While there are numerous uniquely wonderful elements to the K-Pop industry, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In an episode of YouTube‘s new documentary series, K-Pop Evolution, former Wonder Girls member and soloist HA:TFELT shared her thoughts on how the industry could be changed to support idols better.
First off, HA:TFELT brought up one fundamental flaw in the industry: “The overall premise that idols are products.” If K-Pop stars are seen as nothing but a means to general profit, HA:TFELT says, “We have to give up all our rights as human beings.” Last month, the former Wonder Girls star revealed that being told she’s a product is the most hurtful thing she’s heard.
As an idol, it hurt me the most when someone said, ‘You’re a product.’ My worth and existence just meant my commercial value. That commercial value was me. I couldn’t distinguish between the two, and that made it hard for me to love myself.
That said, HA:TFELT doesn’t believe the situation is hopeless. “As we continue to talk… and try to solve things through dialogue,” she shared, “I think it will help change the way people think.” But what do idols, agencies, and fans really need to do to transform the industry into a healthy and happy space for artists? HA:TFELT has her own theories.
Starting with idols, HA:TFELT says she wants K-Pop artists to love themselves more and voice their opinions with more conviction. In the past, many stars have revealed that they weren’t able to stand up to their companies or share their opinions without feeling like their careers were at risk.
Next, HA:TFELT wants agencies to start treating artists “more humanely.” From mandated diets to dating bans to packed work schedules with no rest, it’s no secret that K-Pop idols face numerous difficulties at the hands of their companies—difficulties that no person should have to bear.
Finally, HA:TFELT says fans and the public play a role too. “I want them to think more about the basic right to happiness of the artists they love,” the soloist stated. While she didn’t elaborate on the point, it’s likely she’s referring to the intense scrutiny non-celebrities lay onto idols over issues like dating, weight, performance on stage, and more.
Idols are people too, to put it simply.