Deep Down the K-pop Hole


Image | Lisa Yi

Courtesy to Wikimedia | K-Pop, BTS

South Korean pop music, also known as K-pop, is considered to be one of the most listened genres on Spotify and other music streaming platforms. Originally starting in the 1990s, K-pop only became globally popular during the 21st century, when Gangnam Style by Psy was released in 2012. It was the first K-pop video to hit 1 billion views on YouTube and has the reputation of spreading K-pop across the world. Benefiting from the sudden awareness, large groups like Wonder Girls and Girl’s Generation created enticing dance moves and catchy music. The artists start to train in their agencies from a very young age and spend most of their life in the K-pop industry hoping to hit it off in the spotlight. Some even give up their normal student lives to become a K-pop idol, and dedicate themselves to the fans that support them. Only a very small percentage of applications are accepted, and it’s even more difficult to be able to debut as a group or solo artist because it’s so competitive. Working their way up the ladder, some trainees would spend years to perfect their abilities. K-pop idols train 18 hours a day and less than 60 percent of trainees will be able to debut. K-pop idols, like western artists, also have social media platforms where they post their teasers, music videos, and dance choreographies. Platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok are widely used by Korean artists to spread their music and increase their popularity. Nowadays, the most popular groups include BTS, Blackpink, EXO, Stray Kids, and many more. A lot of students in CHS have been listening to K-pop, and it is definitely a popular genre among high school students.

A sophomore student at CHS, Coco Fan is a big supporter of the Korean pop industry. She wanted to share her favorite groups and artists and also the reason why she loves the music genre so much.

“One of my neighbors actually introduced me to K-pop when we invited them to a dinner party,” Fan said. “It’s really because of the aesthetic MVs and how catchy the songs are. There’s little to no swear words compared to Western music and not understanding the lyrics makes the song sound better. The beauty of the music is that you could interpret the lyrics in one way but the subtitles could show you something else. Some of my favorite artists are G-(Idle), Ateez, and BTS.”

Even though K-pop idols may appear nearly perfect and hard working on the screen, a lot of different types of scandals have been going on recently in the K-pop industry. From the moment they debut, these idols have to watch for their image in the crowd and never do anything that might be deemed controversial in Korea and other countries. Because it’s such a big industry, scandals such as blackmailing, corruption, dating, suicides, and bullying are the most common topics. Bullying scandals have resurfaced in the Internet over the course of quarantine, with social media being the main way to connect and spread information. Anonymous users use Nate Pann, a Korean social media platform, to make allegations against the artists. The rumors spread, and then the artist’s career was put on the line. A good example of this is Hyunjin, who is one of the members of the popular K-Pop group Stray Kids. He was accused by his former classmate of bullying and sexual harassment. Whether this accusation was true or not, Hyunjin decided to take a break from the industry temporarily and reflect on his actions. Music videos are postponed, Korean dramas are put on hold, or a member of a famous K-pop group leaves the company with an apology that wasn’t enough for the fans. To think that social media has such a huge impact on the artist’s life definitely affects how a person would think about their actions throughout their teenage years in school.

Liza Platonov, an avid K-pop fan who is currently a senior at CHS, expresses her concerns about how social media can affect an individual’s lifestyle and careers.

“A lot of idols don’t have personal social media I think,” Platonov said. “So they definitely don’t run into a lot of the problems that American celebrities run into by posting controversial stuff on social media in my experience. On the other hand, social media is also very threatening to idols because people can spread accusations or opinions about idols very easily to large audiences, which could definitely have a huge impact on their career.”

Many of these bullying scandals result from past mistakes that happened during that idol’s teenage and high school years. Within the toxic fanbase in the K-pop industry, anti fans are able to dig through the idol’s past easily, and bring something problematic to light. Social media is a big part of a high schooler’s life as well. Teenagers use Twitter, Instagram, and many others to post/tweet stories or share their opinions on events without thinking of their words. Some would even go to the extreme, sharing almost every part of their life, whether it should be on the internet or not. And sometimes, like those K-pop stars, that can come with a cost. As the use of social media among high school students continues to increase, actions such as bullying people on social media and posting controversial topics should always be a precaution in a student’s high school life. Whether or not that those actions will affect the future, it all depends on how serious someone takes their future to be. High school life could definitely affect someone’s future and career path both negatively and positively.