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Social Media Storm Erupts Over North Korea's Claims of BTS and BLACKPINK as 'Slaves'

As South Korea marked the Lunar New Year, or Seollal, an old article from a North Korean media outlet resurfaced on February 10, causing a stir on social media. Originally published in 2021, the report openly criticized the treatment of South Korean idol groups like BTS and BLACKPINK . The resurgence of these reports drew considerable interest from Korean internet users, shedding light on the purportedly stringent conditions imposed by prominent South Korean entertainment companies.

Old report of North Korea surfaces criticising the K-pop labels
“They are criticized for being treated like slaves, with their bodies, minds, and souls taken away by the vicious and corrupt presidents of these major entertainment corporations.” In the resurfaced 2021 report featured on The Qooforum, the comparison drawn between the treatment of idols and "slavery" underscores the significant power wielded by entertainment executives over these youthful artists.

Following a viral online forum post, the report has attracted widespread attention beyond Korea. It underscores that idols are ensnared in exclusive contracts from an early age, resulting in their detachment from the wider society. Additionally, the report mentions the scrutiny of Western media, which has also shed light on the hardships experienced by these idols.

“Not only South Korean media but also Western media have reported that South Korea’s young singers are tied to unbelievably unfair contracts from a young age, spending their lives confined to training camps.”

Mentioning the global K-pop phenomenon like BTS and BLACKPINK in their report, they said, “Many teenage singers, including BTS and BLACKPINK, are being trained to become pop singers at a young age from elementary and middle school by signing exclusive contracts with SM Entertainment and other big corporates."

The recent report has sparked significant concern amid the booming rise of the K-pop industry worldwide. Fans and observers are expressing dismay, highlighting the remarkable accomplishments of BTS and BLACKPINK. These pioneering groups have not only achieved immense success themselves but have also paved the way for other K-pop acts to flourish in Western markets. In light of such achievements, many argue that the harsh practices outlined in the report appear incongruous and out of step with the industry's progress.

In line with the article's findings, idols and trainees undergo rigorous training regimens, often reducing their nightly sleep to just two to three hours, isolating them from external influences, and allocating a significant portion of their earnings towards training expenses.

Netizens react
To numerous individuals, these sensational allegations are viewed skeptically, often considered as mere efforts to disparage South Korea's thriving idol culture and widespread popularity, frequently brushed off as propaganda pieces.

A user wrote, “Yeah maybe the kpop system is kinda broken, but I think NK isn't allowed to comment on that. Their system is more slavery than the kpop industry ever could.”, others joined in, “No one cares what they say anws”, “So BTS and Blackpink have a nation-level hater”, “What kind of slave earns hundreds and billions of dollars?", "Well, if they are the slaves, I want to be a slave too lmao", "BTS and BLACKPINK must be also well known in North Korea lol.”

(With AI Inputs)

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