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K-Pop Music Has Fans Worldwide

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At the 2017 Billboard Music Awards on May 21, an award was given to a very unexpected winner: a Korean pop music group, known as the K-Pop band, BTS.

Although many American people were shocked by the new Top Social Artist winners, millions of BTS and K-Pop fans all over the world were filled with happiness and joyful excitement.

BTS, standing for Bangtan Sonyeon (Bulletproof Boys), are just one group out of many.

Korean pop music, beginning in the late 1980s, has began to tremendously rise in popularity. Numerous groups have both Korean and international fans all over the world.

Senior Judy Park said, “K-Pop music and culture is just so different from American music and culture.”

Most K-Pop songs depict a very gracious message to go along with the good-natured music videos and modest outfits worn by the girl and boy idols (reference for K-Pop stars).

A majority of all K-Pop music videos illustrate a variation of vibrant colors, fun, laughter and glee. However, there are plenty of sad and dark music videos that correlate with the sad and dark songs.

Dimond alumna from class of 2014 Vanessa Tufaga said, “What drew me to K-Pop music originally was the music videos. They’re ‘aesthetically pleasing’ as some may say, but what kept me coming back was the chemistry between the members and how they care about each other.”

Another key factor that catches people’s eye is the dance choreography that takes place in the music videos.

Senior Kathleen Jobs said, “What got me interested in K-Pop was the dancing. It was the first thing that I noticed when I watched music videos.”

With hours and hours of practice and hard work, K-Pop idols are very well-known for their dancing skills shown in their music videos and their live performances.

Although most people believe the K-Pop industry is cute and playful, it can actually be the exact opposite.

Behind the cute and happy music videos and songs, the K-Pop industry can be quite brutal to the idols behind closed doors.

Tufaga gave a lot of insight on the matter, describing the young lives of the aspiring idols.

She said, “Trainees range from ages 12 to 20 years old. Some make it young and some might never make it at all. It all depends on the agency you sign with. Diet restrictions and dating bans are taken very seriously.

“ There have been trainees who have debuted and dated in secret and were instantly terminated. So what I learned from that is, it’s a very cut throat business. Everyone is there to succeed, and each idol usually has a story of how hard it was and often how they almost gave up.”

There are countless cases in which idols have fainted and passed out cold on stage while performing due to severe exhaustion, a lack of rest and a lack of food consumption.

A case that was really heartbreaking was when idol Jessica Jung, that was a part of the very famous group Girls Generation, was seen almost fainting on stage at the end of a performance.

After the group walks off stage and goes outside, Jessica immediately falls and starts sobbing.

Crew members start fanning her in order to give her air, help her breathe and cool her down.

But other crew members try to fix her hair and appearance in order for her to go back on stage and perform again.

Which she does.

Jung was later kicked out of the group due to her constant fatigue and exhaustion from the lifestyle of being an idol.

While fans get very upset because of the treatment of the idols, a number of agencies expect the idols to toughen up and continue on, just like Jessica.

When situations like this happen, some idols may want to quit. But due to their individual “slave contracts” which bind them to unfair long-term contracts with their management agencies, they can’t.

Another unfair treatment the idols endure is having to make a considerable amount of money for their agencies and only receiving a small fraction of it.

To illustrate, when trainees sign with agencies at a very young age, they are likely to sign for a 10 or 13-year contract.

In addition to the very long contract, management agencies expect the idols to debut, and then pay back every cent for the dancing and singing lessons, along with the wardrobe and living costs they paid for while the idols were in training.

So although K-Pop idols dedicate almost all of their time to practicing, performing and making an income for their management agencies, the idols themselves do not make as much profit as they should.

A last and rather upsetting treatment the idols undergo is the obsessive fanbase they have.

Park said, “The crazy obsessive fans in Korea are called Sasaeng fans. They take being a fan of an idol to a whole other level. Sasaeng fans dedicate their lives to intruding idols’ privacy.”

Tufaga adds, “It gets really bad with Sasaeng fans because a lot of them want to be known and remembered by the idols so badly that they’ll aggressively hit or attack the idols.”

Besides the harsh conditions K-Pop idols have to go through, the music they make is highly admired and respected, greatly making an impact on their fans’ lives.

 

Jobs said, “K-Pop has heavily influenced me as a dancer. I have learned a variety of styles, and it is a lot of fun. It made me who I am as a dancer today.”

But beyond the dancing, the fancy clothes, the stylish music videos and performances, the idols have created a more meaningful impact.

Tufaga said, “K-Pop has impacted my life in a very eye-opening way. It has informed and changed my outlook on Asian cultures and customs in multiple ways. It’s shown me the importance of respect and humility.”

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K-Pop Music Has Fans Worldwide