Sera, Soyeon, Soyul, And Gayoung Open Up About Idol Life, Mental Health, And More On “Miss Back” Premiere
On the premiere of the MBN variety show “Miss Back,” former idols spoke about their experiences and their current lives.
“Miss Back” is a mix of a documentary and variety show, and it follows a group of “forgotten” female singers who are hoping for a second chance at success. Leading the show is singer Baek Ji Young, who is the singers’ producer and life mentor.
Over three months, the show met with 200 individuals to determine who would join the cast. The premiere featured the first filming of the eight idols who were selected: Gayoung from STELLAR, Nada from Wassup, Raina from After School, Sera from 9MUSES, Soyeon from T-ara, Soyul from Crayon Pop, Subin (Dalsooobin) from Dal Shabet, and Jung Yujin from The Ark. They all gathered together and caught up, with many of the idols expressing surprise to see each other on the show.
The cast members had the chance to talk about their experiences as idols in personal interviews, with the first episode highlighting the stories of Sera, Soyul, and Gayoung.
Former 9MUSES member Sera was up first, and she began, “We filmed a documentary before our debut. It showed a scene where our boss slapped me in the face with rolled-up paper. Even after I left the group, that clip followed me for a long time.”
“Things have changed a lot now, but back then we had to do everything we were told,” she said. “We were wearing garter belts for our first broadcast. It was the first time I’d ever even heard of garter belts.”
“I couldn’t stop crying in the washroom,” Sera continued. “I couldn’t stop crying after seeing myself and the girls who were high school students wearing that. After an hour, I went out and filmed for 10 minutes and then went back in. Afterward, I was fired [as leader].”
When asked about how she paid for her living expenses, Sera answered, “Bank loans.” She went on to say, “Everyone experiences difficult things in their life, but last year I developed a panic disorder. I’m taking medication for a panic disorder and depression now too.”
Sera said, “There are 60 to 70 girl groups who debut each year, but only 1 percent of them survive into the next year.” Sera uses her YouTube channel in order to promote junior groups.
In footage from her home, Sera finished filming a YouTube video and then bent over her desk with her head in her arms, saying “It’s okay” to herself and then crying. Watching the video, Baek Ji Young was brought to tears. Sera also received counseling from a psychiatrist.
In the studio, Soyeon related to Sera’s story. She said, “As a woman, you can become emotionally wounded while being in a girl group and working in the entertainment industry. My story is also similar.”
“This is the first time I’ve talked about this,” she continued. “It started when my group received hate due to a misunderstanding. At the time, I was scared of going to the hospital too. I was worried that it might be misunderstood, so I didn’t go and I endured it for a few years. Then it was too difficult.”
Eventually, she opened up to her mother and she received treatment for an anxiety disorder and depression. She was given medication, but she didn’t take it as she worried she wouldn’t be able to recover fully if she only depended on it. Soyeon shared that she’s since gotten better.
“I was worried while watching that because she seemed so isolated,” Soyeon said. “I hope that we all get along well during this program and get better.” She said to Sera, “Let’s be friends, we’re the same age.”
Sera later performed the song “Please” by Lee So Ra, sharing that she wants to show that people like her can gain confidence. Watch her performance below!
Looking back on her time in Crayon Pop, Soyul said, “There were times when we had more than 10 scheduled events in a day,” she said in her interview. “I remember living in the van for a week. I couldn’t wash my hair and I’d brush my teeth in there.”
She also said, “To be honest, Crayon Pop’s songs weren’t my style. I hated how my voice sounded when I forced it to sound different.”
“Even after I gave birth to my daughter, I missed performing,” said Soyul. “There are a lot of girl group members who continue after they turn 30, but wouldn’t it be difficult since I’ve gotten married and have a child? I think couldn’t let go [of my dream of performing.]”
The show took a look at her life at home as a mom to her young daughter and homemaker. Soyul said that while she’s very peaceful and happy as Hee Yul’s mother and her husband’s wife, she still feels an emptiness. “I let go of myself,” she said. “I lived for three years while forgetting who I am. I wanted to do music so badly too.”
Soyul shared that her husband Moon Hee Jun had liked it when she shared that she’d be coming on the show. She said, “When I was pregnant too, I told him, ‘Even after I have the baby, I’m going to promote if I can.'” Soyul was also shown going to a dance academy to practice her dancing.
Soyul then took to the stage to perform the famous trot song “Southbound Train” by Kim Soo Hee.
Gayoung said in her interview, “I thought we’d be a group like Apink, with a pure concept. But there was no reaction.” Gayoung debuted with STELLAR in 2011, and when they didn’t gain popularity through their pure concept, they switched to a sexy concept, with some of their music videos receiving R ratings.
She shared that this had led to a big increase in their work, and the agency had responded by making their concept even more provocative.
She went on to share the story of how the group had been blindsided when preparing for their comeback with “Vibrato.” They had done their outfit fitting but when they went to the music video set, they were told to wear outfits where the sides were open except for a string holding them together.
When the members said they couldn’t wear them, the agency head promised that if it looked too racy, they would change their clothes and the images wouldn’t be used. The group only took five photos and even their agency head agreed that it looked too racy. STELLAR changed their outfits for other photos, but the agency released the photos of the group in the original outfits.
“I finished the entire contract period [seven years] and left,” she said.
Gayoung shared, “There are people who send me photos of their privates through social media. I also often receive offers from sponsors.” In this case, the word “sponsor” is a euphemism for rich and influential people that pay large amounts of money and give support and backing to celebrities who provide sexual favors.
Gayoung’s mother said that she had been opposed to her taking this path, as being an idol is difficult. Gayoung had been such a top student that her goal was one of the most prestigious universities in the country. She talked about how her daughter’s sexy concept had made her heart ache.
Gayoung said, “When people asked what their daughter does and they told them I’m in the group STELLAR, those people would look me up then and ask, ‘Why does she do this kind of thing?’ I was so sorry about that.” The MCs told her, “It wasn’t your fault, it was the adults who were wrong to do that.”
Despite it being summer, Gayoung wore a long sleeve shirt and pants when she met her friends. She explained that because of her trauma from wearing such revealing clothing during her promotions, she prefers to wear long skirts or pants. “I hate other people looking at my legs and skin,” she shared.
Gayoung also shared that she’d only received 10 million won (approximately $8,700) over her seven years with the agency. Furious, Baek Ji Young said tearfully, “They didn’t pay you either?” Gayoung’s story will continue in the next episode.