(News Focus) Albeit improving, erratic, hectic work environment still pushes young K-pop stars closer to breakdowns
By Woo Jae-yeon and Lee Eun-jung
SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- Solji from K-pop girl group EXID won't be able to join other members in promotional activities for the group's new mini album. She is advised to take care of her health as she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in December.
"The level of thyroid hormone returned to normal. I will do a health checkup a month later," she wrote on the group's official website on Wednesday.
"But I still suffer from an infection in my eyes and received radiation treatments for it. We will see how it goes."
This undated file photo is of Solji from girl group EXID. (Yonhap)
Solji is not the only one who has to put the brakes on an active career in the K-pop scene due to deteriorating health, injuries or mental problems.
Himchan from boy group B.A.P, who has recently suffered from fractured ribs, is not able to dance on stage for a while. Jisoo from girl group Tahiti is undergoing treatment for depression and panic disorder.
Earlier this month, Jun. K of 2PM fell off the stage during a concert, sustaining fractures in his right elbow joint and a finger. He had to undergo surgery. Jihyo from TWICE has pain in her knee and has missed some of her group's activities.
Girl group Lovelyz also has one member absent, as Ye-in injured her ankle while practicing choreography. She got a cast on her leg 10 days before the release of its new album. JinE from Oh My Girl has suffered from anorexia since last year and won't be able to pursue group activities that will start in earnest when a new album comes out next month.
This undated file photo is of Jun. K from 2PM. (Yonhap)
It is nothing new that K-pop idols can sustain injuries while dancing or break down under mounting stress and hectic schedules. That the issue doesn't easily go away, however, raises an alarm.
Most trainees enter this make-it-or-break-it industry from their early to mid teens. They work long hours to stay afloat, or get ahead if they are lucky. Intense competition on top of a busy schedule only increases after a debut, likely triggering physical and mental problems to surface that might have built up over the years.
Performing on stage and appearing in TV or radio shows are one thing. Practicing dance moves and singing until late at night are another. Naturally, sleeping soundly can become a luxury, said an official from a management company who asked not to be identified.
"The environment easily causes irregular meals, insufficient sleep and fatigue."
This undated file photo is of Ye-in of Girl group Lovelyz. (Yonhap)
There have recently been more reports about mental issues.
Popular stars fear that they can't stay at top forever and that their popularity can vanish overnight. What career steps they can take once they are no longer treated as a valuable asset in the entertainment industry is yet another factor that causes anxiety. Prying attention by media and fans doesn't make things any easier either.
One silver lining is the environment has been formed in the industry to closely check up on the mental and physical wellness of the stars and swiftly get them treatments if necessary.
Another executive from another agency pointed out that fans now are more active in encouraging their stars to take care of themselves.
"We try to nurture a working environment where stars can let off some steam in their free time and enjoy their personal life," the executive said.
This undated file photo is of JinE from Oh My Girl. (Yonhap)