asians standards. PERIOD. Let's quote you again: "They are untalented too. It's exactly because they are only good looking (not in my opinion, but according to Asian standards)..."

You constantly contradict yourself with the "This is that... but I'm not saying it is!" Just look at this, too: "Sadly, today everyone can become a "singer", because the market is accepting every kind of cheap manufactured thing, as long as it's "entertaining". I am not saying that this wasn't the case also in the 60s, 70s or 80s, but during those decades there was plenty also of REAL artists who wrote history music. I wonder where they are today."

See? There you go again. And as for the, "But back then there were REAL artists!" That is EVERY old person's argument about the young generation. There was plenty of bubble-gum pop back in the eras you mentioned, and there are plenty of artists with REAL talent today.

"Anyway, I am not saying I like this concept, I am only saying how it works."

Except you are wrong, again.

Educator60: "Ironically, just a day or so ago, I saw a feature on a Japanese news show about young Japanese girls/women who are going to Korea to study and train, go to auditions, etc. Some have been successful and become members of K-Pop groups."

Not so ironic, really. The shift over the last decade here has been towards K-pop and Korean style in Japan, and so much so that some of my older friends complain their nieces/nephews "look like Koreans" with the make-up trends and not dying their hair (which is amusing). When I took a Hangul exam in Osaka in November almost all the people taking the test who were under 30 (which was most of the examinees) looked like they were about to audition for K-pop. BUT, you have to keep in mind that a couple of decades ago more successful K-pop bands often styled themselves (young ladies, anyway) after Japanese. Bottom line is they are more similar than people want to admit, and they borrow from and give to each other. If people would admit that and work together they could accomplish a lot more.

It's, as such, understandable that some young aspiring artists (talent) might seek to make their dreams come true over there, and it also opens a kind of niche market for bands with artists from both countries (like "Twice", I think their names is, which also has a Taiwanese member), so they can be popular in both off the bat.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@Azrul Hakim: if what you described in your post is true (I don't know K-pop bands names), it confirms my point further. Those singers who decided to leave their bands, maybe could FINALLY develop themselves as artists outside the flock, but apparently they can't find their own way without being condemned by the Korean system. I don't see like in such environment genuine talents can bloom and develop their personal qualities.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Nerakai: a talented singer don't need to be an "entertainer". Honestly, it's this kind of mindset that is bringing us tons of talentless "entertainers", all equal to each other, because they are grown up like livestock by their agencies without any chance to develop a personal and original style, while there's a lack of real talented singers. All a singer needs is his voice.

Who is a real talented singer? Elton John tier type of artists. Sadly, today everyone can become a "singer", because the market is accepting every kind of cheap manufactured thing, as long as it's "entertaining". I am not saying that this wasn't the case also in the 60s, 70s or 80s, but during those decades there was plenty also of REAL artists who wrote history music. I wonder where they are today.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Alex80 "professional is way different from talented" I can't agree with you on this. Singers of today are not only singers. They are called entertainers. Without relentless practice, they might not even better than some, heaps out there actually, youtube celebrities.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

At least in the case of AKB48 if you decide to quit the band ie. Atsuko Maeda (they call it graduation), they will celebrate you, do farewell concerts, shower the artist with encouragement for future projects which for me is more positives. Compared to what happen to S.M Entertainment former Chinese member in Exo (Tao and Luhan) and Girl Generation's Jessica, your are slapped with lawsuits, banned from appearing in major networks in Korea. No wonder the anxiety of doing well and constantly being told you're not good enough coupled with depression lead to this young man to commit suicide

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Great reply there, but they are questions which will go unanswered for obvious reasons.

