Happy Wednesday, and welcome back to another roundtable!

Celebrities live in a world far removed from our own (some would even say removed from reality), especially Korean celebrities for us international fans. But there are times when they say or do something that makes you realise how they are human just like the rest of us, especially something that you yourself understand, and you can surmise how that idol may be feeling, because you’ve felt that way yourself. Have you ever empathised with, or felt empathy for, a Hallyu star?


Nicholas: When members who are equally talented or more so get overlooked in terms of fan support. You know, the ones carrying air, while the popular guys have a handful of gifts walking around the airport. Or guys being made to wear very dreadful outfits, or just being hair lab rats.

Gaya: Seeing very talented idols who are somehow less loved by fans always breaks my heart.

Speaking personally, I’ve lately been concerned with Kai and his lot, mainly the part pertaining to his supposedly dark skin. As someone who is “blessed” with mindlessly disparaging comments about my skin colour, I can keenly understand Kai’s feelings about remarks he gets. Everyone likes to make it seem like a positive thing by focusing on it, but the way Kai’s skin colour is discussed and commented on almost relentlessly makes it difficult to believe these good intentions. It just gets annoying, and I really feel for Kai, because I don’t think this is stopping any time soon.

I also feel for female idols who regularly perform in heels. I’ve only done it once, but I came to the conclusion that the pain wasn’t worth it: I don’t know how they do it.

Jasper: There was a point where I really empathized for Secret‘s Song Ji-eun. It was during her short time participating in the then up-and-coming Immortal Song 2. This was back when only idols dominated the show, back when the likes of Hyorin, 2AM‘s Changmin and Yesung were still dominating. As much as the girl tried and as much hard work she put into her performances, she was never rewarded with a win. As talented as Song Ji-eun is, it was clear her competitors — basically the best of the idol performers — were superior, and seeing her try so hard only to come out empty-handed was something I could definitely relate with, experiencing the feeling myself.

Nicholas: I know what you mean there. It was like she was good, but the likes of Hyorin were just great every week.

Natalie: I always feel bad for the “ugly” members of the group, the ones that are deemed less attractive than the others. Maybe they don’t have double eyelids or are a little shorter or chubbier than everyone else. They’re always reminded of their status as the unattractive member.

I also feel bad for the bad dancers in every group. Jaejoong, Kris, Tiffany, T.O.P — they always stick out in performances and as someone that can’t dance, I know how terribly embarrassing that can be.

Maria: As a person with two left feet I get what you mean, Natalie, but I think usually the bad dancers of the group are considered adorable when they miss a step. Or maybe I just like to see T.O.P’s face when he fails, it’s soooo darn precious!

As for my personal preference, I really empathize with Krystal. A lot of rumors portray her in a negative way and a lot of people criticize her bad temper. I truly and honestly love her for that. I keep a straight face when I walk down the street, with my headphones on, directing K-pop videos in my head, and there are these creeps sometimes that stop me and start telling me to smile. I’m like “Do I owe you something? Do you have candies? Have you saved my life or anything…?” Krystal to me does this under a lot of pressure. She’s just not into playing by those rules and I perceive her as more natural this way.

Gaya: Speaking of Jungs, I also really feel for Jessica–it seems that both of us have an astounding lack of ball throwing skills. In fact, all the idols out there who are not athletically inclined, I’m right there with you.

And I agree, Maria, being told to smile by random strangers only serves to weird me out.

Nabeela: I empathize with Bommie (Park Bom) a lot, if you can believe it. She’s very expressive–its easy to see when she is frustrating but trying to fight it and when she is uncomfortable or sad. I guess in some far-fetched way, she is like the poster child of female insecurity; it is beyond me why she has gotten so much plastic surgery, or rather, who was insisting she should, but you know she does it to stay hot and young looking, however drastic a measure it may be. And I think it’s difficult for her too–I remember the episode of 2NE1 TV where she was talking about the first time she read the lyrics to “Ugly” and burst into tears. It was that moment I could really see her struggles, which I’m sure are not too different from other female idols’, about body image and actually relate to it in some way. Sad, but true I suppose.

(Elle Girl Korea, JYP Co., Mnet, Vogue Girl Korea, TS Entertainment, YG Entertainment)