The South Korean Entertainment Industry Needs To Either Shape Up Or Ship Out

Jang Ja-yeon, Jong-hyun, Sulli… They represent just a small fraction of the Korean celebrities who could not endure the mental and physical abuse that happens every single day in this cut-throat industry. We see them as singers and performers, but to their agencies, they are simply Barbie dolls and Ken toys to be used whenever, wherever and however higher management pleases. In exchange for financial gains – which rarely materialise anyway resulting in news headlines and legal battles – these young girls and young boys unwittingly sign away their freedom, their rights as human beings. Of course, the general public is at fault too, the fans content simply to wave their glow sticks in front of marionette-like dancers, the anti-fans more than happy to post detestable and harmful comments about them on social media.

Fortunately, not everyone is like that. Many have spoken against these great injustices, bringing awareness to them and even starting various petitions. Also, where human justice has failed, technological justice has taken over. Recently, we have seen the fall of many big companies and their CEOs, who were beaten at their own game. The technology that they used to ensnare and crush others – insidious things like spy cameras set in private rooms – now serve as damning evidence against them.

To come full circle, I strongly believe that the South Korean entertainment industry needs to either shape up or ship out. Make no mistake: I absolutely adore Kdrama and Kpop. I went through some bad things myself, and they helped me overcome my depression. Nevertheless, if they are also responsible for the destruction of so many innocent souls, then I am better off without them. We all are.
A change is in order, and I hope I am not the only one who wants one. We should all send out a united message, asking that those in the entertainment industry be treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. These artists have always shown us the best version of themselves, in an honest effort to put a smile on our face.
Now it is our turn to do the same for them.


Short disclaimer: The entire post is my sole opinion on the matter. As such, everyone is allowed to agree or disagree with it, but maybe we can at least agree this is indeed a terrible situation.


@angelight313_168 I didn’t know what else to do after the recent events, so I had to write this…


@piranna I thought maybe you wanted to read this… Just to make sense or something…


And this is the sort of nonsense that needs to be addressed:

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Sad to hear the news.
I fear the industry won’t change without a push to change (new law but the economy depends on this industry, lobby or… financial loss that could come only from the consumers = fans? Are there other ways to make the system change?).

Maybe I’m pessimist here or realist.

I think, yeah, they sold their freedom vs celebrity.
Or life vs celebrity.

They should be allowed to go to foreign countries to have some peace and get help that is from the state or doctors or psychologists because a star is confronted to mass bullying and stress.
As a star, I don’t know if they can not read social media. They use it a lot and they must read a lot of negative comments every second. Or for themselves, limit it.

(Be careful though, I read some ppl are creating false videos of her suicide on Twitter to make people click on fraudulent websites to infect computers with virus.)


I have no doubt that the international entertainment industry - and not only the Korean one- is the most cruel in the world.
It wouldn’t operate thought the way it does on all levels, if the artists who are on the front of this industry had some self respect.
It is a fact that the producers and the agents do mistreat their artists but they are able to do this because the artists that work for them allow this to happen, perhaps because they hope that someday they might become famous and powerful enough for not allowing anyone to mistreat them.
The latter though is something that rarely happens, because the most powerful persons in this industry are those who invest their money into it. Those who pay for the productions. Someone doesn’t have to be in the entertainment industry to know that.
The Big Boss is the one who pays. And this person is the one that has always the last word.

Now does anyone know why all these mistreated artists remain in that industry though they are abused systematically and continuously no matter how long they work for it? ( this is a literal question).

My opinion is that the South Korean entertainment industry will never shape up it self, neither going to ship out. The artists who made this industry that big, need to take action and shape it up as it should be. A first step in order to achieve this is to quit instead of becoming suicidal.
If our well being is in danger then there is nothing wrong on quitting. There are other things that talented people can do, but only in those industries that will respect them as human beings and professionals.


She was doing so well too, co-hosting her own show, doing commercials, and even appearing in a new drama. After a long hiatus, she was finally on her way to the top. So why do this? Of course, it doesn’t matter anymore. She’s gone now… Her bright smile, her fearless spirit…
Yes, they have proposed a new bill. Maybe others will be spared from online hate:

Yes, I absolutely agree, a change is needed. Too much is expected from these idols, forgetting that they are also young people who wish to live like human beings, not robots.

