Hey! Hallie here!
Last week, and even the start of this week, has been very…eventful for the K-Pop community. Unfortunately, none of what I’ll be talking about today will be positive. There’s also a lot of specific cases that I won’t be able to talk about simply because there are so many. Still there’s a lot to go into, and a lot of things to talk about regarding racism that absolutely can’t be ignored right now. So let’s get into this.
Last week a major search service in Korea, ‘NAVER’, announced that they would be getting rid of a regular function on their website. This function was the ‘most searched’ function, and it ranked search words and articles related to them like a ‘trending’ page. Many people used it to keep up with news. Without it, many Koreans feared that celebrities would be able to sweep problematic behavior under the rug. So, with that in mind, many self-proclaimed victims decided to share their stories of being bullied in school by certain idols before the feature could be removed. Bullying is a major issue in South Korea, so much so that the government has gotten involved on multiple occasions, and often describes the harsher examples of bullying international fans are used to. This ranges anywhere from physical violence to verbal abuse. There were many cases that were released in regards to both actors and idols, most denied, some proved untrue, and some still without response. In regards to K-Pop, Soojin from (G)I-DLE was targeted for reportedly harassing a student while walking to school, instigating violence, and stealing from students. Her company denied some, but not all, of the behavior she was accused of. Soojin herself denied all of the allegations and a reported classmate of hers also came out to defend Soojin. Mingyu from SEVENTEEN was accused of laughing at a victim being bullied and threatening them to get him enough money for a practice room for his auditions. This accusation was deleted soon after it was posted, and a classmate came out to defend him as well. His company did a full investigation and reported these accusations to be false.
Hyunjin from Stray Kids is the most popular of these accusations, however. He was accused of mostly verbal abuse, including verbal sexual harassment. A former classmate and his company, JYP Entertainment, defended him, but soon afterwards a second allegation was released, this time of physical abuse. Hyunjin apologized, seemingly confirming the accusations, and the company announced that he would be on indefinite hiatus. Many believe JYP Entertainment forced him to apologize and is purposely throwing him under the bus, especially after they had claimed to find the previous accusation completely false, but whether or not that’s true remains unclear. Among others who were accused are Kihyun from MONSTA X, Aisha from EVERGLOW, and artist HyunA. In all of these cases, much like the cases above, their companies have come out in support of these artists and threatened to take legal action. To clarify, we have no idea whether or not any of these accusations are true. But, in many but not all cases, we have no idea if these accusations are false, either. If anything, this is a reminder not to put your favorite idols up on a pedestal and recognize that they are human. You should not only recognize that they make mistakes, but you should also recognize that you don’t know who any of them truly are off-screen or off-stage. You may feel that your favorite idols are kind, and you might be right, but you could also be wrong. Be cautious and courteous to both fans defending them, and potential victims sharing their stories.
This morning we received the very unfortunate news that a good half of K-Pop artists have had some, if not all of their songs, taken off of Spotify. Korean company Kakao M, who is responsible for distributing the works of many K-Pop artists, is currently at odds with Spotify. Reportedly all songs released by Kakao M will disappear on March 1st due to the expiration of the global licensing agreement between Spotify and Kakao M. According to Spotify, this is because they haven’t been able to come to an agreement with Kakao M. It’s unclear who is at fault, although Spotify has been placing blame on Kakao M. Regardless, the fans and artists will be suffering. Among the artists leaving Spotify are The Boyz, Cherry Bullet, Dreamcatcher, MONSTA X, LUCY, and Epik High. Artists who will have some to most of their songs removed, but not all, are (G)I-DLE, Seventeen, and NU’EST among others. This is incredibly frustrating. For those who primarily listen to their favorite artists via Spotify, it’s awful. Hopefully this will be solved soon.
Racist Radio Comments Made About BTS:
I’m sure many of you know this story already. A German radio host named Matthias Matuschik decided to precede a criticism of BTS’s cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” by saying he didn’t have anything against South Korea because he has a Korean car. Already a very bad start. Afterwards he said that BTS deserved a “vacation” in North Korea for their cover. He then said BTS was a disease like COVID-19. Obviously, in the time of people still calling COVID the Chinese virus, these comments were incredibly racist. If that wasn’t bad enough, the radio station came out in defense of the host by simply stating that his wording was an unpleasant accident. With Asian hate crimes on the rise because of horrible people who still believe ridiculous claims that Asian people are responsible for COVID, this radio host and station only reveal themselves to be part of the problem. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Several people, including BTS collaborators like Halsey, MAX, and Steve Aoki, came out in defense of BTS, condemning the statements of the radio host. All of them were quick to point out how racist the comments were and how hard BTS has worked to get where they are. While many people are quick to defend BTS right now, It’s important to be aware of the bigger picture. Asian hate crimes are on the rise and it’s infuriating how many people are willing to avoid the topic. They deserve to go outside without fear and to be treated with kindness, as everyone should be. Any ARMY and K-Pop fans, especially white ones like myself, should recognize their privileges and stand with the Asian community at this time. We shouldn’t only be coming to their defense when our favorite idols are threatened.
This has been a very long week for K-Pop fans. Hopefully we get some good news on one, two, or in the best case, all of these issues. We also have new K-Pop content to look forward to, like A-TEEZ’s new album coming out on the first of March. But we should also be aware of the people suffering far more than we are right now. The Asian community has had a much worse time recently, and even before the media started covering Asian hate crimes more frequently. We can hope for better for our favorite K-Pop idols, but we can actually work towards ending racism towards Asian people.
Edit: For those who want to help, here’s an article from Rolling Stone that lays out different ways to help the Asian Community at this time: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/asian-american-racism-violence-1127876/
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!