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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The grim reality behind the rise of the entertainment market

I found an interesting series of articles by E-Daily where they delve into the issues surrounding the over-saturation of the idol market. It gives some good insight so check it out below!

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We have reached a generation where there are now over one million teens dreaming of becoming idols.

One TV advertisement lays out the reality with just a simple phrase: "You and I can be an idol; there are no more children dreaming of becoming scientists." In certain parts of Seoul like Nonhyundong and Chungdamdong alone, there are an estimated 5,000 trainees hoping for a chance to debut. If you include the number of elementary school students who listed becoming an idol as their career goal, the number far exceeds a million.

Jumping with the trend is also the growth of businesses specializing in idol trainees. From vocal academies to acting academies, and even plastic surgery hospitals - they're all spreading by the day. Every sector of the market is wanting a piece of the pie, and Gangnam is evidence of that as there simply aren't enough buildings or space anymore to house new businesses like villa-style dormitories for idol groups and dance rehearsal studios.

There has been an incredible rise in academies over the past two to three years. Vocal academies have risen by 10 times through the success of audition shows like Mnet's 'Superstar K'. A director of the Voice Fact Academy commented, "There are over 3,000 registered vocal academies nationwide. There are hundreds alone in Seoul. Just until two to three years ago, there were only a handful of major academies, but now there are probably close to 40~50."

Hospitals specializing in plastic surgery and dermatology, beauty salons, and fitness centers are all popular business items as well. A company spends close to $1,000~2,000 USD a month on beauty expenses alone to prepare for their debut.

CEO Lee Dae Hee of Star Fox Entertainment had to say, "Since it is a profession that focuses on what you have to show, our artists and trainees spend more on managing their outer appearance than their actual skills. These days, competition is tough so these business will partner up with entertainment companies for special perks and promotional offers."

The rise in such businesses can be accredited to the profit value of the Korea entertainment market. There are rising numbers across the board, as seen with the 16% rise in the content development market, an 11.9% rise in the music market, a 4.5% rise in the movie market, and a 6.1% rise in the broadcast market.

Unfortunately, there's also a shadow looming over these numbers. In hand with the rise of success also brings 'dark hands' like unqualified instructors setting up academies to bait trainees and rob them of their money and time. The secretary general of the Entertainment Management Association said, "There isn't a clear answer that leads to becoming a celebrity so trainees will do whatever they can to get the skills they need to succeed. The only way we can continue the growth of the entertainment market is if we block people from using the dreams of these kids for money."

-

Let's take a look at the monthly expenses for 'A', an actress who had a small role in a recent drama. She spends over $1,000 USD a month on beauty expenses alone. $500 goes into acting lessons (8 to 10 times a month), $500 goes into getting facial treatments (10 times a month), $100 goes into getting hair treatments (once a month), $500 goes into Pilates, and $400 goes into Japanese lessons.

The numbers aren't too different from other trainees or rookie stars.

Audition programs are now even after the pockets of these people, as they've started demanding application fees per audition. One such operation was caught and brought to court. Lee Ji Hoon of JellyFish Entertainment had to say, "It is possible that auditions will ask for a minimum fee, but you should always be suspicious if you're asked more than what you feel you should be comfortable with."

Some academies have even taken to demanding money from their students for training upkeep. One CEO revealed that companies will usually pay for everything for the artist up front and then request a payback after the artist has debuted and made enough money to do well. Such is the case with plastic surgery. Companies will pick a hospital of their choice for the procedure and the trainee can pay back the costs after their debut.

-

We hear back from 'C', who's just visited a sex salon in Hakdong, Seoul. There's a special menu in this salon. A waiter gave him a menu with the title 'Service Menu'. On it is a list of the names of celebrity trainees. There are even some names that have debuted and are promoting today. "I was really surprised to see so many names I recognized."

An insider who's worked for over 10 years in the industry revealed, "Celebrities who go on hiatus will work at these sex salons or as DJs and other types of 'service' workers at karaokes to make a living."

