The Late Capitalism of K-Pop

The Late Capitalism of K-Pop


  1. Some corrections on the things I’ve said in the video:

    – The 13-year long contracts have not been legal since 2009. It is now limited to 7 years.
    – I say that Jessica is a member of Girls Generation, but she hasn’t been since 2014.
    – I say that in the 90s, “with the advent of the internet, South Koreans became familiar with American pop culture”. This is inaccurate as South Koreans had access to American culture long before that. What I meant to say was that the liberalization of media and communications technology in the 90s made American culture easier to access, which led to a growth in its popularity.

    In addition, it must be noted that some of the things I mentioned do not apply across the board to all trainee situations, for example, dating is not prohibited to ALL trainees and not all trainees have to pay back the money spent on training. As in any large industry, there are exceptions. There are, of course, also changes happening in the industry, but this video was more of a broad outline of how K-pop developed. Any comments involving news on legal and social developments in the K-pop industry are very welcome.

    Thank you for the views and the comments, I really appreciate it!

  2. I kind of think korea’s pop industry system was inspired by Japan. I first heard of this type of system from Johnny Entertainment, even handshake events reminds me of Japan Idols.

  3. My friend is very into BTS. She went to a concert in the last couple months. She's talked about how the working conditions of kpop folks are awful. And I keep noticing just how much footage there is of them. They're like reality TV stars, except they're only ever allowed to be cute and kind.

    They're beloved by my friend because "they're so soft!" They break gender norms. They talk about mental health. But I can't help but wonder how much of it is carefully calculated.
    They wear expensive clothes that look like cheap clothes. It's all carefully arranged on them. They're supposed to be perfect. It's kind of creepy. Their humanity is taken away; they're simultaneously cute puppies and perfect robots. It's creepy to think of adult people like that.

    My friend idolizes them, but they seem like puppets or dolls. Yeah, they have some subversive material, but is it worth the possibility that these people are being treated like robots and are being abused?

    Who are these people? Are they okay?

    Sometimes I wish I could teleport to them and ask them if they're okay. Do they need a nap? Do they need some food? Do they need a hug from someone who is not incensed by their fame, and who doesn't want anything from them? Do they need to talk to someone who doesn't particularly care what their performances are, or what they look like? Do they need someone in their lives that recognizes them as people?

    Sure, their songs are good, but the songs aren't worth their freedoms and rights.

  4. Companies now also sell ridiculous merch (Bandaids with your idols' faces? Like c'mon). Plus, too many versions for one album. It's too much!

  5. Capitalism; turn everything and everyone into products for sale and transfer profit (built on the suffering of the worker) to the capitalists.

  6. WRT Yellow unions:

    Yeah this is pretty much what unions were like in most fascist states. South Korea having only enacted liberal reforms 30 years ago, this is exactly what you'd expect.

  7. Why, it's almost as if SK weren't a democracy at all! Pretty much the same as NK, except the Capitalism is the despot.

  8. when i first watched this vid, it was full of comments about "that's why we support them so much." and that bothers me because your support funds exploitation — exploitation of young girls, sometimes children as this video highlights. it's one thing to listen to music and like it — it's another to become a "soldier" for this industry. we should want to dismantle abusive systems first, not simply enjoy the product no matter the human cost.

  9. she was like I don't wanna pass my voice but right after, she was like "my light skin tone?" There is an inherent sense of racism in their culture as well.

  10. You're characterizing one of the most successful countries in Asia as some horrendous capitalist hell hole. You are inherently narcissistic in your beliefs. You A think your ideas actually make sense in the real world, B think your ideas wouldn't inflict an absurd amount of suffering. India is what you get when democratic socialism takes hold but you'll never go there.

  11. As a long-time Kpop fan, what I can say this that this is generalized and outdated. Right now, most contracts are more humane than before. And yes, Kpop music is controlled, but that's the point of Kpop. It's experimental. You can only hope to have freedom over your music when you go solo, or when the company sees potential in you. And not all idols are capable to produce their own music. Of course, the companies would prioritize their profit first. And I believe, the idols and many fans are already aware of this. Also, about the physical and mental health of the idols, fans are very much aware and worried, and now have been very vocal about them. But everything is in the company's discretion. JYP has given Twice Mina's a break cos she's suffering from mental issues. What I mean is, today's Kpop isn't as bad as before.

  12. I don't know anything about K-pop, but I found this extremely fascinating and well-thought-out. Excellent work.

  13. The video and the comment section is generally pretty anti-capitalist but as a capitalist, I would like to give my own opinion and take on this

    I would say these horrible problems are due to a LACK of free market

    The reason why the entertainment companies can have such control over the stars and why workers rights are so bad in general is because they're massive monopolies which can afford to restrict union and government efforts to improve worker's rights. As explained in the video, the monopolies dominate the industry making it almost impossible for individuals and smaller companies to compete. By eliminating all competition, the monopolies can reap massive profits which then allow them to bribe the government to turn a blind eye and to grasp the lives of their stars so horribly. This would not be the case in a truly free market capitalist system as then, monopolies can't form as it would be extremely hard to grow to hold such government grasping power as they'll be very occupied with facing competition. And if they do try to do something as inhumane as shown, they would lose many more fans and profit as when there are many competing stars and companies, the fans can easily switch to supporting a competitor. This is not the case in the South Korean model as shown in the video as there are practically only three choices for fans, all of them being inhumane as each other.

    As highlighted in the video, Western pop was much much more individual and the industry was shared by many individual stars and smaller companies
    . This Western form of capitalism does not have nearly the same situation as South Korean capitalism.