Thank you for the heads up. I mostly use Viki’s own news site,

Sadly, you’re right. But it’s only because they’re desperate to succeed in life, to become recognised artists and performers. On a personal level, I could never do it. I, too, was told to “suck it up,” but as you’ve said, it rarely happens to reach a high-level position and change things. Even if you do, chances are you’ve already sold your soul by then.

15 at least since 2008, I also stand up about this, these"kids" do this to entertain us and it gets to this, someone needs to definately stop. the young lady just starting out! I am upset more cause I just finished watching her in a drama! just starting out. my oh my!
I don’t know, but I have decided to pray for those people and the young actors too! and the families, devistated! like that lady said, yeah I jokingly have said I adopted them, my children so to speak, that really hurts, my child, and no one saw fit to help her before this happened.

wonder if we should quit watching any of these dramas? naw… boycott? write letters to ??? a list of names & send to??? would it do any good??


You should read some of the comments on social media. Some are nice, sure, but others… Oh boy, maybe you shouldn’t read them. My point is that everyone is insulted online and offline, celebrity or not. Where I live, we have a saying, “Horses don’t drop dead just because the dogs are barking at them.” You brush it off, and you move on.

Sulli, however, was a troubled young lady. The fame didn’t really suit her. She never wanted to be an idol. Also, South Korea has this nasty idol culture. You can’t date. You can’t be outspoken about things. You just need to smile and pretend everything is all roses. Sulli was a free spirit, though. She dated, Yes. She spoke about things, Yes. She didn’t want to be some plastic doll. The so-called fans didn’t like that, so they came down on her. And just like you said, her agency, SM Entertainment, didn’t do anything when this happened. I want to point out that SM Entertainment is also responsible for the death of Jong-hyun. They sent him to a phoney doctor who claimed his depression wasn’t a real thing. Seriously?! That doctor needs to stand trial!!

In the case of these young people, I personally believe it’s more than just some hate comments. It’s an entire web of lies and ruses that these big companies weave out to ensnare and ultimately profit from them. Again, just like you said.


Thank you for keeping them in your prayers. Already so many innocent lives have been lost. Yes, I think we need to talk and write about these issues, constantly. A new bill has just been proposed in S. Korea concerning hate comments. We should share the news in hopes that it passes.
Also, these big companies need to be held accountable for the mistreatment of their artists. Furthermore, the “idol culture” needs to go away already. Young people should be allowed to date and live freely, not just work 24/7 like animals… Worse than animals. My two cats sleep on the bed, and they don’t like to be disturbed unless it’s lunchtime.



OMG I didn’t know that part about that young man Jong Hyun. I thought his family brought him to that d**n Doctor. I was so angry when I read the things he told him during the sessions, so sad… I fear more shocking suicides will continue to happen bc I saw 2 girls that have the same ‘‘lost soul look’’ sulli had lately. I pray that I’m wrong.

I still can’t believe she’s gone. I guess prayers lately are just going into a bottomless pit.


If fame didn’t really suit her then she should have chosen some other profession. My point is that no one can become an idol out of the blue. Most of these idol artists start from a very young age and work very hard their way to the top.
They withstand the long training, the abuse of those who train them, the long working hours, the absence of personal life, all these things with the aim to become famous and rich idols.

I’m not trying to defend her agency here, but on the other hand we can’t blame the whole industry for the choices of each individual.

If being famous and living a life exposed to the public admiration or/and criticism is not your thing, then you should not get involved with this profession. Or if you get involved and you don’t like it, then you should have the guts either to not give a damn for the public opinion or be strong enough to change it.

I’m saying that because I had the opportunity to experience first hand what is the character of the majority of those who get involved in entertainment industry. Most of these people have huge egos and survival instincts and they are ambitious to their bones. They can kill their parents in order to become famous, there is nothing and no one that can become an obstacle to their way. They wouldn’t be able to reach the top if they were not like this, but most of those who get into this industry and they become at some point famous ARE like this. The cute actresses and the handsome actors are the sort of persons that we wouldn’t like to approach us in ten miles distance.
The only others who can approach them are the agencies that are consistent by people with similar attitude.


