What is left for Kpop idols when their golden era is gone?

When their pinnacle is passed, many 2nd generation idols are now turned back by the crowd.

For fans, idols can be youth, a beautiful memory to remember. K-pop idols, on the other hand, are simply one part of the intense idol business in the eyes of the general public and those in the “idol industry”.

Second generation idols
The second generation of idols brought K-pop to Asia and the world

Why is it called the idol industry? Because the immediate goal that management companies set is to use music, movies, and people to make a lot of profit. Meanwhile, Koreans’ long-term goal in growing this business is to export their culture, resulting in Korea’s tourism, fashion, economics, and other aspects becoming “standards” for other nations to follow, boosting the country’s regional and worldwide standing.

Second generation idols
K-pop is an industry that is part of Korea’s long-term cultural promotion plan

Because of that, idols who are “gods” in their fans’ eyes are just a small link in that huge machine, which is easy to be replaced and eliminated. The idol industry is always looking for new faces to promote. That is also the reason why the old generation idols are quickly forgotten, turned away by the audience and their own fans.

Starting from the management company restricting idol comebacks, the projects for the older generation idols are no longer prioritized, the music quality goes down, and they appear less on TV.  Idols who have been active for a long time will loosen up with their image management, easily falling into bad scandals that cause their reputation to drop.

Second generation idols
Second generation idols are slowly stepping back into the past after a decade of trying their best

The second generation of K-pop idols like SNSD, Super Junior, SHINee, JYJ, T-ARA and even disbanded groups like Miss A, KARA, Sistar, 2NE1 are being estranged by the Korean public after reaching their peak. The indifferent reaction of Korean public opinion to the news that Miss A officially disbanded further confirms this bitter truth that is happening.

In 2008, when Super Junior was the most popular boy group in Korea, no one would have imagined that 9 years later, only half of the members stayed with the group. The boys who used to be the prince in fans’ eyes are now criticized every day because of their turbulent scandals before the comeback.

Second generation idols
Super Junior’s perfect 13-member lineup many years ago

No one can believe that the most unique girl group in K-pop, 2NE1, has accepted to disband in bitterness. Dara struggled to participate in TV shows despite being criticized by the audience, Minzy’s solo was still unknown to the public. The leader of the group CL also hasn’t left any strong impression to America’s audience and ParkBom was heavily ostracized by the public.

The first generation K-pop fans are sad when looking back at what happened to Yoochun (JYJ), Kim Hyun Joong (SS501), and Kangin (Super Junior). The three idols that were once above everyone are now the criminals in the public’s eyes.

Second generation idols
From left to right: Yoochun, Kim Hyun Joong, Kangin

That’s why Korean showbiz is extremely harsh and cruel. Today you may be a superstar, a top idol, a trend, but you can also be boycotted and disparaged for something you do tomorrow. This cycle does not exclude and lets go of anyone, even the hottest faces of third-generation idols or later fourth and fifth generation.

That is also the reason why many K-pop idols are shocked, depressed, and desperate when they suddenly lose their fame, lose a large number of fans.  They are just simply past their peak and are about to be replaced by a newer, younger group.

Second generation idols
Very few second generation idols still hold their position like they did in their heyday

This is a sad ending for the second generation idols, who have dedicated themselves for more than a decade. They are confronted with the cost of fame, as well as the unsustainable career they have chosen. Especially when the group disbands, Idols without strong abilities will rapidly be forgotten by the public.

Many idols, on the other hand, have maintained their reputation and continue to receive a lot of affection from their fans. Those are idols that are really dedicated to their job and possess musical abilities. When the companies are no longer actively investing in and finding them good songs, they might make their own music. For example, the audiences have always trusted and welcomed IU, Zico, Highlight,… whenever they make a comeback.

Today, only a small percentage of talented singers opt to pursue a career as an idol. When the idol group craze diminishes, solo, underground, and hip hop artists will rise to the top due to their high-quality songs. That is, after all, the logic of both the entertainment industry and life.

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