“Sexual Violence, Forced Weight Loss And Plastic Surgery” — How Seoul Plans To Protect Young K-Pop Trainees


In a move to safeguard the wellbeing of young idol trainees, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has established a groundbreaking legal framework. This initiative addresses the longstanding issue of physical and mental health risks faced by teenagers in the highly competitive entertainment industry.

The Council has successfully passed the “Seoul Metropolitan Youth Culture and Arts Rights Protection and Support Ordinance.” This ordinance, a first of its kind, was ratified during the 321st regular meeting of the Seoul Metropolitan Council. Its primary aim is to provide a safety net for teenage idol trainees and those who discontinue their training midway.

NewJeans’ Hyein is only 15 years old. | SBS Inkigayo

The urgency of this measure becomes evident in light of the fact that a significant majority of South Korea’s entertainment agencies are based in Seoul. Out of 4,774 registered agencies nationwide, 82.3% (3,930) operate within the city. Despite Seoul being the epicenter for idol scouting, training, and activities, there was a glaring absence of any institutional mechanism to protect the rights and well-being of trainees at the city level.

All of the “Big 4” companies are situated in Seoul. | Bloomberg

The newly passed ordinance is a response to these concerns, focusing on preventing physical and mental health damage that trainees might suffer. Key issues addressed include sexual harassment, sexual violence, forced weight loss, and pressure to undergo cosmetic surgery — practices that have long been rampant and largely unregulated in the industry.

TWS’s Kyungmin, set to debut soon, is only 16 years old. | Pledis Entertainment

Commencing this year, the ordinance will facilitate psychological testing and counseling for trainees. This proactive approach aims to provide early intervention in cases of similar risks, ensuring that the trainees’ mental health is monitored and supported adequately.

BLACKPINK’s Rose is one of the many idols who have spoken up about the importance of mental health. | TenAsia 

Moreover, the ordinance extends its support to those who either fail to debut or have their contracts terminated. It includes provisions for career counseling to aid these individuals in exploring new career paths, thus offering them hope and guidance beyond the idol industry.

Councilor Kim’s — who stewarded this new ordinance — statement underscores the gravity of the situation: despite the global popularity and success of K-Pop, the journey of idol trainees is fraught with risks and uncertainties. These challenges have traditionally been shouldered solely by the trainees themselves. Through this ordinance, Seoul aims to change this narrative by ensuring a secure and supportive environment for all young talents, irrespective of their future in the industry.

 A new ordinance will facilitate psychological testing and counseling for trainees. 

Related Posts

Scroll to Top