When I first found out about what happened, I was suspecting murder framed as suicide. Her death seemed too out of the blue. I didn’t know Sulli until I read about the terrible comments people were posting about her. With her appearance on Night of Hate Comments, I thought she might have had some more strength than before, but I didn’t watch her on the show so I can’t say. This is only speculation. Nonetheless, I am still hurt after reading the news about her death. I wish, I wish people would take some time and think about what they are posting. Would they like someone else to post horrible things about them? Or say them to their face? I don’t think so. Just because there is freedom of speech doesn’t mean all types of speech is socially and morally allowed. People are not exempted from the consequences of their speech, so I hope that those people who posted those horrid comments realize that their words that took 10 seconds to type hurt someone to the point of suicide. That guilt will lay on them for their entire lifetime.

Humans are social beings–we crave attention and acceptance from people. This is why mean comments hurt so much. However, I wish she didn’t take the comments too seriously. Why should she give the evilsayers the satisfaction of doing what they wished and leaving this earth? A line from a kdrama I watched said that we meet enemies in life, and we can’t do anything [to make them like us]. Some people are just going to dislike someone for no particular reason. I wish Sulli didn’t take that to heart. Seriously, someone should have taken her away from all of the mania and let her recover in peace.


There’s a third option.
My son, who has nothing to do with k-pop or k-drama, said this: “If they cannot withstand the pressure and they’re so miserable doing this, why don’t they quit?”

Yes. If you don’t like it, quit the industry to do something else with your life. You’d have enough money saved by then to afford learning new skills or opening a company or a boutique or something like that. Surely it would be very successful with the previous fans for enough time to get it going.

But show business people are probably addicted to fame as well and they would take it as failure if they quit, after all the years of hard work they invested on it.
On the other hand, wise people know when to cut their losses and change direction. It’s one of the life skills.
But when did those young people, who only focused on training and their physical appearance since their teens, learn life skills? They didn’t have the chance to, which is surely sad.


In some comments was written that some idols took antidepressiva pills so that might lead to their suicide as well (that’s also happening to non celebs, certain pills increase the risk for suicide and these pills are often given to people with mental health issues that already include instability).

As I know the Korean celebs aren’t allowed to drink or take drugs otherwise some may die by that instead of suicide. There are always some celebs who don’t get old and some of them were unique and much talented in their field (e.g Amy Winehouse, AVICII etc.)


I don’t understand why they even make a show like “Night of hate comments” that only spotlights those who are bullying others so some may think that is a great way to get anonymous fame if own hate comments are celebrated like that.

PS 2:

The Korean celebs could also hire an assistant who reads and replies and sort comments on social media. Many Western celebs/public persons do that.


I agree and that is what I said in my very first post. Those who can’t stand it, then the best thing they have to do is to quit.
Acting is, at the end of the day, a job like any other job.

I had a celebrity boyfriend at some point that he was moaning continuously about the hard time he had as a celebrity. ( yeap… sure) But though he could switch at any given time to any other related with the entertainment business job easily, as he was well educated and he had an impressive CV, he just didn’t.

As for his character. It was a charm to watch him and a hell to live with him. On the outside he was full of appearance and in the inside in a complete and utter disappearance.
Finally I was the one who abandoned him because I got fed up with his ups and down, his huge ego and ambition. Through him I met other celebrities who had all of them the same attitude. ( with slight variations!)
After this experience I can’t feel really sorry for any of the people that work in this industry. Almost all of them without any significant exceptions are not what the rest of us we could call “normal people”. They are not normal and that is the reason why they work in this particular job.
Whatever we, the viewers see in their exterior is just a facade. It is not a coincidence that the trademark of this profession is this one


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I couldn’t agree more. It’s so important to be kind and forgiving with each other, both online and offline. Also, Yes, I also wish someone had taken her away from all the craziness, to a safe place where she could properly heal.

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It did. At the end of each episode, everyone also had the chance to read genuinely good and positive comments about themselves. Please watch the first episode @53:08
This is why I never suspected anything, simply enjoying the show for what it was.

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