An Open Letter to the K-pop Industry
Hello K-Pop… it’s time we have a conversation.
I have let this go on for the past few years but can simply not put up with it anymore. I have followed you through the years closely, bought your merchandise, sang along to your catchy songs and put up with the constant ‘refreshing’ of groups you have pushed into my face but it has to come to an end.
As someone from an ethnic background and a female I have found myself somewhat offended by the route you have been taking your female idols down in recent times. From your overused use of ‘swag’ and the time you spend attempting to up the ‘ghetto feel’ your acts give off to the lowering of standards when it comes to said performers, I feel it may be time to take a good long look at yourself and reassess your strategies.
Within the past year female groups have returned with concepts that are supposed to scream out empowered women but do they actually do this? Secret were female bank robbers, but still had to rely on their ‘feminine charms’ (cleavage and legs) in order to actually complete the job. Miss A didn’t need a man and yet the entire dance was less tough female and more ‘look at me wiggle oppa whilst talking about how much I don’t need you’. You see, when it comes to female idols, as much as you may try to deny it, K-pop, you give them a hard time.
Now you have launched a twerking attack on the world and I look on with fear in my eyes. Not for the fact that I fear someone could possibly get their eye poked out with all that bone thrusting, but because I believe that this ‘innovation’ is likely to move K-pop back instead of forward. It’s understandable that you try to keep up to date with the newest ‘rages’ in the western world and that over the past few years twerking has risen, yes. But have you ever considered how exploited you are currently making your female artists look?
In 2010 alone, one survey found that 60% of underage female entertainers were pressured to expose as much skin as possible by their companies. However when covering this survey, many media sources lead with the 10% that were forced to expose specific body parts rather than the higher proportion that were pressured into wearing skimpy outfits. Is this only to be seen as a big deal to both the public and the media if they expose the ‘sexual’ parts of their bodies? Should it be easily pushed aside if they feel both uncomfortable and exploited?
It’s quite clear for any sane fan to see that the more groups debuting the higher the need for them to flash the flesh to stand out seems to be. But it’s not just rookie groups taking the ‘less is more’ route, it’s also groups that have been around a few years. Take the recent comebacks from Girl’s Day for instance. In both we have watched them go from the cute girls next door to the ones that would have been found smoking behind the bin sheds at school. And all for the sake of selling a few more albums and gaining a little more exposure.
Which makes me wonder, K-pop, if this is how you believe females empower themselves, what else do you think it takes in order to survive the harsh tide of the Hallyu Wave?
But it’s not just the over-sexualisation that is currently making it difficult for me to deal with you, K-pop, but the constant striving for physical perfection that you are continuing to push on your idols. I mean day after day I read articles surrounding the ‘healthy’ lifestyles of my favourite stars. Take Secret for instance and their ‘fantastic’ diet plan which consists of little more than snacks you would give a child at play school. Or Nine Muses with their well-known three paper cup diet, in which they are to only eat what they can fit within said cups, three times a day. Some would consider this healthy, I however consider it to be dangerous. Let us not forget that these are people in the spotlight who are idolised and seen as role models by many young women. What they do (whether forced to or not) has a widespread impact.
However in a way, K-pop, I can stand up for you. You see I have gone over the things that I feel you need to improve but it is not you alone that is the problem. Sometimes fans can be also. Male groups can take off their tops and netizens write away about it for days online, celebrating and reliving the moment with pictures and memes. Throw a bucket of water over a male idol in an MV and he becomes a godly figure that ‘wrecks bias lists’ for weeks to come. Throw a bucket of water over a woman and discussions will revolve almost solely around her ‘sluttiness’. Controversy is all around and it comes in a variety of forms, but it is never helped by the way in which idols are unfairly viewed according to their gender.
I am able to admit that not everything is your fault right now. Us fans will also have to work hard in order to keep you going on the right path. The path that will allow females to be treated less like living. breathing sex dolls and more like the ‘talents’ they are. After all they are an investment of your time and money and should be made to feel like they have some kind of worth.
Now don’t get upset, K-pop, I’ve only written this letter to you because I care about you. I want to see you grow and expand to a younger generation of people and adapt to wider markets, I just want you to do it in a way that will allow you to be more substance and less cleavage. So grab a tissue, wipe those tears away and go listen to some G.O.D whilst reminiscing about the good old days.
Forever your fan and voice of reason,
Is there anything you would tell the K-pop industry if given the chance? Let us know in the comments.