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K-Pop Called Out for ‘Slave-Like Exploitation’ By North Korea


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    A North Korean propaganda website has accused South Korea’s K-pop industry of treating popular groups such as BTS and Blackpink like “slaves.”

    “Slave-like exploitation”: In an article published on March 13, the North Korean propaganda website Arirang-Meari claimed that K-pop record labels are exploiting young artists, according to NK Economy.

    • These artists are also allegedly “deprived of their body, heart and soul.” They sign contracts at a young age and are “treated as slaves by malicious and corrupt entertainment industry conglomerate bosses,” NK News reports.
    • In addition to this mistreatment, the Arirang-Meari article declares that K-pop record labels “suck most revenues out of the singers under a nominal purpose of using the money to train them,” according to The Korea Times.
    The beginning of the Arirang-Meari article via NK Economy

    Ongoing speculation: The reasons behind the publication of this article are still unclear.

    • Foreign media is not freely available to most North Korean citizens.
    • However, some of them find ways to smuggle media such as TV shows, movies and music into their country, CNN explains.
    • Sang-sin Lee, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, told NK News that publishing Arirang-Meari’s article might be something North Korean propagandists did to crack down on foreign media.
    • Lee speculates that North Korea is “working on producing some sort of counterintelligence, claiming that these popular songs are being made under poor conditions — ‘slave-like’ exploitation of young trainees.”

    South Koreans react: Several K-pop fans shared their thoughts on the Arirang-Meari article on social media.

    • According to The Korean Times, one of these fans wrote that “Kim Jong-un must be an avid K-pop fan. Maybe he doesn’t want to reveal that so he wants his people to distance themselves from K-pop while he can enjoy it secretly?”
    • Another fan wrote, “K-pop must be on fire in North Korea right now, mesmerizing North Korean youths and all.”
    • As of this writing, well-known K-pop labels such as YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment and Big Hit Entertainment have yet to publicly address Arirang-Meari’s article.

    Feature Image via Getty

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