A recent incident involving K-pop group FIFTY FIFTY has shed light on the harsh realities faced by idols and trainees in the industry.
Attrakt, the group’s agency, stands accused of providing the members with inadequate food support and subjecting them to excessive surveillance.
Only fed chicken breast and butter coffee
The incident alleged that side dishes prepared by FIFTY FIFTY’s parents were thrown on the living room floor by Attrakt. The act was viewed as disrespectful and indicative of a wider issue within the agency concerning food support. However, a recent report by Dispatch claimed that the ‘food’ in question was unhealthy snacks. They were thrown away because the trainees were on a strict low-calorie diet claimed the report.
The story took another turn when documents obtained by TenAsia revealed that K-pop group FIFTY FIFTY received 7.26 million won in food expenses. This was for 33 months from June 2020 to March 2023, averaging about 220,000 won per month. With four members, this amounts to an average of 55,000 won per person per month.
For 12 months out of the 33, the food expenses supported by the company were zero. The diet provided by the agency consisted mainly of chicken breast and butter coffee, with no consideration for nutritional balance. This led to concerns from members and their families about potential health risks.
The agency’s response to these concerns was inadequate at best. Only after continuous pressure from members and their families did the agency consult with a nutritionist in June 2022. Even then, the agency limited the support to 10,000 won per day per member at a nearby salad shop.
Surveillance and Control
In addition to the inadequate food support, allegations suggest that the agency subjected FIFTY FIFTY members to excessive surveillance. The agency installed CCTVs not only in the training centre but also at the accommodation’s front door. This level of surveillance goes beyond reasonable management and borders on invasion of privacy.
The FIFTY FIFTY incident has opened Pandora’s box, revealing a dark side of the K-pop industry that many fans and outsiders were unaware of. It revealed harsh realities for idols and trainees, including inadequate food support, excessive surveillance, and control.
SBS expose slammed
The Korea Entertainment Producers Association (Yeonjehyup) released an official statement this week that strongly criticized the production team of SBS Unanswered Questions (Gal).
“Regarding biased reporting, our association held an emergency executive meeting on Aug 21, 2023 and make the following statement: We convey our position, SBS and Unanswered Questions lost the fairness and public interest of broadcasting, distorted the essence of the current disputed case, biased, and reported false facts, thereby encouraging public opinion,” said the Yeonjehyup statement.
The saga continues …
The FIFTY FIFTY vs. Attrakt saga reveals that K-pop’s glitz often masks complex, troubling realities. It calls for a serious examination of the industry’s practices. Especially in small and medium-sized agencies, pressure to succeed may lead to unethical, inhumane treatment of young talents.
The industry must take this incident as a wake-up call to reform its practices and prioritize the well-being of its artists. The fans, too, have a role to play in demanding transparency and accountability from the agencies. Only through collective efforts can we hope to see a K-pop industry that is not only successful but also ethical and compassionate.