[kpop] quick thoughts on Dongho quitting U-KISS

From what I’ve gathered, he wants to live a more normal life, one without stalkers, one without a crazy obsession over weight, and one without crazy hours. Life as a kpop idol is hard, far harder than any of us can imagine, especially to those of us who are international fans who do not have as much exposure to their promotional activities.

While I am glad that Dongho has taken such a public step out, I am still unsatisfied. Has Dongho spoken up against the kpop idol system? No. His statement on wanting to leave the group was mostly focused on him– he feared his health wasn’t up to par, and thus, this implies that it was no fault of the company’s. That claim I find hard to believe, because secondhand evidence seems to point otherwise on how lowly these idols are treated. Moreover, these scandals and quittings are happening all over the place, most notably with ex-Super Junior member Hangeng, JYJ and KARA’s Nicole.

Yet has there been any substantial change in the kpop industry? No. Granted, SM has rewritten their idol contracts after JYJ, but from the rumors, it was just a mechanical reaction to ‘save face’, as were most other reactions by idol agencies. Idols are still being shunted from schedule to schedule, fed poorly, going on unreasonable diets, and forced to have plastic surgery that is neither needed or even wanted by the idols. It breaks my heart to know that Onew lost a few kg for Everybody comeback, because whenever he talks about weight loss, he always tries to smile, but it always seems so sad. As the recent Vice article on Busker, Busker shows, the contract is still very much a slave contract.

Fans for the most part are ignorant or ignore this and as do idols, scared that their jobs will go away, heavily influenced by the Korea’s overwork culture, and daunted by the terms of their contract. Nonetheless, fans cannot be the catalyst of change for this, and only kpop idols can ultimately provide the final push for better working conditions for themselves and their colleagues; they are the only ones that know what is really going on. I just hope that one day there will be a whistleblower confident enough to come forth, and spill so much blood on the rug that it is impossible to hide or clean.

Dongho, have a good rest, and I wish you all the best.


6 thoughts on “[kpop] quick thoughts on Dongho quitting U-KISS

  1. Sometimes, I feel so sorry for idols. They have to put on a facade that they are living a good life while they are suffering; physically and emotionally. Their schedules are always hectic. My jaw literally dropped when I saw Key’s schedules this time round; juggling everybody promotions and his musical. I keep thinking ‘Does he even get sleep?’ I highly doubt he does.

    Weightloss in kpop makes me feel very unsettled and they always seemed so drastic too. Onew’s pronounced cheek bones makes me want to drag him to a chicken place…


    • I’m really grateful that fans send them lunches when they’re recording and doing variety shows. :) At least then, we know they’re eating a balanced diet.


  2. It’s so sad that the idols are being treated this way. It’s their talents who bring in all the money, so why not give them a healthy life in return?

    • I think it’s partially due to how idols make money in Korea. They don’t make much money from the music itself, more from promoting themselves and doing CFs and concerts and whatnot, so the more they physically, the more money they bring in. It’s really difficult to balance, sadly!


  3. Even though I’m not a huge fan of U-Kiss it saddens me to hear this. It is difficult – it would have been nice for him to say more, but to what extent is that his responsibility, if at all? The collective ignorance and inaction toward the mistreatment of idols is a sorrowful subject and you write about it well in this post. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to do so!

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