Pointing out the problems in the KPOP system, Big Bang’s T.O.P announced that he would stand alone with the goal of establishing a new system of record companies.
T.O.P decorated the cover of the March issue of Prestige Hong Kong magazine and participated in an interview on March 9th (local time).
Through the interview, he revealed the feelings that he couldn’t deliver during the hiatus and expressed his position on this comeback.
Mentioning the drug scandal in 2017 as the worst moment in his life, T.O.P confessed his thoughts for the first time, “I did attempt to suicide five years ago. It was only later that I realized how much pain I had caused to people around me, my family, and my fans”. He then revealed how he overcame the slump in his life with music, saying, “At that time, I tried to quit music. However, it was music that helped me move forward in difficult times. I wrote more than 100 songs in 5 years. The idea of filling the bookshelf with my songs became my driving force”.
YG Entertainment recently announced the termination of their exclusive contract with T.O.P, stating that they respected T.O.P’s decision to expand the scope of his personal activities. T.O.P also hinted at the reason why he left Big Bang through the interview. Regarding his future plans, the rapper said, “Big Bang’s new song will contain the reason why I decided to leave and a message to fans”, adding, “Honestly, I don’t want to think this is my last comeback with Big Bang, but it may take a long time until I return as T.O.P of Big Bang. Of course, the possibility of Big Bang’s reunion is high because I love Big Bang and I’m still maintaining good personal relationships with the members”.
T.O.P talked about his goal of standing alone and pointed out the problems with the K-pop system that runs like a machine. He said, “The trainees are placed in a harsh system. They can gain popularity by being trained to do things like robots, but people can’t see their inner loneliness. I want to help them by setting up a new record company that makes real artists instead of robots.”
After a 4-year break, BIGBANG will make a comeback as a whole this spring. From G-Dragon and T.O.P’s marijuana scandals before and after the hiatus, to the ‘Burning Sun‘ case of Seungri, who withdrew from the group, BIGBANG’s image has been tarnished. So it is difficult for the public to disregard the members’ controversies and cheer for them wholeheartedly, but everyone will agree with the issues with the K-pop system pointed out by T.O.P. Even this year alone, many idol group members suspended their activities due to symptoms of psychological anxiety. In addition, through interviews or documentaries, the gloomy mental state of famous idols that comes from their emptiness behind the on-stage glamor can be felt.
As addressed by T.O.P, the K-pop system, which operates systematically and rapidly, including artist management such as production of music, performance, publicity and mental care, is facing new changes. Since the mid-2010s, entertainment agencies have been managing idols’ overall conditions, including lifestyle management, mental management, and even sex education. However, in a system that works at a faster speed than any other country like a non-stop printing machine, K-pop artists, who lack time to look back on themselves, are being put in an environment that is prone to psychological vulnerability and burnout. They are suffering from intensifying competition, evolving and persistent malicious comments, excessive schedules, and external control. In order to create a healthy music culture and promote long-term physical and mental health, attention and effort from the entertainment industry are needed.
It is not easy to unconditionally believe and support T.O.P‘s plan given his controversy so far. But his sincerity will be tested through the process of creating a new system he is preparing for. Attention is focused on what kind of new system T.O.P will establish under his record company and what changes that system will bring to the entertainment industry.