We’ve all done it before — forgone sleep to accomplish greater tasks at hand, like eating, partying, studying, and term papers. Some of us can’t even imagine living without a full night’s beauty rest. Some of us can tough out the day with just five hours. Others can brave the world with just one, or sometimes even less if our good old friend caffeine is handy. But despite all the ways we sacrifice sleep for the sake of the never-ending conquest that is our daily lives, sleep is a process our body demands. Fun fact: If you have managed to resist sleep for 48 hours, you are classified as clinically insane by most doctors. Don’t ask me why I know that.

For us, we all eventually succumb to sleep in some way, shape, or form. But for idols of the K-entertainment world, sleep is a luxury. Like many other normal human possessions (including friends, family, education, cell phones, and even internet access) sleep is another faculty that most idols are forced to live without. Just ask T-ara’s Jiyeon.

On January 1st, Jiyeon was absent from the joint T-ara-Davichi special stage due to a temporary hospitalization. But why? According to a Core Contents Media representative, after Jiyeon completed T-ara’s stage for the MBC Gayo Daejun at 2 in the morning, she went to shoot for the KBS drama Dream High 2 at 4 a.m. After that, she went to the rehearsal for Inkigayo in a sleep-deprived state. It’s a shame since she also has a drama shoot afterwards.

It’s a shame since she also has a drama shoot afterwards.

Yeah. It really is a shame that Jiyeon is going to have to continue on with a full day’s schedule. Half dead. A shame, really.

Not sleeping has its unsightly consequences. Many idols who feign sleep to pursue schedules often find themselves falling asleep on live TV or yielding to illness. T-ara’s Boram can attest to that, as one of her recent Tweets revealed her unspoken agony.

I feel like I’m going to explode on the inside. But what I hate more than that is the heavy, depressed feeling I get whenever I feel that way. I’m a little, no, really sad. I’m upset with myself at having to hold in my cries on my own as well as swallow down pills in order to keep myself from being sick.

Sleep deprivation usually catches up to idols behind the scenes, after they’ve pulled through a lengthy performance or TV appearance. We often hear about idols collapsing and then being hospitalized for exhaustion, only to return to their schedules usually within hours of the news breaking. Sleep, though, can only be put off for so long. With the addition of lack of sleep, added sickness, diet, and exercise, it’s difficult for idols to function as actual human beings anymore. And oftentimes,  far more severe consequences rear their ugly heads.

When idols have their bodies pushed to their limits, many still feel obligated to keep going. Take, for example, f(x)’s Krystal, a girl who has fainted on screen one too many times for her health not to be an issue. At the Lotte Duty Free Concert in 2010, during a performance of Mr. Boogie, Krystal actually collapses with her mic still in hand.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n5-v0sZQpGI&w=560&h=315]

During f(x)’s downtime, the individual members ventured off into personal activities. For Krystal, one such activity was participating in SBS’s Kiss and Cry, an ice skating reality show in which idols are paired with real ice-skaters and are judged on their performances. Exactly one month before the show’s premiere, however, f(x) had just made a long awaited comeback and related promotions and activities were underway. At some point, Krystal found herself juggling her life as an idol with her responsibility as an amateur ice skater. While still on the ice during a performance, Krystal faints again.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ufWMBkJJcfQ&w=560&h=315]

The examples above might  have only involved female idols, but that’s not to say male idols don’t suffer just as much. Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter so much about who is suffering, as much as it is why they’re suffering. I know most aspiring young kids are well aware of things they must give up in order to become an idol, and some of those things are understandable. However, sleep is a process necessary for our sanity and for our survival. Doesn’t it seem a little inhumane to be working idols literally into the ground?

If idols fainting were an occasional incident, it would be something I could more readily dismiss. But in my opinion, far too many idols are finding their faces in the ground far too often because they are overworked.  Hearing about Jiyeon being sleep-deprived, reading Boram’s depressing tweet, and watching Krystal’s body give up on itself — stardom also means sacrifice, but isn’t this a bit much?

But let’s put ethics aside, because we all know most entertainment companies are not in it to further the dreams of young entertainers. Most agencies are full time capitalistic businesses, marketing their idols to squeeze out last bit of money they can get. If idols are overworked, doesn’t their quality of performance during each and every activity on their schedule decrease? And in the long run, won’t that just upset more fans than please them? And if us fans are not happy, what do we do? We go ape. Boycotts, petitions, mass outcry-we stop buying into our beloved idols’ companies.

Considering the sheer enormity of idols in the entertainment industry today, I’m honestly surprised some government agency hasn’t stepped in and moderated working condition or established a quota for hours slept for idols. But as fans, all we can do is to bear the news as it comes. I think it’s only a matter of time now until something happens. Whether that “something” will be good or bad news for idols and fans, however, is hard to say. I know idols are dreaming for better days.

Oh, wait. They’re not.

(Omona, Koreaboo, Naver)