September 8, 2014
Hey everyone. Sorry that this week’s Kpop Music Monday isn’t very playful, but considering the gravity of the situation, with Ladies’ Code fatal car accident, we thought that this was an appropriate time to talk about this accident and our thoughts on the industry as a whole (because, after all, we always talk about the industry as a whole, don’t we?)
We did a video a while ago about Why Dongho Quit Kpop and Why We Would Too, and in that video we talked a bit about how idols are overworked. And – for a lot of kpop fans – that usually translates to them thinking “oh, my oppas are in the dance studio practicing for hours everyday!” but that’s not the only way the artists are overworked. It’s a lot more insidious than that. Training hard for a performance is one thing; performing on every available show and performance is another, and it’s the latter that borders almost on the unethical.
Companies invest a lot of money in making a kpop band, and these artists don’t get that money for free. They have to pay it back, which is why you see so many of them doing tons of things outside of music. Commercials. Talk shows. Radio shows. Other things. The company needs to make that money back. Don’t even get us started on Kpop contracts.
We talked a bit about how we don’t even think unions or regulations can stop the industry from endangering itself. Workplace regulations, from our experiences, aren’t really that well enforced. An example of this can be seen in after school programs in Korea, called “hagwons.” The government passed regulations that forbid some of the hagwons from operating after a specific hour of night. We know people working in hagwons in which the manager just tells the staff to turn off the lights, so that the hagwon looks like it’s closed, but the teachers have to keep teaching and the students have to keep studying, in the dark. I expect no difference in the Kpop industry if regulations were passed, as creative ways to skirt those regulations will surely pop up.
I don’t know what can be done to change the situation. I’m not saying that the #BuckleUp campaign is a bad idea. Please, if you see your favourite idols on social media in a car without a seatbelt, tell them to buckle up. It’s a great start, and hopefully will make their inevitable injuries from future car accidents more manageable. But how can we get kpop companies to work their artists less? How can we get them to stay at a motel for the night instead of driving back through a tsunami? How can we get idols to sleep in their beds in their homes rather than the floors of their change rooms? How can we get idols to call it a day and not push it through a 50 hour music video shoot?
Really, the more we’re exposed to the industry, the more disenchanted we are by it. And there’s a fuckton more to it than we can openly talk about. But we see so much more of the wrong practices in place, and it really poisons the way we perceive the final product. Some people have commented on how our Music Mondays aren’t as lighthearted as before, and it’s true. When we first got into watching Kpop videos all we saw was pretty boys and girls dancing to flashy lights, and we laughed and clapped and cheered. Now, we know so much more about how the industry works. Diamonds are made out of coal, flowers grow out of shit, and kpop videos are produced by the industry. Idols quit. Actors flee. And in this situation, kids die, and this Chuseok parents will be honouring the graves of their ancestors while crying over the graves of their daughters.
Our deepest condolences go to the families of Ladies Code. Our sincerest condolences go to the surviving members of Ladies Code, who will be traumatized for life by that car accident. Martina suffers to this day from the car accident that could have killed her, and I’m sure that the many people in the industry who have been in accidents from trying to keep up with their crazy schedules have wounds they’re hiding on stage. Here’s Ladies’ Code last video. Give them a few more views, while you can.