Are fan sites bad for K Pop

The downside of K-pop: depression, rape, suicides

Skin and posture are flawless, the smile fulfilling the contract. The mood is great, the egos are little wellness oases: "Come with me to Instagram." It's the world of K-pop. This is short for South Korean pop culture. It is an illusory world for children and adolescents, of which post-pubescent people do not notice, as long as the relevant mixture of ringtone-electro and precast hip-hop does not echo from the room of the offspring.

K-pop has become a mass phenomenon in recent years. First it hit the music scene, but it has long since dominated films, TV series and advertising with its beautiful, young and happy people. In the last few months, however, existence has been breaking through more and more often: suicides, cyberbullying and rape have shaken this world of smiles.

Tremendous pressure

At the end of November, K-Pop stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon were sentenced to six and five years in prison for gang rape of two women. In October, the 25-year-old singer Sulli of the girl group f (x) was found dead. She was bullied online for showing a nipple showing in one of her photos, reportedly suffering from depression and very likely committed suicide. Goo Hara aka Hara from the girl group Kara was 28 years old when she died at the end of November. Here too, suicide is suspected. And last week, 27-year-old Cha In Ha was found dead and suicide is considered likely.

Many see the reason for this in the pressure on the test tube stars. Although K-Pop carries the promise of freedom of pop to the outside world, there is a strict regime behind the scenes, because K-Pop has long since become an economic factor. The boy band BTS alone is said to have brought the South Korean economy over three billion dollars. BTS is the abbreviation for Bangtan Sonyeondan, which means "bulletproof boy scouts". They were the first K-Pop band to make it to the top of the charts in the USA, and the band was also listed in the charts in this country.

Long recycling chain

But the charts are just one of many areas to be hit. The medium of this culture is the network. Youtube, the social networks, Instagram or the Chinese Tiktok. Everything that serves as an information carrier. Because every successful group has a commercial chain that constantly nourishes the interest of the fans and their demand for new fan products.

The stars play along, constantly updating their accounts, because the feeling of being in close contact with them via mobile phone must not let up on the fan side. Being a K-pop star is a 24/7 job.

Many are not up to this, the network in particular is ruthless. Misconduct triggers withdrawal of love, leads to cyberbullying and hate postings. The collecting companies determine what is wrongdoing. That goes as far as the ban on relationships with their stars. Sex? Drugs? Eccentric Views? Everything taboo. Even stock market prices can suffer from misconduct.

Prepared for the tough life

The chosen ones are made fit for this life in long-term trainee programs. They are housed in shared apartments, they train up to 13 hours a day, there is no time for a self-determined life, the kids have to deliver. The ideal starting age is ten or eleven years. Companies like SM Entertainment, founded in 1995, leave nothing to chance. SM, a name like a character, is one of the big players in the genre.

The company should not even shy away from cosmetic surgery in order to adapt its protagonists to the ideal of the K-pop world: pale skin, small nose, European-looking eyelids. In the Gangnam district of Seoul there are said to be more plastic surgeons than taxi drivers, and in no other country in the world is there as much plastic doctoring as in South Korea.

Gangnam is a keyword that heralded a turning point in K-Pop. In 2012, K-pop star Psy released the song Gangnam style, which is said to have been the most successful YouTube video by 2017 with 2.9 billion clicks. In its slipstream, a boom set in, which today includes around 300 groups.

The most acute ones include BTS, EXO, Wanna One, NCT, Got7, Seventeen or Astro. Music appeared in the early 1990s, but with Psy and social media, K-Pop has now developed an enormous dynamic.

Fast company

South Korean society is used to speed; "Ppalli-Ppalli" - fast, fast - is considered an everyday normal state. At the same time one feels obliged to the traditions, has great respect for old age - even if its representatives are very often drunk. Alcohol is a widely accepted popular drug, and being hungover is accepted as an excuse even at work. In addition, one indulges in a Weltschmerz, the Han.

Han describes a pessimistic basic feeling peculiar to the South Koreans, which does not dissolve. It ranges from the idealization of pain through a collective feeling of suffering to hatred and is rooted in the time when Korea was occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945. This state of mind has even created its own genre with the films it produced.

K-pop is often seen as an attempt to escape it. The result is a dazzling illusory world, a borderline between sexy and honest, cheeky and adapted, behind which there is a machine that robs children of their childhood and youth. Instead of escaping the Han, more and more often K-pop leads straight there. (Karl Fluch, December 15, 2019)

Help in crises

There are a number of contact points for people in crisis situations and their relatives. At www.suizid-praevention.gv.at you can find emergency numbers and first aid for thoughts of suicide.

Telephone help is also available at:

Immediate psychiatric help (midnight): 01/313 30

Crisis Intervention Center (Mon-Fri 10 am-5pm): 01/406 95 95, kriseninterventionszentrum.at

ยท Advice and help with suicide risk 0810/97 71 55

Social psychiatric emergency service 01/310 87 79

Telephone counseling (midnight, free): 142

Wire advice (midnight to midnight, for children and young people): 147

The helpline for children, adolescents and adults (Mon-Sat 2-6 p.m., free of charge): 0800/20 14 40

Conversation and behavioral tips: bittelebe.at