What are people doing about it?

Time of vloggingVlogs are a powerful medium through which people can express their thoughts and opinions in creative ways. People enjoy visuals and people like to be entertained. So if someone wants to know what other people think about a topic that they are interested in, in addition to blogs, vlogs are also extremely helpful in this aspect. This is not to say that blogs are not also extremely useful. Sometimes when there is too much information and too many thoughts to fit into a short and sweet video, that’s when you resort to other mediums like blogs. I would like to compare some vloggers and bloggers that go in depth on certain aspects of Korean culture, and especially Korean pop. I think both have done an excellent job getting their points out there in interesting ways, whether it be through humor, or knowing that the source knows things that the public generally would not know.

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We have Eat Your Kimchi speaking about Korean artist management and contracts. Simon and Martina are a couple who post videos on things related to K-pop: they rate albums, music videos, go on rants, make vlogs, etc. Their YouTube name is Eat Your Kimchi, and they are widely known within the K-pop community because they are consistent in putting out videos every week (or at least they used to). They try to make things humorous by keeping things at a fast pace and using funny faces and childish humor to lighten the mood. However, what Simon and Martina have to say often raises points about what is going wrong in the K-pop world. For instance, this video

is about the so-called “slave contracts” that has always been a hot topic in the K-pop world. Simon and Martina talked about the BEP, or breaking even point, that an artist strives to reach, and all the while the debt keeps growing. Not only that, but the company does not have any transparency with their artists. Their vision of social change is that they hope that if enough artists protest these kinds of contracts, companies will start caring less about getting back their investments and more about their artists. This is not the only video they’ve posted about Korean artists’ rights.

As seen below, there have actually been deaths in the K-pop world because of bad management.

This time around, Simon and Martina talk about what driving is like in Korea, and how the law about wearing a seatbelt is very loose. A few members of a girl group ended up passing away from a car accident that happened in bad driving conditions in the wee hours of the morning. Korean companies do not care for their artists the way they should. Schedules are crazy because it’s a dog eat dog world. If one particular artist feels they can’t perform on a certain stage, they’ll just be replaced and lose the chance to get their name out there. Simon and Martina offer another vision of social change hope for a union in the entertainment industry, but say it is not likely because it appears to be woven into the Korean lifestyle to work workers to the bone.

Finally, in this last video I wanted to share, Simon and Martina talk about plastic surgery as a cultural norm in Korea, which does affect Korean idols as well.

In Korea, it is not called plastic surgery. Instead, Koreans refer to it as “reforming surgery,” which negates the stigma attached to the word “plastic.” This has become an extremely prevalent practice in Korea to the point of becoming naturalized. This video is pretty important because Simon and Martina do a good job of informing their audience about the culture surrounding plastic surgery, while keeping it light-hearted and not too heavy. They explain that appearance has become one of the most important parts of getting a job in Korea, which means that both girls and boys are getting surgery for their jaw lines, their eyes, their noses, etc. The point that Simon and Martina try to make here is that there is a lack of individuality. Instead of trying to change the appearance centered culture, everyone is conforming.

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Now Oniontaker, as seen above, is a prominent blogger (he uses Tumblr and Twitter) in the K-pop fan world. He has access to stars in the Korean entertainment realm and gives well versed, analytical responses to fans that want to know what the deal is about their favorite idol. His blog is peppered with insights into the Korean entertainment life and statistics from actual Korean entertainment companies. He talks about some of the contract issues that Korean idols suffer from, he gives his thoughts on some idols who have left their original company, and he offers monetary statistics about the main three companies. This post gives some approximate estimates of operating profit in the K-pop entertainment industry. It is a brief summary that covers the top companies quickly mentions how digital sales are a game changer when in the past they used to be almost dependent on physical sales. He also gave his opinions on the Korean idols that have left their companies due to the unfair distribution of money. While most idols tend to stay under bad managements simply because it was hard to get to where they were, and Korean culture tells the people to be grateful and respectful to the hand that feeds them (aka don’t leave the company or that’s as good as betrayal). However, sometimes idols feel that the contracts are just too unfair to just sit and watch, so they do something. While in Kris’s case, it would appear that he was simply using his company to get famous so that he could ride off his fame once he got out of his initial contract. However, DBSK was one of the most famous boy bands to exist, but three of the members decided to leave so that they could earn a fairer share of what they worked for.

While these bloggers do talk about some extremely pressing issues that infringe on basic human rights such as the pursuit of happiness, no one really has tried farther than offering a solution. Nobody is doing anything about these problems. The K-pop fanbase is huge on tumblr and YouTube is the main go-to site if you want to watch videos of people talking about their opinions. However, a point of importance is that while everyone talks about this stuff, I have yet to find anyone who is actually advocating and trying to make changes about these issues. These visions of change will get nowhere if no one does anything about it, but that’s another problem in itself.

  • Meg Smith

 

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