After years of hard work and training, you finally make it to the level of being a K-Pop star. How do you live? To the public, it all looks fantastic. However, as a performer, it is shocking how much freedom you lose.
Unlike music careers in the United States, where the artist has a lot of influence over creative and business decisions, a K-Pop star has very little power over their career. Everything they do for their profession must be approved and controlled by the entertainment company they work for, which owns all the intellectual property (IP). The IP includes song copyrights, the band’s name, the photos, videos, and even the singer’s nicknames.
K-Pop singers who want to express their creativity in other areas, like taking a role in an international movie, get frustrated by the difficulty of obtaining permission. Even if the most famous directors in the world, like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, want to use a K-Pop star in a film, they have to pay a talent fee to the South Korean entertainment company to hire a K-Pop star.
The South Korean entertainment company may refuse permission, and there is nothing the K-Pop star can do about it. If they violate the terms of their contract, they get fired.
K-pop stars who get older must perform the same hit songs they sang when younger. Many get tired of this and want to quit but do not have any choice but to continue working, since no one will hire them to break their contract.
No Personal Life Allowed
While a K-Pop star is in training and during the first years of their debut with a successful group, they cannot date anyone. Any hint of a scandal, and they will lose their K-Pop star status.
Weigh-Ins and Drug Testing
Like a prizefighter who must always be a certain weight, a K-Pop star must meet the physical characteristics of maintaining a very skinny weight. They must constantly work out in the gym, get medical checkups, pass drug testing, and weigh in to ensure they do not gain weight. This intense control is for both sexes. Test positive for marijuana or other recreational drugs, and you get fired from the K-Pop group.
Constant Work with No Time Off
The musicians in a K-Pop band must work constantly. They practice, rehearse, record music, go on promotional tours, make television appearances, perform, and make music videos. The intensity of their work life drives most of them to exhaustion.
No Politics, No Religion, No Profit-Sharing
K-Pop idols are supposed to be cute, sing, dance, and follow the intense rules of the entertainment company that holds their contract. Any extracurricular activities, such as political action, are prohibited.
As a K-Pop idol, you cannot express any religious beliefs that might offend your fans.
The musicians in a K-Pop group get a salary from the entertainment company. They do not share in the immense profits that the entertainment company might make.
Is it worth it?
Knowing these restrictions might give you pause if you want to become a K-Pop star. While it is fun to be adored by millions of fans, it is also annoying to be unable to go anywhere without being recognized and have such severe restrictions placed on your life.