Agreed

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“it's no surprise so many K-poppers want to shift over to Japan”

Ironically, just a day or so ago, I saw a feature on a Japanese news show about young Japanese girls/women who are going to Korea to study and train, go to auditions, etc. Some have been successful and become members of K-Pop groups.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Smith: you should also stop to compare K-pop bands to groups like AKB48, it's basically like you don't know that the concept behind these "artists" is completely different. Groups like AKB48 are based on the concept to show some beginners' training, and how they grow step by step. Their audience knows perfectly they aren't already professional, but they enjoy their growth. Anyway, I am not saying I like this concept, I am only saying how it works.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I don't have any problem*

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I have any problem with Asian men, I don't care about their race and I am able to find some of them rather attractive, for example Makoto Hasebe is really handsome, in my opinion. But he is completely different from your typical Asian idol. So, please Smith, don't call people "racist" so easily, just because you misunderstood their point. Asian IDOLS don't represent Asian MEN in general.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Smith: which racial discrimination? I wasn't speaking about "race", I was speaking about the beauty standards. Feminine guys with tons of make up, pale skin, and pink, green, blue, etc. hair AREN'T the kind of men who are more popular here in West, where a manlier type is way more appreciated at mainstream level (no matter about the niche of little girls who are into J/K-pop). About talent, apparently you don't know the meaning of the word. These bands are manufactured products without anything genuine. Anyone can learn to sing and dance if he starts to do a lot of training since he is a child, working everyday as a slave, but true talent doesn't need this kind of slavery to be developed. True talent is something genuine, free, spontaneous. You could say K-pop artists are very professional, because they learned what they need for their kind of performance after years of training, but professional is way different from talented. It's the same about drawing, for example. Honestly, I draw very well, and I never studied for learning how to draw.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Alex80: "They are untalented too. It's exactly because they are only good looking (not in my opinion, but according to Asian standards)..."

Wow... that's borderline racial discrimination, if not flat out. They are attractive to many Non-Asians as well, and not something you should look down on because it's not to your liking.

And in any case, many of the K-pop bans are SERIOUSLY talented. Unlike AKB and other Johnny's groups (exceptions, of course), they can sing, dance VERY well, and put on a great show. Just look at the J/K pop dual concert they had where AKB barely wiggled on stage and the Korean bands danced very well. The music itself is not to my liking, same as most J-pop, but that does not change that many are quite talented indeed.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Speed: "Sounds a lot like the AKB48 style idol group situation."

Far worse. The production companies in SK make Japan's Jonny's look like saints, and it's no surprise so many K-poppers want to shift over to Japan, where believe it or not it's a bit of a breather. The companies are worse than the Yaks who trick women here into porn contracts, from what I've heard, except the K-pop artists get enough money (not nearly the same as in Japan) and aren't working off increasing debt. Still, the contracts are IRON CLAD and they canNOT get out. So, this poor kid took the only way he could. And the companies will milk it.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

It's hard for many people to see, let alone understand, depression in some people is genetic (chronic low depression often with double depression), and not periodic as many depressions happen. It's a part of the mind you can't escape, only manage to get through life, usually hiding behind a mask the world sees, but often overwhelms you.

Therapy only treats the symptoms and fades in effectiveness because it requires constant work. Medicine is similar as drugs are only effective for a few years before you have to increase dosage before they stop working and you have to find another drug, repeating this cycle for the rest of your life, something many people reject when the treatment feels often worse than the disease.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Speed: They are untalented too. It's exactly because they are only good looking (not in my opinion, but according to Asian standards) and without any real genuine talent that they need thousands of hours in training since they are children, under the strict rules of their agencies. The first culprits are the parents of these children, that send their sons to be exploited in these disgusting agencies, where they become slaves, not "artists".

P.S. If they aren't already pretty, they are also forced to make plastic surgery.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Its about time people learned to say enough is enough, sorry I am not doing that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan ranks 26th overall, but is second highest amongst developing nations, according to 2015 stats.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Poor kid. The pressures of fame, the competition, the relentless 24/7. Especially in these fast moving times.

The industry and management have blood on their hands. As ever.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Sounds a lot like the AKB48 style idol group situation.

Good thing I'm ugly and untalented. Lots of free time. Lonely, actually.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

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