North Korean Media’s Claims of BTS and BLACKPINK Being Treated as “Slaves” Spark Ridicule

North Korea Kpop Idols
North Korea Kpop Idols
Credit: HYBE, YG Entertainment

An old report from a North Korean media outlet criticizing the treatment of South Korean idol groups like BTS and BLACKPINK resurfaced online and caught Korean netizens’ attention. The report, originally published in 2021 by Arirang Meahri, criticizes the treatment of South Korean idol groups like BTS and BLACKPINK, alleging they are being treated as “slaves” by their management companies.

Credit: Arirang Meahri

The report claimed that K-pop groups are subjected to exploitation and mistreatment, citing grueling training regimes that leave them with minimal sleep and a large portion of their earnings taken to cover training costs.

“As a result of the harsh training process, where they are subjected to severe humiliation and suffering, they are basically like living in a prison without bars. In the case of young female singers, they are forced to perform for politicians and businessmen so many of them have committed suicide, leaving suicide notes that they no longer want to live.”

However, Korean netizens have responded with disbelief and mockery to these claims. Many pointed out the irony of calling internationally acclaimed artists “slaves” when they earn hundreds of billions of dollars and enjoy immense popularity worldwide. Here are some of the comments: “What kind of slave earns hundreds and billions of dollars?”, “Don’t ‘slave artists’ only exist in North Korea?”, “Well, if they are the slaves, I want to be a slave too lmao”, “If they are slaves, am I… am I the livestock? What am I lol”, “BTS and BLACKPINK must be also well known in North Korea lol”, “Can I also be a slave who earns billions of dollars?”, “Please, I want to be a slave so I can buy a house with cash.”

Jokes aside, some netizens became suspicious of North Korea’s motives. Speculations arose about the claims being fabricated for propaganda purposes, fueled by the K-pop industry’s undeniable impact and influence. One user commented, “The impact and influence of K-pop must be great if they now have to fabricate lies for their propaganda.” Another compared the combined wealth of BTS and BLACKPINK to North Korea’s GDP, stating, “I think the combined wealth of BTS and BLACKPINK may be greater than the whole GDP of North Korea,” emphasizing the implausibility of the exploitation claims.

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