Referring to K-Pop artists as “youth singers”, a North Korean news website has recently found itself the subject of headlines after posting what is being seen as an attempt to discourage its own people from indulging in the musical stylings of its Southern counterparts. Arirang-Meari recently released a piece on their “Arirang News” section with the headline,
“South Korean youth singers under big companies forced to live miserably,”
In it, the article highlights how artists in South Korea are treated like “slaves” and are “imprisoned” by big companies. They cite BTS (aka the Bangtan Boys) and BLACKPINK as examples of such idols.
“Most of the youth singers, including BTS and Blackpink, reportedly sign contracts with entertainment industry conglomerates such as SM Entertainment at a young age. These South Korean youth singers are tied to unfair contracts and detained at training facilities, and that they are being deprived of their body, heart and soul while being treated as slaves by malicious and corrupt entertainment industry conglomerate bosses.”
It goes on to add that these companies are known to “suck most revenues out of the singers under a nominal purpose of using the money to train them”. Also brought up is the issue of mental health, highlighting how some artists have taken their own lives as a result. The accountability, it claims, lies with “evil, corrupted presidents of arts companies who enslave them by robbing them of body, mind and soul”.
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Despite singling out BTS and BLACKPINK, who are Big Hit Entertainment and YG Entertainment artists respectively, the article by Arirang-Meari focuses on SM Entertainment. SM is home to major players like Super Junior, Shinee, TVXQ!, Exo, Red Velvet, NCT, SuperM and Aespa. It also previously introduced first generation idols like S.E.S., Fly to the Sky, Shinhwa and was home to second-generation idols from Girls’ Generation (some have stayed on with the company), f(x) and Henry Lau. It is said that the direct mention of SM Entertainment is related to Red Velvet’s previous performance in 2018, held at Pyongyang as part of South Korea’s peace initiative.
— ᴅᴋᴅᴋᴛᴠ (@dkdktv92) April 2, 2018
According to the South Korean news site, NK Economy (the first South Korean online news outlet to report the news), Arirang’s report was part of a larger plan to “prevent fanning of K-pop artists’ popularity throughout its own citizens.”
*Cover image credits: @bts.bighitofficial / @blackpinkofficial