Rebekah’s Records: Guide to becoming a K-pop idol

To be a Korean Pop Idol, there are three simple rules to follow: 

  1. Be skinny 
  2. Be conventionally attractive
  3. Be innocent and pure 

If you’ve met all of these requirements, you’re pretty much set. 

If you didn’t catch it in my sardonic list of requirements to be a K-Pop idol, the expectations surrounding these supposedly perfect human beings are, well, inhumane. In the K-Pop industry, as well as the entertainment industry as a whole, keeping up a certain image is vital to a celebrity’s success. 

However, unlike American celebrities, these stressful rules for fame excess are doubled in its difficulty and brutality through Korean culture. 

Especially for Korean female singers, weight is a sensitive issue. K-Pop trainees in entertainment companies are often fired for the sole reason that their weight was one or two pounds over the required number. 

In a variety show a few years ago, Mina, the former member of girl group AOA, was forced to measure the width of her waist, winning a prize for the “smallest waist” in the history of the show. As a fan and viewer, I grew up watching the encouragement of these toxic beauty standards which definitely affected the way I perceived my body as well. For example, I found myself most attractive when I was at my skinniest because of the detrimentally unhealthy portrayal of these idols. 

The unrealistic standards that are imposed on these idols can also be seen when they are canceled by the Korean media for accidentally cursing, displaying a subjectively negative facial expression or even drinking alcohol despite being at a legal age. For example, Jennie Kim from Korean girl group Blackpink was canceled on social media a few years ago for supposedly having an annoyed facial expression numerous times during performance rehearsals and interviews. 

An incredibly obvious and important fact to remember  is that even though these women are seen as idols, they’re still humans. Sometimes, we regard them so much as untouchable, unapproachable beings, that we forget the most basic level of human decency — to let them breathe.