I hesitate to post this as Kpop fans, at times, can be...
I hesitate to post this as Kpop fans, at times, can be irrational. Also, I really do enjoy Kpop and Korean music. Yet, I felt this need to express that Kpop has a really ugly side.
1. First of all, the industry is bad to their artists. With unrealistic expectations of beauty, idols are pushed into plastic surgery early and often. They live overly structured, pitiful lives. It is rumored that many idols are not allowed most personal freedoms, including romantic relationships or even cell phones.
2. Second, the industry creates and supports unrealistic and overly-sexualized idols for young children to follow. As a teacher in Korea myself, I can tell you that my elementary students know the lyrics and dance moves of all the top Kpop songs. The first time one of my 9 year old students asked me why her body or face (e.g. eyes and lips) didn’t look like one of the girls from Sistar or Tiara, my heart ached for her.
3. Third, the industry churns out super fans. And they are scary. They can be creepy and over the top. From waiting hours to catch a glimpse of an idol to writing a fan note in blood. Also, some are just mean, telling an idol they should die or sending them poison.
4. The final point I want to make is that the Kpop industry can be racist. They’re completely insensitive to other cultures, often representing them only in stereotypes. The industry is a reflection on the country. Being Korean American and living in Korea, I very much understand that Koreans can be close-minded to issues of race and culture. Korea has been very homogeneous in its history, still with one of the highest of its ethnicity within a country. Still, Kpop represents Korea to the world, so I think they should make a bigger effort to be more culturally sensitive. When my friend, Cam, is asked about Kpop, he often brings up:
- G-dragon in blackface dressed up as Andre 3000.
- Daesung in blackface as Snoop dog.
- The Bubble Sisters in blackface on their album art.
- Boom dressed up as Stevie Wonder.
- Taeyoen from SNSD calling Alicia Keys “pretty for a black girl.”
- Junsu from kpop group 2pm singing the N-word.
- G-Dragon using the N-word.
- G-Dragon using black kids in his video as props for literally no other reason than to seem more “hood.”
- G-Dragon dressed in a style highly reminiscent of US blood gangs.
- Kpop group T-ara dressed up as “native Americans.”
- Dara from 2NE1 wearing a bindi and sari.
These are just my ramblings. I really don’t know what the solution is, as the fans eat it up, and the industry gives the fans what they want; it’s a vicious cycle. I also understand that Kpop isn’t the worst, and there are plenty of questionable industries out there. I think we should all be held accountable to point out and voice what is wrong, rather than glossing over personal and cultural atrocities.