Being an idol is not an easy task. The K-Pop industry covers up a lot but in recent years, it seems to be easier to see how idols are created in Korea and the work behind it. The workaholic society of an idol really interested me so there are three points that I thought about while writing this: Song production, Pre-debut trainees and Economy leading to idol life.

Song Production

On Asian Junkie, there were a few commenters discussing the difference between idols and artists and music. The source of the article they were commenting on is attached to the pictures.

When it comes to song production, idols are treated like products with expiry dates. They must produce a hit song every couple of months especially with recent articles saying that K-Pop has reached it’s peak on several articles online. Eun Ji Won (formerly a member of Sechs Kies) once said on Happy Together that idols in the 90’s/early 00’s would produce albums yearly. Of course, idol’s song are usually written by a composer (the majority are). But I find that strange because I’m sure I heard when they are trainees they learn to write and compose songs or was that only for tasks in pre-debut documentaries?

Fans are obsessed with K-Pop because of the constant releases no matter how similar some of the songs are. I agree with one of the commenter’s about the effect of a stage, there shouldn’t be a comeback or goodbye stage if you ask me because it should only apply to idols who are coming back after more than a year (e.g. BoA and Se7en who made a comeback after 3-5 years), take B.A.P’s title songs for example as well.

Pre-debut Training:

In K-Pop, they tend to debut extremely trained idols, if you’re not able to sing live or dance, your debut won’t be noticed and the trainees seem to go through more intense training than J-Pop idols

Not extremely, but they are trained to do more than that like if their skills aren’t or can be improved. It’s kind of like saying “If you’re not good at the basics, then you can do a different and simpler (that’s the way I look at it) task.”

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Economy leading to idol life

In a seoulbeats article I read the other day, a few quotes made me think about the growth of idols now:

President Lee has advised his country’s youth to consider forgoing university altogether and instead consider alternative pathways, like attending a vocational college, as well as to encourage companies to hire more school leavers

And why can’t becoming an idol be one such option? After all, idols are often recruited before they’ve even finished high school and their training costs are not up-front; in fact, because companies have invested in their trainees, they will be more likely to debut them than not in an effort to recoup their investment, so there is a greater chance of being able to work as an idol.

Their point about career and the lack of jobs in economy is something new to me. It seems like they are referring to the fact that some idols chose their career because of the lack of employment that is going on in the world. This could be why there are more companies debuting more idols groups younger and younger in age (or maybe that companies want to get into the music industry so bad for money). Anyways this could be why it seems to be more about being employed and start a career young than do nothing and have the economy fall.

Sure most have the ambition to be a singer and understand the hard work but I’m also thinking about the ones that were street-casted or those with no interest in becoming an idol in the first place that may be picked entirely for their looks.

Anyways, what do you think?

You can also find this article here on my blog.

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Co-founder and former writer at UnitedKpop, can be found loving all things JYP.