What Does It Mean to be a kpop “Idol”?

Jayden Devereese, Music Fanatic

Most people nowadays know about “kpop.” But do they know what it takes to be an “idol?” The standards and expectations for Korean pop idols are way greater than those in the western music industry. Most kpop companies have a list of rules set in their basic contracts for performers, but others can be made up along the way.

 In the Western Industry we all know the basic rule, “don’t tangle with the paparazzi,” but in Korea, the publicity is kept to an absolute minimum. Most, if not all, trainees and new idols are kept in dorm rooms to minimize the public exposure. They aren’t allowed to have personal cell phones to stop them from exposing themselves. They can’t have personal relationships with anyone inside or outside the company, they are limited to their group and the people helping to create their music.

On top of losing your freedom, you’re expected to look your absolute best when you are leaving the dorms/house or performing. They go through extreme dieting and exercise just to be shoved into restrictive clothing and have makeup slapped on their face for a 10 second walk outside to get in a car. 

In return for all this, the idols get publicity from on stage and endless compliments from fans. If they break through charts and get recognized, some companies do allow their idols to have cell phones. They think of it as their reward for achieving great sales!