It's naive to think that just because you become a celebrity that everything else will fall into place. Being in the entertainment industry is like working freelance in that you have to give up on being paid regularly. According to the Korea Broadcasting Actors Union, 72% of the 5,000 actors they have registered with them make less than $10,000 USD a year.

The situation isn't any different for idols. Although it's just as hard without a company, the difficulties they face are the same even with a company. At their request, artists can ask that the company pay for their living expenses, but this will all be taken out of their next pay check, so they continually sit on debt.

And just because you've landed a drama role doesn't mean much either. The minimum amount an actor was paid for a drama was $36.65 USD. For a 16 episode mini-series, the actor was basically paid 70 cents an episode once you take out the division with the company and other expenses like stylists, transportation, food, etc.

That's why most will take on two jobs to make ends meet. One actress 'C' works at a bar in Gangnam. "When people ask me why I'm working here, I don't know what to tell them."

Others can't escape the seduction of the fast cash the sex service industry can bring. Those that do end up going this route, however, live every day in fear and anxiety of whether they can pick their careers back up again.

'D', who's currently preparing for his own debut, said, "I knew this one trainee who didn't have a lot of things going for him after some disagreements with his company. He began working at a bar while going through some tough times and eventually fell to depression and developed a panic disorder, which is making it even harder for him to find a job."

-

Source: E-Daily [1] [2] [3]

72 comments:

  1. My mission in life: to go to Hakdong and try to find that salon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ^Tell me who are the idols there xD

    ReplyDelete
  3. with so many trainees these days I think it's all about connections...either that or luck in a show like k-pop star...poor kids in other areas than Seoul have little chances.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stay in school kids

    ReplyDelete
  5. if it doesn't pay that much,why are they still pursuing that career path?just for a chance to be seen on tv?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Because it DOES pay well - at the very top.

    ReplyDelete
  7. But but Kolea is so awesome and wholesome, things like this could never be going on....

    ReplyDelete
  8. today i was thinking my life was boring
    but i prefer this boring life
    even thought i like k-pop am really thankful am not Korean there life is hard and dirty
    people there only think about sex and money

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wtf. Are you generalizing Koreans now?

      Delete
    2. How ignorant and way to generalize =_=

      Delete
  9. i'm just hoping that netizenbuzz translate more articles like this. thanks a looot~

    maybe movie production should start making more hit movies/dramas regarding other professions like engineer, doctor (it's still seen as prestigious work in korea i think, and plastic surgeons are making bucks so people would love to do a career there), etc etc. i know j-drama like good luck able to make people apply to be a pilot more. and isn't korea government way of controlling medias already famous? i mean, why can't the government spend more in publicizing other professions and stop the oversaturated idol-dom?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because it is one of the easiest ways. Studying in Korea, getting accepted to college and looking for job is hell. It is really difficult. You need to study nonstop and work hard.

      Delete
    2. ^ i know from my friend in korea that the students pursuing for college study nonstop in hakwon until late night, etcetc. yeah, it's scary. i'm curious, are there only few universities in korea? i mean, how can the sat be that competitive? how competitive is sat? aren't there any private universities too? again, i'm just curious of why the sat for entering non-showbiz related majors are that scary for them? basically, to debut as an idol, they'd undergo scary and tiring process as well.

      Delete
    3. It's scary because if they don't get into a good school, they're screwed so it's not really about the lack of colleges...

      Delete
  10. Sex salons?? COOL, I envy you lucky guys. esp. Nickhun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But...those trainees have to sell their body to make the bills or debut faster. How is it lucky for them?

      Delete
  11. Please post more of these type of articles. I enjoyed reading it a lot more than what netizens think of idols, and stars.

