The last couple weeks have been pretty miserable for most of the Soompi team. We pretty much had everyone on the team get sick with something or another. You name it, someone on the team probably caught it. A few of us are still a bit sick but we shall persevere. But this got me thinking, what about idols? They seem to get sick quite a bit and yet I don’t think it’s discussed enough. So for this week I’m going to once again remind everyone that idols are not superheroes immune to the strife that us mere mortals have to face.
Very Important Disclaimer Stuff: The writer is not really an expert at anything much and is just a mere casual fan of pretty much everything. The writer has been known to be rather weird and cynical at times. The writer’s opinions certainly DO NOT reflect the opinion of Soompi’s news team or Soompi as a whole. Trust me, the rest of the team is quite normal.
Would you like a serving of exhaustion with that popularity?
I’m sure we can all mostly agree that the work of an idol/celebrity is rather grueling. We can also agree that there has been a few(?) celebrity related health scares over the past couple years. The most recent one would be Girls Day’s Hyeri collapsing on stage. We also had Kara’s Goo Hara collapse in Japan, FT Island’s Hong Ki admitted to hospital for stomach problems, Kim Nam Gil admitted to hospital for exhaustion and many, many, many, many more. This is not including the numerous articles that we didn’t end up covering and the numerous other cases that weren’t even reported to begin with. Suffice to say, health issues seem to be part and parcel of celebrity life.
Why that is the case is fairly easy to explain. Here is an old article about Girls Generation’s schedule. One day they are in Taiwan, the next day they are all the way in France before then circumnavigating through Japan just a couple days later. In just the space of three days, they’ve been on the plane for over 30 hours plus numerous hours either in a van or bus once they are on the ground. Don’t forget this is just for Girls’ Generation, things aren’t much better for most other celebrities. Lets also not forget about the other issues like heavy dieting, sleep deficiencies, long travel times and heightened stress levels from having to put on a public facing image for more than 20 hours a day. Worst of all, the industry has seem to got to a point where this is considered “normal” rather than completely and utterly unreasonable.
This is not to say that there isn’t other industries with such harsh working conditions. The above could easily apply to doctors, tradesmen, scientists, and even us, writers. [Editor’s note: HA HA HA HA HA HA no.] I think some of the issues with addressing celebrity working conditions stems from a belief that celebrity work is more “interesting,” ‘posh,” “fun” than something like a mining engineer. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I’ve seen my fair share of “As if they would get exhausted having fun and dancing for a job.” The reasoning is obviously completely one-dimensional, it’s like telling an animal carer that the have an easy job because all they do is look after baby rabbits.
But what exactly can be done to improve working conditions for an industry that seems to pride itself on 20+ hour working days and that showing signs of a weakness is doing their fans injustice. Frankly, I’m not quite sure. Japan, I believe, has a system for underage celebrities where they are not allowed to work after a certain hour of the day. It’s a clause that cause Kara’s Kang Ji Young some issues during their Japanese activities. Could a system like this be expanded to include everyone? Most likely not, because there is always going to be some sort of valid reason for doing activities late at night.
The other “easy” solution would just be to reduce the schedule load for celebrities. It’s not uncommon to see idols doing 4~5 schedules a day with around 4 hours travel time. If even one of those schedules is a TV recording, then you can expect that schedule to be at minimum 3 hours long but usually more like 5. The motive behind doing such a large amount of schedules per day just comes down to the fact that being a celebrity is an extremely unstable job. You could be busy one month and then completely jobless the next. There is a Korean saying that literally amounts to “Row as fast as you can while the tide is in.” Essentially it’s saying you should do as much as possible while the opportunity is present. This is pretty much the motto for the whole entertainment industry.
Probably time to try and conclude this line of thought. The issue with trying to suggest a solution to a problem like this is that it’s an issue that is so ingrained into the core of the industry. The industry currently depends on the knowledge that celebrities can and will work under these conditions. We regularly hear about drama recording being run to the wire with actors barely sleeping to keep up with the schedule and yet nothing ever seems to be done about it. You can’t help but wonder how long this is going to be sustainable for.
*Lordbordem is the writer that now prefers penguins over koalas since the former don’t drop down from trees. Free from the perils of Koala warfare, he can now continue to write articles on Soompi without fearing for his life.