Remember back in 2012 when Gangnam style was the biggest trend of the year? Everybody across the world would sing along to the catchy song. “Oppa Gangnam Style!” they would sing with joy and enthusiasm while rocking some of the iconic dance moves.
The iconic song is part of a huge plethora of songs called K-pop. K-pop is the short form of Korean Pop. The term Korean Pop is more than pop music that happens to originate from Korea, right now it has become an umbrella term for all music produced in South Korea. Ballads, rock and even jazzy tunes would still come under K-pop. So now you have a bit of understanding about what k-pop means, let’s look at what you should know about it.
K-pop is hugely different to American Pop. The two are worlds apart. While American pop involves singers and band signed under record labels, in K-pop they are signed under agencies or production companies. These companies would manage the artist’s schedule, music production, promotion and, etc., while paying the artist a salary.
Until now things seem peachy, doesn’t it? However this is not so, a K-pop idol’s life is one that is difficult to say the least. It starts straight off the bat from when they are trainees.
Production companies recruit people as young as eleven to be a part of the trainee system. Here the person is given training in vocal development, dance, acting, variety and even on behaviour as a k-pop idol. They learn everything they possibly can that would help them in their career. Depending on their ability, trainees can get stuck within the training system for as much as seven years. This means only the truly resilient will stay and have a chance at debut. The amount of stress a trainee goes through is just too much. They have to undergo so much of training and are expected to look beautiful. They generally do not get to meet their family often and have to stay in a dorm with other trainees of the same gender. The facilities available in the dorm depend on the wealth of the production company. if the trainee happens to belong to one of the big three companies; SM, YG and JYP entertainment, they would have a better dorm, if they happen to belong to a small or lesser earning company such as NH entertainment or Top Media wouldn’t have the same privileges.
After the debut the artists have to capture their fan base through promotions at music shows, variety shows and concerts, etc. if they manage to have a strong fan base, things are going to go pretty well for them; higher income and opportunities would come to their door step. However due to the market being very saturated with at least fifty groups debuting in a year, it isn’t always possible to capture a strong fan base. Only a select few do. This means after some time bands that unable to gain popularity would disband and idols would have to go back and wait for their company to debut them again.
The life of a k-pop trainee is one filled with hard work, pressure, uncertainty and determination. If they can stay strong and keep on trying, they can make it in the industry and produce the music they love.