K-Pop: Idols are Humans

Promotional photo of (from left) Son Dongju (Xion), Lee Seoho, Yeo Hwanwoong, Lee Keonhee, and Kim Geonhak (Leedo). Copyright goes to RBW and ONEUS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

This is yet another one of those times where I had something different planned for today and had to change my plans because of some recent news. I do have a review for another drama I’ve watched incoming and I promise that will be next! But right now, this feels more important. There have been a couple of trends going around and a recent incident that I really want to talk in depth about because all of these things seem to pointedly ignore the same point I’ve been trying to make forever. Idols are human beings. They are not otherworldly entities who are somehow better or more perfect than anyone else. Just because they have a glamorous job does not mean that we are entitled to treat them as anything else but what they essentially are. And I think there are certain things lately that have strayed so far from this point that I’ve personally been more angry regarding this point with idols than I have before in recent memory. And that’s saying something. So let’s go over the recent drama with Kim Namjoon and a recent TikTok trend so I can rant about this some more!

A Monk???:

I’m pretty sure everyone has heard about this by now, but several news sites released a specific story about Kim Namjoon of BTS against his knowledge and consent. I have not read the article and, if you haven’t, please do not seek it out or read anything even if you come across it. If you have read it, well, I sincerely hope it was by accident. Kim Namjoon has made his recent delve into religion semi public as he continues on his journey to really find himself, which is an opportunity he hasn’t really been given for quite a while. On a reflective visit to a Buddhist temple; Namjoon confided in a monk. The monk then turned around and sold everything Namjoon told him in confidence to the press. Yes, a monk. Someone who trains in morality and is usually seen as trustworthy sold a story that this person was told in confidence to the press. I still can barely believe it. (Please note that this is not the time to go after all monks or the Buddhist religion.) Namjoon, who is pretty mild mannered, shared the fact that the story had been posted in absolute fury. Something that I cannot blame him for. I am also absolutely outraged. Namjoon has already expressed how exhausted he is with being famous and being recognized everywhere. As someone who has that level of fame, he has expressed that he hasn’t exactly known who to trust in the past. And then this happens to him. If you read that article because you wanted to or even translated it for other people to read; you’re, in a lot of ways, just as bad as that monk. Idols do not deserve to have their private information in the public just as much as you don’t deserve to wake up tomorrow and see all of your private information go viral. There is no excuse here. This was just plain inhumane.

Bias Lists:

And here’s my second part to this. I honestly could have created an entire post just based off of how angry I am that this is currently a trend on places like TikTok and Instagram. Is it ok to have a bias? Yes! When you choose your bias you aren’t necessarily choosing which member you like above the others. You’re choosing who you like based off of your personal interests and who draws you to them. This answer is going to be different for everyone. A lot of people also have bias wreckers, who are people that sometimes make you question your bias. A lot of people identify within K-Pop fandoms in particular based off of who their bias is. But while I think it’s ok to have these things, though we sometimes see issues with them as well, it is absolutely ridiculous to have a bias list. Because what you see as just a list of your personal preferences is actually a list of your favorite to least favorite human beings in a group. When you have a bias and a bias wrecker you aren’t choosing someone to go in a last or least favorite spot. But that has opened people up to the idea that it’s ok to make entire lists. And this also makes it so that the point of you having a bias or bias wrecker in the first place goes away. Picking someone that you’re just drawn to doesn’t feel like the point when you’re ranking every single person in that group. At that point you absolutely do have a favorite and are ranking your favorite to least favorite.

Idols aren’t fictional characters. I feel like many of the people who do this have been in fiction fandoms before and are used to being asked who their favorite and least favorite characters are. I know that I used to sometimes make lists of my favorite characters in certain shows or books that I liked. But these are human beings. We already have issues with some members being biased over others and some members of some groups having their personal merch sold out far before the personal merch of other members. And if you think that this never hurts the idols, you are absolutely wrong. Several members of BTS recalled a time where a few of them would never receive any fan mail and how much that hurt those members. How much more do you think it would hurt them if everyone started ranking all of the members of a group? There are also multiple groups with a vast variety of the amount of members to consider. Because of this, I often also have a problem when people say that they have a bias line in a group. Especially because these bias lines often include four or more members, which means that they’ll often only be excluding a few members. Again, this feels a lot more like choosing members that are your least favorite than choosing a member that you feel personally drawn to. I know this might fall on deaf ears, but it’s not ok to have a least favorite member of a group. Why? Because that starts getting into solo stan behavior. If you don’t support all of the members of a group, then you absolutely can’t support that group as a whole. And if you’re willing to call any member of the group your least favorite, I personally think that this shows a lack of support for that member. You wouldn’t sit down and rank your family members, so don’t rank idols either. It is not ok to start ranking human beings.

Idols are constantly stalked, torn down, or having their personal lives controlled or put on blast by the public. And I really think everyone who considers doing any of these things needs to consider whether or not they would be ok if any of these things happened to them. A lot of people justify their behavior by saying that by getting into an entertainment industry like this, the idols should expect this because it’s “a part of the job”. But none of these people seem to consider that maybe it shouldn’t be a part of the job. That maybe a job in the entertainment industry is another job and that nobody deserves to have their private lives exposed and shared with the world. And also that these people should be able to choose their own lives and the public should understand that all of them have emotions just like the rest of us. On the other end of this, we shouldn’t feel that they are perfect or will always make the right decision. Because again, human beings make mistakes. If you’re treating anyone in a way that you would not be personally ok being treated, then you probably aren’t treating that person like a human being. Idols are humans!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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