    ReplyDelete
  12. to join eating the big pie, kids should just pursue career as sound engineers or graphic designers. i'm annoyed at half assed production in small companies' releases *coughc-jescough*, sometimes even in larger companies they just autotune it in a cheap way, and ugly ugly ugly album case and repeated concept again and again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Why someone had mention nichkhun?? It doesn't make sense at all. Please just Stop doing it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is sad, the entertainment industry can be soul crushing and it's not just in korea. Every entertainment industry has their bad side.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's not even if you make it to the top for these poor idols. It matters what company you sign up to. YG has less top groups but their top groups get paid really well. On the other hand, SME, the most popular company, with the most popular celebrities (who have the most options)........their top groups are still living in dorms. For companies below SME, it is even worse.
    It's just that the media shows these idols wearing luxury items, etc. all the time......but in reality those are sponsored items owned by the company, and once you leave, taken back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YG artists get paid really well? Yeah the ones who write their own shit. I assure 2NE1 ain't making bank like BB, and 2NE1 still lives in their dorms.

      So if you're just an idol and you sign onto YG you're probably going to make just as much as any other idol.

      Delete
    2. And so? 2NE1's dorm is heaven.

      Delete
    3. adults living together in a dorm is not a heaven especially if you're making enough money to have your own place.

      Delete
  16. That's a shame, really. I think K-pop stars make it look too easy to be a star which influences the younger ones to want to be a star, when they don't know what the consequences will be. smh

    ReplyDelete
  17. This year 30 rookies group had debut!! When things are already difficult for established idols and groups, I just cant imagine for rookies!! What shocked me most was minimum wages for a Drama was $36.75( per ep 70 cent)!! that really low!! |Even working part-time in Mcdonalds or any other restaurant, we are hourly paid with Minimum wages of 5-6 pounds!! Its really hard for rockies and idols/celebs in SK!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thats just a random number, so the tax office is happy. Basically these people work for free, or even pay to become known.

    ReplyDelete
  19. wow what a dirty industry o_o

    ReplyDelete
  20. Unfortunatly that is true. What happened to dreaming about being a nurse, Doctor, Scientist and surgeons and along with many dreams. Being famous won't help you. No one is going love you, yeah maybe to your face but they won't love you forever like how your mother would or how you husband would.

    Also just debuting doesn't mean you have made it. It takes time to make it and one song and an album won't cut it.

    People need to have proper dreams and not dreams about becoming a celebrity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you 100%.
      The idol world is too glamorized in SK and to put it bluntly, it's the "easy way out" of the usual stressful and tough studying route.
      It's getting unhealthy IMO.
      Other Asian countries are just as competitive , so SK should just deal with it.
      And the sex salon thing, smh... This is why being celebrities isn't a really practical thing, with the exceptions of the really famous ones who make a lot of $.
      Also, they are a bunch of idols who aren't skilled in singing or dancing. They got in through their looks, and IMO , these "singers" are the worst kind, and to put it bluntly, they don't have the talent and should not be called "singers" (FYI, Korean idols are sometimes referred as "singers" or "가수" in Korea .)

      Delete
  21. Instetesting topics like these will never appeal on the All K flop site, thanks so much for translating.
    And oh boy I wanna find that salon that has trainee idols.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Korea needs child labor laws STAT

    ReplyDelete
  23. look at the people so surprised at this fact.

    Any entertainment industry of ANY country, even your own, has this kind of problem.

    Judge your own country first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. um, no. the entertainment industry of course not pure, that kind of sex service also not something exclusive to korea, but at least, there's no that many celebrities debuting every year and kids generally don't aspire to be celebrities... they aspire to be something... not as good as celebrities actually.

      Delete
    2. For some reason your last sentence sound defensive....

      Delete
  24. If everyone wants to be an idol, what's the point of being an idol?

    ReplyDelete
  25. i love the sex salons in korea, almost as good as the cafes in japan. japan and korea ftw!

    ReplyDelete
  26. There will come a day where the Kpop industry will implode on its own, too many bad decisions...

    Also they really need to start creating more and better laws to protect the kids.

    ReplyDelete
  27. lol at people being surprised. It's the entertainment industry. Why so shocked?

    ReplyDelete
  28. ^kinda funny that they are bent on protecting the youth that they have agencies with the same functions(mogef,korean media ratings board,kgcsc(i'm not sure of the acronym)that is to screen mv yet there are few laws protecting their youth.

    are the klawmakers bent on exploiting their youth?

