Despite being one of the important factors helping to spread the Hallyu wave to many countries around the world, K-pop idols are still being looked down on.
Despite being one of the important factors helping to spread the Hallyu wave to many countries around the world, K-pop idols have not yet earned their rightful place in the entertainment industry. Compared to actors, idols have a lower status or are even labeled as a group of people who only know how to dance and sing to entertain others.
The profession that appeared not long ago
Compared to other entertainment fields, K-pop idols have a relatively young age, having only appeared in Korea since the mid-1990s. The first group that opened up K-pop idol culture was H.O.T. This group debuted in 1997 under the investment of SM Entertainment.
Instead of just focusing on vocals like mainstream singers, K-pop idols have the ability to sing and dance at the same time. Besides, the ability to dance is a must for someone who wants to enter the idol world. Their singing skills may not be outstanding, but they must have stability when performing.
Later, the standards of idols were significantly upgraded with many harsh requirements. From having a beautiful face, a standard body to a good personality and not being afraid to publicize private life on social networks or reality shows.
At the same time, not-so-beautiful real-life images, bad habits or dating also gradually become unacceptable when you’re an idol. The public gradually considers them to be entertainers, desirable role models, and not just an ordinary person.
Different professional characteristics
In Korea, idol groups were born just to serve the tastes of young people. They are merely thought to be well-trained in singing and dancing, with little artistic profundity.
Idols are under management from the company they signed with. Accordingly, their image and music style are also pre-assigned by the company. This causes many Korean stars to act up to the standard with the predetermined “role“.
In the eyes of the public and people in the art industry, K-pop idols are considered to be people who are only beautiful but not really talented. They are said to have to rely on their beauty and clever manners to win the hearts of fans and make money in the harsh entertainment industry.
Because their reputation depends on their fans, idols must try to have strategies to maintain their fan base. If the number of fans is increasing, the revenue from selling items, goods, photobooks, concert tickets, etc. will also increase significantly. If idols earn money for the company, they also receive more favors.
Furthermore, Korean idols are underestimated in terms of education. Most idol training companies will find trainees from a young age. Because of the hectic schedule, most idols are unable to properly pursue their schooling like their colleagues.
In one year, many idols made their debut. Therefore, Korean idols must have their own mark to be able to exist in this market. Because of that, groups that have the ability to compose, have smart members, if they have a great education level, they are more appreciated by the audience. Typically, BIGBANG, 2NE1, BTS, Mamamoo… are loved because of their differences from other groups.
Short career span
Unlike actors, the average career span of an idol is just 5-7 years old, despite the fact that they debut at a young age. As a result, if they do not want to be forgotten by the public, they must make excellent use of their youth by actively running events and releasing new products.
To retain their reputation in the entertainment industry, certain idols with special talents will usually enter other fields such as MCing, acting, and so on. There are only a handful of idols, who can be successful in other fields, such as Suzy (Miss A), LeeTeuk (Super Junior), and Hani (EXID)
The public’s strict look at idols
The public always asks idols to always show their perfect side. Being caught in a bad mood or dating can get them criticized for years.
If an actor is caught in a tax evasion scandal or evading military service, they may be criticized but they can still make a comeback. However, the audience sets stricter standards for idols. Not to mention major scandals, as long as an idol is accused of having a bad attitude, he may have to permanently retire from his career.
Organizers of music awards often invite famous actors to present awards to idols. But at movie events, the organizers always invite idols to sing and dance to entertain the actors.
In general, K-pop idols are becoming more and more appreciated by the public because they can create great value and help spread Korean culture to the international market. However, compared to other artistic professions such as actors, MCs, comedians, etc., idols are still ranked at the bottom of the ladder of fame.