The world was shaken when the news of Korean pop star Kim Jonghyun had committed suicide. He died after a long struggle with depression. The 27-year-old singer wrote in his farewell letter; “I am broken from inside, the depression that had been slowly eating me up finally devoured me and I couldn’t defeat it”. In fact, his cries of help were not taken seriously by those surrounding him, but even the best psychologists in the country ignored his symptoms. The lead singer of popular boy band SHINee wrote that his doctor blamed his personality for not being able to cope with his depression.
People have the false assumption that celebrities live a perfect life. However, that is far from the truth. South- Korean agencies are frequently getting lawsuits filed against them by many celebrities for neglecting the basic human rights of their employees. As a matter of fact, these agencies recruit children as young as 10 years old to be trainees. Trainees are forced to work for at least 10 years. These trainees are subjected to extreme pressure to be able to achieve perfection and thrive once they debut. They are exposed to a hunger-games-esque work environment, because only the strongest ones survive and the rest are discarded to the side.
In addition, during their training years and their famous life, these artists have to practice up to 18 hours of dancing and singing. They are forced to train with few hours of sleep. They are not allowed to have any kind of freedom, including relationships. The agencies do not pay any artists before they debut, therefore many people are slaves of these agencies for years if they do not make the cut. They can be fired from the agencies. Celebrities in South-Korea are poorly paid. For example, PSY, singer of Gangnam Style, made three million dollars in the United-States but he only made 26,000 dollars back in his home country.
From falling on stage due to intense fatigue and malnutrition, Korean celebrities become depressed and turn toward to suicide. In Jonghyun’s case, his smiling face and flawless performances were appreciated by many fans. However, some fans take their celebrity crush to a very unhealthy obsession. These fans are called ‘’sasaeng’’ in South Korean culture. These people go to extreme lengths to constantly stalk celebrities. They invade the artists’ private life to be noticed by that person. From hiding in corners to following idols around, these fans are capable of so much that it is terrifying.
Written by: Ramandeep Kaur Nagra