Recently, actor Yoo Ah-in made his rounds on the blogosphere for his stance on the restriction of Lady Gaga’s upcoming South Korean stop of her world tour. On April 2nd, he posted on his Twitter, “Is there convincing evidence of Lady Gaga‘s concert being hazardous and inappropriate for teens? What is this? Some 80s style sex education based on the idea that the youth doesn’t need to know?” He also was moved to post Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” music video on Twitter and commented, “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving.”
The tweets were directed toward the Korean Media Rating Board‘s latest decision regarding Lady Gaga’s upcoming concert in Korea. Hyundai Card Co., the sponsor of the forthcoming event told reporters that the Korea Media Rating Board categorized her concert as 18+ (equivalent to a US NC-17 rating). Their claims were that it was too vulgar and could corrupt the youth. The rating and restriction is a first in almost 7 years for a popular foreign artist making a stop in the country.
The reason I bring this up is not to focus on that issue specifically, it is to bring to light the increase of young idols and hallyu stars speaking out.
Over the past few years these stars have become increasingly vocal about their stands on certain situations. In 2009 three members of TVXQ, now known as JYJ, broke off from the stronghold of their label SM Entertainment and let people into the world of what really goes on behind the scenes of the K-pop industry. In an instant, the cotton candy coated industry turned into a sweatshop (slight exaggeration) full of deceit, lies, and lack of humanity. The image that the industry took decades to build up and what people saw on the outside was almost completely wiped away in a matter of months. The use of slave contracts was brought to people’s attention as well as abuse and greed. Later, to add fuel to the already raging fire, Hangeng (Super Junior’s only Chinese member) brought to light the mistreatment he suffered for being another nationality as well as the mistreatment of the group in general. This only served to further solidify the underlying “evils” of the K-pop industry.
Girl group KARA had a highly publicized falling out with their company. Many thought they would go the way of JYJ and split from their label, but instead the dispute turned out to be useful in the renegotiation of their contract. Because they took a stand and had made themselves heard, they evoked change as well as probably the envy of some of their peers in the process.
It’s always a breath of fresh air to me when I see people speaking out against injustice and the wrongs of the world. I was proud of Mir to say the least when he decided to speak out about Jang Ja-yeon’s treatment and unfortunate demise. It was heartwarming to see that such a playful and sometimes immature person could take a stance on such a controversial issue. Things like this allow others to remember that these stars are people too and they deserve to be treated as such.
Unfortunately when one starts to see change, the opposition starts to fight back harder. This was the case for T-ARA. When word of the dispute between KARA and their label started to spread, CCM’s CEO and management began to strengthen their grip on the freedom of T-ARA. I know I’m not the first and I probably won’t be the last to say that the way these girls are treated is deplorable. It’s sad to see these girls basically begging for help because of the control their company has on them. Constantly they will give updates (usually code) on how they are being treated badly or not fed enough, but it seems that no one has come to their rescue. And every time the company believes they are getting out of line, they threaten them in some form or fashion. The company is pimping these girls out to say the least and it’s truly sad to watch it as it continues to happen.
Even though the grip that these companies and industries might have on their stars might be strong such as gag orders and what not, it says a lot that these stars are still continuing to voice their opinions. This is a trend that I don’t see stopping anytime soon and hopefully it doesn’t. Honestly it makes me excited for the future of K-pop and the hallyu wave. There’s only so far a person can be pushed until they hit the wall, and when that time comes expect for them to fight back.