This one KBS show recently did a special feature about idol trainee auditions, and what the real deal is behind closed doors.
One trainee was found stating, “Even I knew that I wasn’t able to show off my full potential during my condition, but they gave me a positive review. But after I passed the audition, they demanded that I pay $2,700 USD.”
The trainee was also asked to call the director of her agency without alerting him that he was being recorded. When asked about the contract fee she was forced to pay, he replied, “There are no agencies these days that support you financially 100%. Since we do support you 100%, don’t leave us. Even if you say that we forced you to provide sexual favors, you really have nothing to say in the end.”
Another trainee hoping to become an actress later gave her own account, revealing, “The agency said they were looking for a small role and wanted to meet me in person. They instead dragged me to their home and force fed me various drinks, claiming that they needed to check my limit. After a while, they taped my mouth shut so that I couldn’t scream, and further claimed that in order to become a celebrity, I needed to have sex with him.”
What was even more shocking for viewers was that this all happened before she entered her third year of junior high school. (credit: allkpop)
This isn’t at all surprising, but it’s nevertheless disturbing. Issues like this keep coming up again and again, and I continue to wonder if anything is even being done about this.
The comments of this particular article brings to light a few good points.
Everyone’s saying only small sketchy companies would do such a thing, but in reality it’s the big companies that have the power. If someone said she was abused by the CEO of a huge company, do you think anyone would believe her? They’d say “no, you’re just bitter about being rejected”. Just look at the replies on this article, no one wants to believe their favorite companies are anything but beautiful and loving.
Everyone’s not saying that only the small sketchy companies would do this, and yeah, the big companies have power. Most are saying that smaller companies would do this because they’re mostly unknown companies, therefore it would be easier for them to get away with it. I, for one, think it’s unlikely something like this would happen in SME because of the age that SM takes in trainees, same for YGE, and JYPE. Also, the way the auditions are conducted in all three companies. SME, JYPE, and YGE aren’t the only big companies, but they are the three major companies in SK at the moment. We just think it’s unlikely they’d do something like that. I’m not saying a trainee hasn’t been subjected to that kind of treatment before and that it won’t happen in the future.
Watchdogs need to delve deeper into this issue, especially into the cases of the more popular agencies. It would be naive to say that the bigger names are completely immune from scandals like this, and I’m quite certain even today’s popular idols have gone through situations like this.
There’s another comment I kinda wanna address:
It’s sad that this happens almost everywhere. Here’s something that E.H.P posted in a forum topic, and it’s something I agree with about the Big 3:
“Okay, so if you’re from the U.S., I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “casting couch”? Well if you haven’t, it means trading sexual favors for a career advancement. This is prevalent in Hollywood. Gwyneth Paltrow and Lisa Rinna have spoken about the Hollywood tradition of sex-for-roles. A lot of other celebrities have mentioned it in their memoirs or interviews. It happens ALL the time.
BUT does that mean you can automatically assume that happens in DISNEY auditions?? No, you can’t. When people who don’t really know Korea make the assumption that SNSD must have had sex for their careers, to me, it’s the same thing as non-Americans making the assumption that Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, etc must have had sex for their careers.
Seohyun, Jessica, Hyoyeon, Yoona, Yuri, and BoA got casted when they were in Elementary School. Sulli, Taeyeon, and Luna and got casted at a really young age, too. I’m not sure the people who held the auditions told the young girls, “You’re going to be accepted as trainees into S.M., but you have to promise to have sex with us when you turn 15.” You can see youtube videos of Yoona, Yuri, and Seohyun goofing around as elementary school kid trainees in the SM practice rooms, even talking to SuJu and DBSK members. I don’t think they were sexually traumatized elementary school kids.
Also, in large companies like SM, JYP, YG, auditions are recorded. And they have to pass the judgment of a whole PANEL of judges, some of which are FEMALE. So, it’s kind of hard to have sex with all of them in exchange for acceptance into the company.
There are so many reasons why it’s HIGHLY unlikely that female trainees didn’t have sex in order to debut. These are just a few.”
I’m not saying that SM, JYP, and YG haven’t had someone in the company do that, but I still think it’s pretty unlikely.
You cannot make assumptions from what you see on TV. Broadcasting agencies themselves have underground alliances with various entertainment companies (seriously, you shouldn’t even BEGIN to underestimate the financial and manipulative power of these bodies), and of course they’re not going to publicly release anything that would cause the slightest blow to these labels’ reputations. Auditions are recorded, yes, but where’s the proof that the dialogue (and representatives) in those recordings are legit? Again, money is power. When you are rich and influential, anything can be dreamt up and made possible.
And of course, idols who were sexually traumatized are not going to make it obvious when there are cameras around.
Here’s another comment that sums up everything else I wish to say:
It is very sad and unfortunate that situations like these happen all the time in so many industries but it is even more upsetting when you know the lengths of how far the industry will go to cover up the truth in order to maintain a healthy image toward the public. Young teenagers and children in the entertainment and modeling industry are always targeted and victimized because of their vulnerability and it would be nice if the government could do something about it. However, companies always hold the advantage in terms of money, influence, slander, and black mail in an attempt to discredit the victim. Also, victims are often too ashamed or frightened to reveal the truth due to fear of persecution and the possibility that no one is willing to believe them…
And to end, I agree with what other commenters have brought up: reveal the names of these companies already. So many young kids are aspiring to enter the entertainment industry more than ever, and there needs to be some kind of certified, public informant steering them in the right directions (like a UNION, maybe?!?!)
But of course, all these things are waaaay easier said than done. Ugh, this industry needs a serious cleanse. Fast.