K-pop’s “Perfect Body” Comes with Big Responsibility

Christy Joshy  – Social Media Editor

What is the “perfect” body? Though this may be a differing opinion for many, in South Korea, the standard is stern. Women are expected to maintain thin, frail-like figures, while men are preferred to be lean and muscular–but not too muscular. 

This rigid ideal is enforced to the extreme in South Korea’s music industry, or K-pop, where idols are put through rigorous exercise routines with little nourishment for their bodies.

To fit the aesthetic of “perfection,” both male and female K-pop stars in South Korea have been reported to have undergone extreme diets. 

However, the idols simply include it as part of their job description and keep persevering. Momo, one of the members of the popular girl-group TWICE, once revealed that during her trainee days, she was forced to lose 7kg in a week. 

She ate nothing for the entire week and worked out intensely at the gym to reach her goal. She ate an ice cube but was afraid she would gain weight. Though she succeeded with an additional three days, she went to bed every night crying herself to sleep, unsure if she would wake up in the morning.

Though this type of regiment is hazardous, the industry compels those in the spotlight to take such drastic measures.

The allure of fame and fortune baits so many young individuals to sell their livelihoods and bodies to companies who don’t honestly care for them. 

Momo’s story is not rare; in fact, multiple groups in the K-pop industry have disclosed the strenuous effort it takes on their part to maintain their look.

Not only do K-pop companies enforce harsh expectations for their idols, but so does society. 

With the hyper-awareness that has resulted from the internet, people worldwide can cyberbully and harass individuals without facing substantial consequences. 

They can freely project their own insecurities and degrade people for the fun of it, regardless of the detrimental effect on the receiver of such comments. This issue is not exclusive to South Korea’s entertainment industry, either. 

American celebrities like Jonah Hill, who has recently lost a considerable amount of weight, have been the butt of jokes for viewers because of their weight, and they are expected to take the unwarranted criticisms.

Though the strict diets and restrictions that many K-pop idols and trainees undergo can have fast results, they are less likely to be sustainable. They can also have life-threatening consequences. 

Deprivation has profound effects, like a weakened immune system and irregular menstruation cycles for women. Food and rest are nourishment and limiting them will not only gravely impact one’s physical health over time but also mental and emotional wellbeing.

South Korea’s entertainment industry is booming, with shows like Squid Game and the popular music group, BTS, breaking international records and gaining immense success. 

With the worldwide fame that K-pop has amassed, its influence is ever-growing. However, with the recognition also comes the responsibility to set healthy examples for the public. 

By showcasing harmful lifestyles and practices, the destructive cycles continue to repeat.

“TWICE” Image courtesy of glamour.com


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