What We Can Learn From Produce 48 And How It Negatively Affects K-Pop
After the start of Produce 48, fans and viewers have seen similar recurring situations from previous seasons of Produce 101. There always seems to be the black sheep among the group who is disliked because viewers consider them to be lacking in the criteria for being an idol.
SoHye from the first season of Produce 101 has been mentioned many times whenever the topic of untalented idols from survival programs comes up. And it’s no secret that Yoon JiSung of Wanna One was never exactly a fan favorite as many fans believe him to be the weak link of the group.
But if we take a step back and think about K-Pop groups in general, it’s clear to see that idols who people think have no talent succeeding isn’t something new.
Take Girls’ Generation for example. The girl group is an enormously successful veteran girl group that has a big name value internationally. But despite their status, some of the members are constantly the subject of heavy criticism about having no talent. And some of the most popular ones are usually fan favorites because of their beauty rather than their questionable ability to hold a note or two in tune.
It’s not just Produce 48 but the general process of producing K-Pop groups by South Korean entertainment agencies that viewers should think about. In a way, the industry heavily reflects the values of South Korean society. Many foreigners have repeatedly talked about their experience in the country which speaks about how a person’s looks determine the type of treatment they receive. In short, no matter how much we’d like to deny that there are a handful of idols who are only who they are today because of how they look, it is naive to think so. One of the most important elements of K-Pop is based on a person’s appearance. Sure it may exist in other industries of other cultures as well, but it wouldn’t be too far off to say it is more so in K-Pop.
Politics and favoritism also play a big part in K-Pop as well. There have been rumors saying that producers pushed Yoon JiSung more than other trainees on the second season of Produce 101 because of his affiliation with MMO Entertainment. And since MMO Entertainment is a sub branch of CJ, which runs Produce 101, people were led to suspect that CJ was looking out for their idol.
But the bottom line is that although there are many idols who have the actual talent and qualities of a star, K-Pop is not always about talent. It’s about selling a culture. And the ones who get picked to front the agenda are heavily influenced by the ones controlling the industry.