    ReplyDelete
  29. I thought most of these trainees are under 18? How many non-adult trainees are used in sex salons?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Play: Zico - Battle Royal

    ReplyDelete
  31. its really sad but im not even surprised by all these... the only thing I didnt know was the 70 cents per episode O___O WTF???! thats cruel... with things like this i just feel awful for people going the route Jang Ja Yun had to go...
    even when things are like these and people keep taking lessons to debut, there should be a deeper reason like them finding even harder to get a normal job than debuting...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm...I'm guessing since expectation for graduating and get into a good college is so high, kids rather take the easy way out. Maybe they also bought into the hype of hallyu, thinking if they become idols; they can be some sort of national representatives or have a good life if they make it big. Another reason could be that it's easier to be idols than solos and they can easily find more devoted fans quicker. For boy groups, fangirls are extremely loyal.

      Delete
  32. yes, a lot of actors and actresses work in sex salons.. it's really sad how they have to seel their bodies for money.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Ah, the price for fame :). I'm surprised how over a million teens are aspiring to be idols.. yet the government isn't doing anything about it. How do they expect the country to prosper if so many young people are wasting their time trying to be famous and not working towards a realistic occupation?

    I like reading articles like these.. I hope you translate these kinds more :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. what a heartbreaking & gut-wrenching experience of korea's aspiring idols/celebs.
    i guess they have to choose the lesser of two evils:the pressure to excel in school or the lure of fame in the idol-world.
    i like this type of investigative journalism in the k-entertainment world compared to the crappy goddess-praising selca journalists usually wrote.
    NB thanks for translating.pls more on these type of articles plus rumor-mill & x-files.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Maybe to a lot of teens it offers escapism from all the academic pressure that is put on them, and the promise of a glamorous lifestyle in the future,which is a shame because isn't South Korea a growing economy with hugely successful companies like Samsung? The competition to get the best qualifications must be fierce, and I have empathy with that, but their economic climate is really on their side to be entrepreneurial and creative with business.

    ReplyDelete
  36. the salon, surely have no SM idols.

    ReplyDelete
  37. ^^Random comment is random

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yeah Yeah Yeah, YG artists all live in heaven. SM artists are poor as hell. Yep Yep Yep, real nice

    ...

    ReplyDelete
  39. SM artists are shareholders of company!
    Now with Jang DG, more movie chance!
    siwon is piaget vip guest,
    snsd cf no one can compare;
    only SM nation can! All web least YG news.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh god .. people really did believe that shit about being shareholders and having a better life in sm LOLLLL.
      this is SM you're talking about .. they will give them noting but leftovers .
      but I guess they know people like you are that naive .
      and YG isn't any better .

      Delete
  40. it's people choice to work in entertainment industry. they are lazy people who want easy money and fame.

    but if you ain't got voice, ain't got acting talent.
    you can always prostitute yourself for easy money.

    Pretty face and sexy body is easy to get with $$$$$$

    ReplyDelete
  41. @ Anonymous October 15, 2012 1:19 AM
    but you see, SM does supply good culture.
    good working promotion. so many chances try new things. Where else can get? When Kang( national MC) with them, we will happier, they give us merry show & music. And SM will earn more dividend to share with them. I see they work happy from hearts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't really understand you but any way ..
      SM has extremely exhausting work demands that wouldn't make anyone happy especially if you don't get payed that much .
      but I don't think this will be the case with the drama people or the MC .
      and you really shouldn't love the company that much because your idols are just tolls to make money and are

      Delete
  42. So it looks like if you don't become super famous then you're going to end up being broke all the time, in terrible debt, or even a prostitute O_O. I wouldn't even bother trying to become an idol or an actor unless I was exceptionally talented and/or gorgeous. But even that may not work, so I'd rather take a shot at going to school and pursuing another career.

    Too many young people seem focused on becoming celebrities when the real chances of that happening are quite low. I guess you can still try, but the sacrifices seem too much. At least if you get a quality education and a degree no one can really take that away from you. But if you fail in show business then you'll pretty much be left with nothing :(

    ReplyDelete
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  44. sex salons....prostitution is legal in korea?

    ReplyDelete
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