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The Double Standard in K-Pop: It's Worse Than You Think.

There's more to it than glitz and glamour...

By Inky Rose Published 5 months ago 7 min read

Hello everyone, I take it you are familiar with Korean pop music or have encountered it in some way. Korean music has reached the mainstream media within the last few years, and with that, more and more things are surfacing, these things include how the idols are really treated, and yes, the double standard is becoming more obvious as the music gains more of a following from all over the world. The double standard is a terrible but real thing that impacts female idols in particular. Women in Korean pop have been stigmatized for many reasons, and it's just downright cruel, especially when there is a male idol out there doing the exact same thing and going unscathed. Let's discuss some of these instances.

The first example we have here is plastic surgery. Plastic surgery is becoming fairly common in all parts of the world, but depending on who you are, you can be shunned for it as an idol. In male idols, getting plastic surgery in their teens is seen as 'puberty.' However, if a female idol got surgery in her teens, she's seen as a monster and addicted to plastic surgery.

Yeonjun from the boy group TXT had plastic surgery done on his nose. Below is an image of the before and after:

On the contrary, Karina from the girl group aespa also had a surgery and this knowledge surfaced. Netizens berated her for it and called her a 'monster.' Below are images of her pre-debut and now:

It hilarious how the industry can influence how these women and girls feel about them so much to the point of altering their natural beauty, but when they actually do, they are rejected and shunned. This just goes to show you can't please everyone.

The next example I'm going to give you is downright insane. BTS member RM was seen reading a feminist book and was applauded by fans for being educated in women's issues. Irene from the girl group Red Velvet posted on social media saying that she read a book that reflected on casual sexism. She received back lash for it, and fans allegedly burned their photo cards of her's as well as her merchandise. (I guess they were trying to do something, but the reality is that they just burned some of their own money in a way...)

Now the reason for this is because in Korea, feminism is viewed in a negative light, due to a deeply ingrained patriarchal influence. The increasing vehemence towards female stars merely showing any interest in bettering the rights of women and female empowerment comes at a time when South Korea’s entertainment is dealing with major disruptions as a result of #MeToo. Women in the entertainment industry have been objectified, sexualized, and exploited, but they have been told to keep silent, because many things would be in jeopardy. Feminists in Korea are viewed as 'radical' and it's not in women's favor that about 90% of men in their 20's are anti-feminist. (

There was another example of double standards that regarded these two idols. Both are the leaders of their groups, and it just so happens that both idols don't cry often. RM was regarded as a 'strong leader,' whereas Irene was called 'heartless.' Now there are issues with this in itself because people have concocted that if you cry often, you are weak, a crybaby, and childish, but if you don't cry at all, you are emotionless and heartless.

(Again, you can't please everyone. This is hard for idols who have to look good all the time and please their fans.)

The next one involves many idols, because this is prominent in all K-Pop groups: cuteness. Korean beauty standards admire cuteness and doll-like (almost in-human) features. Fans love when their favorite idol makes a cute face or does something considered cute. This might not be for everyone. It is not unheard of that some fans tell female idols that are acting cute that they need to 'act their age' or that they are being 'childish.' Meanwhile male idols can act cute all they want because fans enjoy it instead of rebuffing them for being 'childish.'

Below are images of Rosé from Blackpink, and Jungkook from BTS.

Following all these, is yet another double standard that is actually fairly common. I introduce you to 'slut-shaming.' It is kind of how it sounds. It is when someone, usually a woman, is criticized for their behavior and appearance regarding sexuality. An example would be to call a woman something like 'slut' or 'whore' because they wear a skirt that rides above the ankle. (So scandalous... This is satirical FYI.) Remember when I said earlier that K-Pop idols act cute for fans? Keep that in mind, because it contributes to why some idols are slut-shamed. A direct example would be Hwasa, a former member of the girl group MAMAMOO. She has been slut-shamed because of an outfit she wore on-stage that 'showed too much skin.'

Below is an image of the said outfit:

Not so bad right? They were calling her terrible names for it....

Meanwhile Jay Park gets to do this, and no one bats and eye! People even call the male idols 'sexy' for it.

If you are a female K-Pop idol, God forbid your skirt is higher that your knees. (Satirical.)

Women should be able to express their sexuality, and by many standards, her outfit is a fairly ‘tame’ outfit.

This isn't me saying that there is no bad for male idols either. They have it just as bad as the women of K-Pop do. Men in K-Pop have to deal with so much as well. Both men and women in the K-Pop industry go through terrible fasting diets to 'maintain' their weight. Some of the time, the women are only chosen for their looks and not talent.

Both genders of idols have to undergo hardship, lots of training, and even have declining mental health because of all the stress to look beautiful, be kind, always smile, do what the fans want. You over all have to shut all your humanness into a small box and never let it seep into the limelight. They are expected to be god-like and literally above normal humans, which is why they are called idols. None of this is exclusive to the K-Pop industry, it happens all over the world. From Hollywood or wherever, there is always the double standard rearing its ugly head at women and men that want to make it in the world as a celebrity.

I think there really needs to be change. We shouldn't just view celebrities as these special 'un-earthly' beings. They are just as human as the next person (unless the next person is from Jupiter.)

We all should just come into terms with the fact that celebrities are people too! They have feelings just like us and shouldn't have to hide their troubles and be completely perfect for their fans and their reputation. I understand that some of these people have been on stage, performed for people, been in movies, but that doesn't make them less human.

No person should ever have to go through all this. It's basically having your freedom taken away. Now, I understand that this was their choice and I'm sure they love what they do, but the cost for doing something you love shouldn't be altering your entire self and becoming this idealistic person. It's extreme and brutal.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I hope you learned something here. Thank you for reading everyone and have a good day🏙️/night🌃!

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Have an opinion on this article? Comment on it! I would love to hear your opinion, and ALL OPINIONS ARE WELCOME! 🙂

(Stay tuned for the sources and further reading.)

Sources and Further Reading:

K-pop’s gross double standard for women (

4 Times Double Standards Were Exposed In K-Pop - Koreaboo

Fans Claim These Photos PROVE Double Standards Exist Between Male And Female K-Pop Idols - Koreaboo

Why misogyny is at the heart of South Korea's presidential elections - BBC News

pop culturehumanitycorruptioncelebrities

About the Creator

Inky Rose

Hi! I'm Inky Rose! I am an aspiring author and I want to share my opinions with you. I am done with cancel culture! Join to become an Inky Bud.

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