Bullying Scandal Reveals Darker Side of K-pop Industry | Be Korea-savvy

Bullying Scandal Reveals Darker Side of K-pop Industry

South Korean girl group AOA poses for a photo during the 2019 SBS Music Awards in Seoul on Dec. 25. 2019. (Yonhap)

South Korean girl group AOA poses for a photo during the 2019 SBS Music Awards in Seoul on Dec. 25. 2019. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, July 9 (Korea Bizwire)Kwon Min-ah, the 26-year-old former member of a K-pop girl group AOA, revealed last week that she has been harassed by former AOA leader Jimin for the last 10 years.

Jimin, the 29-year-old rapper and singer whose real name is Shin Ji-min, was subject to massive criticism after threatening Kwon during the course of delivering her apology.

She left the group last Sunday and retired from all activities as an entertainer.

This incident goes beyond the internal troubles of a certain group. Rather, it shows the darker side of the K-pop industry and the system set up to produce so-called ‘idols’.

The trainee system and collective residences that have become a mandatory part of the industry, the hierarchy that exists within groups, and passive attitude from management companies towards internal disputes have all been revealed as serious problems faced by the K-pop industry.

Kwon said that she had to resort to medication due to the harassment, and attempted to take her own life on several occasions, which shocked the public.

FNC Entertainment, Kwon’s management company during her years as an AOA member, failed to listen to her struggles even though she told them about her situation.

While Kwon wrote posts about her struggles online on at least nine occasions, FNC spent two days insisting that they had no official stance on this matter.

It was only after Shin posted her apology on social media that FNC made an official announcement of Shin’s suspension, inciting criticism for being irresponsible.

Experts argue that the ‘idol’ procurement system should change.

Both the elite sport industry and the idol industry in South Korea share the system of collective residence and strict rules of conduct to focus on training a small number of elites to demonstrate outstanding performances.

Experts argue that a certain level of freedom, in which the members are entitled to a certain amount of personal space, might have prevented such an incident, pointing out that it falls on the management company to create an atmosphere in which the members can take care of themselves.

H. M. Kang (hmkang@koreabizwire.com)

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