K-Pop 101 - Employee of The Month

If you think about starting a band here in the West, you will meet some of your talented friends, make a song, sing to a group of people, refine it, record a demo and then try your luck in one or more labels, until one accept you.

If you are a Korean, you will basically confront your parents in 90% of the cases, try to audition for an agency, if you are accepted and become what they call a 'trainee', you’ll have to conciliate 10-15 hours of daily study, with vocal training, exercise routine, dancing lessons, acting lessons, drastic diets, sometimes plastic surgery, among others.

And believe me they rarely drop out of school, generally continue studying is the agreement they make with their parents who did not want them to follow the path of fame to begin with.
So they train for 2-7 years until they can be judged capable or not. If you survived the trainee period and excelled in one or more areas and fits the profile they want, to create a new group, you are put together with other trainees you barely know and you didn’t choose, they’ll give you a concept you haven’t chosen, you’ll wear clothes that you didn’t choose, a song that you didn’t choose and you enter on the market, the so dreamed Debut.
I know it sounds brutal, but not all agencies are so terrible, not every case is so bad, but it is always very demanding and intense. They seek and deliver excellence and excellence is what makes the K-Pop so unique, is inserted in a completely different culture to which we are not accustomed.

I was never the type to pay attention to what was the label responsible for this band that I liked, or whether there was a huge difference between them, until I get into the K-Pop world. In Asia, each agency carries a certain characteristic that leaves no doubt who it belongs such a group/music.

If you think of Western labels, you basically think 'oh those responsible for recording the CDs by my favorite band'. Well, in K-POP the thing is much more complicated than that. It is clear that the Western record labels exert some power over the artist's style and songs and their images on stage, but the Oriental labels, on the other hand, control EVERYTHING. What will you wear, eat, where to sleep, when to sleep when you’re going to date, which song you’ll sing, who will sing. Asian record labels are like our parents, except for the fact that their benefit comes way before ours.

Every fan has a love-hate relationship with a label (called Record Label and Entertainment Agency in most cases), because of a simple delay in the release of a song, the negligence in producing a Music Video, the lack of creative freedom, the split of your favorite band or even abuse and human rights violations.


When I stop to think about it, looks like k-pop fans are like the audience of the great fights of the gladiators, or viewers of public executions in the Middle Ages. But of course it is not always like this, and if they were only problems, there wouldn’t be so many people wanting to enter the industry. With the worldwide popularization of k-pop the treatment of these k-idols greatly improved.

On one hand you want to put these artists under your wings and protect them from the record labels, on the other hand you want to hug that one CEO (chief of the company's bigwig, the powerful boss) responsible for gathering and managing that group you love. For that amazing Music Video, the breathtaking choreography and for having chosen this particular song as a single.

Are the two sides of the coin. The dark side and the beauty of the k-pop. If in one hand is absolutely difficult and sometimes cruel, in the other is a choice and shows just how much these people want to make their dreams come true and how much they are willing to go beyond their own limits to achieve.

The group Sunny Hill with "Midnight Circus" tells how it is to be part of the industry and how you are forgotten when not following the rules.

And this is the house that G-Dragon, leader of BigBang gave to his parents, showing that not everything is so cruel ^^''.


Next week we talked about the South Korean major labels and their 'trademarks'!

Bear Hug
Dryka B.


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Dryelli, 24 anos, Maringá, PR