    The problem brought up by this video seems to be more reason for individualism and free market. Not collectivization and monopoly.

    I would love for someone to reply and point out any mistakes I made or to rebut my point. I'm completely open to discussion and having my mind changed.


  14. Everything korea does to their citizens, and their rigid culture, contradictions, toxicity and fakeness I loathe. The people need to break away from that slave system…but sadly it's that very system that put Korea in the limelight.

  15. i used to despise pop as a genre, and so everybody involved in it. but now i see they are just our sisters and brothers enslaved in the creepiest way. hold on there, what can i say. our day will come.

  16. 9:34 yes, Ireland is that little northern nation that lives on an island and has a scandinavian flag which looks stunnigly simillar to iceland

  17. Now I really wonder, if NK is destroyed and taken over, would this late stage capitalism situation will be even worse?
    Since some of the freedom seeking North Korean has over fantasy the south as true freedom, and think once south win, we believe we can live better under their rules? While southerner who can't compete with cheaper north would be rejected from current labour market, only worsening the north south split?

  18. Have you read Cloud Atlas?

    If so what do you think of David Mitchell's portrayal of Korea in the city of Nea So Copros under the government of Corpocracy?

  19. Nothing new under the sun. They did stuff like this with Motown. And they certainly do something like this in the US in the last 15-20 years. Ever since Britney. That is why everyone loves the older rock or went to rap. Programmed junk isn't worth it if you know the good stuff.

  20. What's funny is the ballet system works very similar to this upper class rich people always the ballet academies, it's kind of ironic that now that there is more people competing in the music Market than ever before everybody is doing well thank you capitalism😆

  21. Brilliant video, a true eye opener into the seedy uber-capitalist society of south Korea. It really puts what people say about the north into perspective.

  22. Kpop industry: "You have to sacrifice all guarantees of personal freedom, sleep and comfort."

    Military: Am I a joke to you?

  23. I have friends from Korea and were absolutely mind blown when the moved to Australia for university that I had a band and played my own music that people wrote their own songs and decided what we did, put on our own shows and said what we want
    I took one of them to a Bar gig I was playing out there was punk, grunge and metal bands one of my own bands (a sludge metal band) They seriously didn’t even know it was possible or allowed socially or legally to make your own music and perform without a company idol system it legit broke their brain that’s how all encompassing their media machines are

  24. In the grim darkness of the current present, there is only Pop… No, but seriously this sounds like a routine of a 40k Empire of Man citizen or something else out of Hell

  25. Meanwhile the scary dystopian socialist North Korea preserves traditional values and cultures, guards its independence and values the cooperation between different social classes for the greater good.

  26. That's gotta be one of the heaviest and most depressive videos i ever watched. And it's not because i didn't knew that the K-Pop industry is messed up, but because it's way worse than i thought it was.

  27. Hmm.. So Capitalism gets a deserved jab here, but collectivist traditions doesn't? Seriously, does the practices of K-Pop not remind you more of, say, Chinese gymnasts, than it does remind you of practices in other capitalist countries? Feels a bit like the elephant in the room here…

  28. What is the title of the video that was showed in the first slide?? I just want to rewatch it .. THANKSFOR THE FEEDBACKK

  29. It would be really interesting to hear your take on how BTS have succeeded in singlehandedly establishing their label as the current biggest and their interactions with these cultural theories – where they fit in and where they don't! And how the kpop industry as a whole has changed in response. (As well as how BTS themselves have changed to fit into a Western industry.)

  30. There is no dirt to be found anywhere in the K-Pop world. Fruits, vegetables… and people, all originate from a viscous, extruded substrate of pigmented plastic polymers…. every hair…. every eyelash, can be accounted for, every second of every day….. you would think…. by what I've been shown.

  31. It's like they make them into living dolls for our entertainment. I just recently discovered Blackpink which is when I started finding out about all of the darkness behind the scenes, but I remember when Kpop started booming here in the US, and I had friends who become obsessed with the music and Korean pop culture. It makes me wonder if they were aware of what was going on behind the scenes. How can you support the group without supporting that system? Seeing these young girls fainting on stage while old men call them untalented/unattractive is really upsetting.

  32. I started listening to Kpop during my late adolescent years, so I was very aware of the industry and the way they tried to influence fans by creating a specific image for their idols. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the rest of Kpop fans, the way this companies manipulate this kids to make them believe they have a direct relationship with this strangers is disturbing to say the least. This is an essential part of idol culture and it's one the main reasons BTS is so popular. Everything in Kpop is manufactured even the idols personalities and dare I say the relationship between the group members. I admit I still listen to Kpop and in occasions I feel uncomfortable doing so but what can I say, I enjoy the music 😅

  33. The whole system is very similar to how China “cultivate” the athletes to become gold medal winners in Olympic Games.

  34. Perhaps it's due to my interest in things like Critical Race Theory that, during the part of the video where the K-Pop star states that she wouldn't want to pass on her vocal skills to her children, I noticed that her "light skin" is something that she'd like to possibly pass on.
    Now, that may or may not be of any significance. But it did raise my eyebrow.

  35. Communists are not human so it's okay to execute them. In fact, if you see a commie (ANTIFA) it's okay to shoot them, it shouldn't even be a crime.

  36. I always thought it was fishy that so many seemingly well off Korean foreign exchange students try to find permanent residence here in Canada. But this makes sense.

  37. I like K-pop but I don't listen to it because of reasons like this. I morally refuse to until it treats the idols better.


    How Jejdu was massacred for South Corean capital desire to erase communists.

  39. I love how communists act like cultural destabilization is caused by anything other than their deliberate attempts to destabilize culture.

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