The Down Side of Being an “Idol”

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Jayden Devereese, Music Fanatic

In the western music industry you frequently see artists getting personal, writing about struggles, the bad choices they’ve made, or what they’re going through mentally. But in South Korea’s pop music industry, you’re expected to be perfect, you can’t have issues. Many Idols hide the fact that they even have depression. Some, if not many, have come clean and told fans that they suffer from depression, it’s not all that uncommon.

South Korea’s music industry is a tight business to get into, and when you do get into it, you might not always be the happiest. Some idols even develop social issues due to the lack of social interaction in the trainee stage. There have also been cases where some idols have been suicidal and a few have gone through with it. 

Jonghyun Kim, a past member of the group SHINee, committed suicide in 2017 at the age of 27. Some odd days before, he had been posting some concerning things on social media, finally left one last message and killed himself in his apartment in Seoul. Fans, family and other members were devastated, but had known he was struggling with depression and other mental problems. 

As a response, to help prevent mental health issues, groups and solo artists have made songs and campaigns to promote mental health. Not speaking badly, saying that they have mental struggles (that would be frowned upon).

The group BTS launched a campaign called “Love Yourself”. They created a series of 3 albums that fans see as, “the happy side of, the dark side of, and the answer.” The albums are called (respectively) “Her,” “Tear,” and “Answer.”  Sales showed how important the topic has become, breaking charts in Korea and teaching a lot of fans to love themselves.

It has helped many. Later BTS launched another tour called “Speak Yourself,” it was initially to help people be able to use their voices and show people not to be afraid to show their true colors.