Netizens have been in an uproar over a Japanese internet manga, created by otakus, which fetishizes a rather unflattering side of the Hallyu Wave that has recently invaded Japan.
The story is told by a fictional former Korean pop idol, working as a hostess, who gives an expose about the “real” inner workings of the K-pop industry to a journalist. The comic presents the Korean entertainment industry as extremely manipulative and seedy in which female idols are forced to give sexual favors to their bosses and their coworkers for fame. In the comic both SNSD and KARA are accused of performing such favors.The manga features highly sexualized images of SNSD and KARA members performing their hit songs “Genie” and “Mister.” Poor KARA has even been drawn performing naked.
The comic also claims that the popularity of K-pop idol groups has been bought by the Korean government as part of a huge propaganda campaign. The example used to demonstrate this comes from SNSD’s highly publicized arrival in Japan. Reports from Korean and Japanese entertainment news stated that over 800 fans eagerly welcomed the group at the airport. However, the comic says that these large crowd numbers were heavily exaggerated. And it accuses the Korean government of paying a promotional agency over $150 million dollars to create lies about the popularity of the Hallyu Wave in Japan. This agency supposedly hired the 100 Japanese citizens who pretended to be loyal Sones at the airport to make SNSD appear very popular in Japan.
And if there wasn’t enough material there to keep netizens pissed off for weeks to come, the very tragic death of actress Jang Ja Yeon was presented as proof of the seedy nature of the industry. The actress committed suicide in 2009 after slipping into a deep depression due to the fact that she was forced to perform sexual acts with powerful executives by her management agency.
Both agencies of KARA and SNSD will investigate this issue further.
Besides the graphic imagery, I wouldn’t say that the claims in this manga are entirely false, although they are exaggerated. We all know that many young idols and entertainers are still being taken advantage of by their bosses. And we know that Korea has invested much time, energy, and cash into promoting the Hallyu Wave in Asia and abroad. But this comic presentation is just too creepy to be taken seriously.
Let’s remember that otakus created this manga, just a particular group of creepy otakus with weird fantasies. This doesn’t represent the beliefs of Japan as a whole. (Yes, I had to say this.)