K-Pop: New Idol Mistreatment Debates

Jeong Yunho on ‘City Fisherman’. Copyright goes to Channel A and ATEEZ.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I feel like the mistreatment of idols is always a source of news, but I always think that it’s worth talking about. While some of the time it can be overprotective fans infantilizing idols, sometimes it can be pretty important examples of how K-Pop idols are sometimes treated poorly. Recently there have been quite a few of these mistreatment allegations placed on the behalf of my favorite groups, so it’s really difficult for me not to talk about them. Because some of them definitely made me angry for regular reasons while others made me angry for others too. So before I really get into this, I also want to mention that there will be an important announcement about the future of this blog at the end of the post. Don’t worry, it’s not really bad news!

‘My Universe’ MV and Jin:

The ‘My Universe’ music video came out last night and it’s absolutely amazing. I already loved the teaser photo with the members of BTS dressed as characters from a sci-fi movie I wish actually existed, but the wardrobe wasn’t even the best part. I loved the story about connecting far-off places with music despite it being outlawed. (I’m always a sucker for these storylines- see ATEEZ’s ‘Rhythm Ta’ performance on ‘Kingdom’.) I also really liked the design of the aliens and the creative usage of another fictional band to aid Coldplay And BTS. Despite the fact that the music video had plenty of things to talk about and dissect, there were two major things that blew up about it. First, and more lighthearted, was that part where Hobi was flirting with an alien. We haven’t really seen Hobi do anything like this in a music video before and I thought it was hilarious how much it blew up. Hobi stole that entire MV for me. But you can argue that most of the members got equal screen time- except for maybe Jin. This debate started when the song came out because we could only clearly hear Jin a couple times in the song. But I’ve talked about the line distribution debate before and my opinion hasn’t changed. BTS decides their own line distribution, so we need to respect their decisions. I did kind of agree that Jin appeared far too little in the music video. I will argue that most of the shots of BTS were group ones, but everyone else got longer singular shots than Jin. I think they should have found a way to give Jin more time on screen, even if he didn’t have many lines. It felt like Jin flashed on screen and then was gone, and he deserves more than that. But blaming BTS or Coldplay for this is absolutely ridiculous.

Jungkook and Advertisement:

This one is absolutely ridiculous for so many reasons. Jungkook was discovered to be the director of his brother’s fashion company, which people already knew that Jungkook has recently been wearing a lot of pieces from. Because Jungkook was not clear about being in a position of power in this company, people started accusing him of false advertising. Or advertising without disclosing that he was trying to promote the clothing. But this argument, obviously, doesn’t make any sense. Jungkook was wearing the clothes, yes, but he never drew attention to them or started talking about how amazing they were. Is he not allowed to wear those clothes even if he likes them without telling everyone where they’re from every time he wears them? Jungkook wore the clothes, he never advertised them. I was with the rest of ARMY on this one, but not completely. Many people defending Jungkook in this situation were massively infantilizing Jungkook. Saying that Jungkook was too young to deal with this or inferring that he wouldn’t be able to handle it. If you were one of those people who was saying things like this, you’re infantilizing him. We don’t get to decide his capabilities. He’s an adult. And we’re all fully capable of defending him while treating him as a twenty-four year old instead of as a five year old.

‘City Fisherman’ and Yunho:

This happened a little bit ago, so you might be surprised that I’m just talking about it now. The reason for that is because the situation kind of developed slowly and we didn’t have much definitive proof until recently. Semi-recently, Yunho of ATEEZ was on the fishing show ‘City Fisherman’ as well as several other idols. Yunho was commended pretty early on for his apparent hidden skills in fishing (He did so well!) and an absolutely adorable moment where a butterfly settled on him and didn’t seem to want to leave. (Me too butterfly. Me too.) But as time passed after the show, more and more fans began to complain about a specific part of the show. At first people weren’t updating videos so nobody could confirm if the story was real. But more recently we’ve started getting more of the actual clips. Specifically one where Yunho was cooking for some of the older mentors on the show. Another team was getting their soup cooked much more quickly, prompting many of the older men to complain to Yunho about how slow it was taking. They also referred to Yunho as a “slave” and kept complaining to the point where Yunho began to look unhappy and stressed. Anyone who’s even semi familiar with Yunho knows that getting him to stop smiling is often difficult. So this was a little alarming. One of the mentors began assuring Yunho that it wasn’t his fault and that the gas in their outdoor stove was faulty and to blame for the slow cook time. But he seemed to be the only one attempting to help. This is not the first of this kind of complaints we’ve seen from shows like this. In fact, complaints like this are one reason why idols have stopped appearing on so many variety shows and their companies create specific shows for them instead. The most known example of an idol being treated badly by variety show hosts was when Jungkook bought food for the entire cast of the show and many of the hosts baselessly accused him of bringing them leftovers. This happened years ago and it’s still talked about.

Most people know by now that Yunho is known for being kind to staff. A staff member not long ago credited Yunho for her not giving up on her job, because he showed her kindness and cheered her on when she was having technical difficulties on a set. Yunho also was commended for running around during this fishing show specifically to help several people. The fact that he was treated so badly definitely does not seem like some sort of behind the scenes beef, and appears to just be the egos of the variety show hosts. Which, as I said before, does not seem to be uncommon. I just hope that these hosts know that without these idols they may not have jobs. And if they continue to treat idols like this, then they probably won’t. Idols are already abandoning variety shows for their own projects after the success of ‘Run BTS’. Yunho being treated like this is nothing short of idiotic. Obviously, Yunho’s my bias in ATEEZ which is one of my favorite musical groups, so I’m very angry about this. But I think this further opens a pretty big conversation about the way many variety show hosts, and even interviewers (especially in America), seem to look down on idols. Hopefully something about this will change soon. Whether that means variety show hosts learning from their mistakes or variety shows being completely replaced with idol specific ones.

The mistreatment of idols is always something that feels pretty disheartening to look at. But I hope that people will find hope in that we’re talking about this now more than it has ever gotten public interest. Talking about this more and more is bound to change some things. The hosts who ignored Jungkook were even apologetic and respectful to Jungkook recently because of the fans continuing to talk about the mistreatment. While we need to be careful not to further trash people for acts in the far past that they’ve apologized for, it’s nice to think that maybe we can get idols more respect in the industry by talking about recent or untouched events. And with that, here’s the announcement for the blog! Because of exciting new prospects in the lives of both my sister and I, we will be slowing down our posts. There will still be new content and we have plenty of old content as well for you to revisit! But, for now, we’re going down to posting every other day instead of every day. So it won’t be much of a change! We hope you’ll stick with us through this change and we promise that we’ll continue to post well-thought and really fun posts! Thank you!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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