In recent months, one of the biggest concerns netizens have had with the K-Pop industry is the fact that idols seem to be debuting younger and younger. Whereas it was once normal for people to debut in their 20s, young teenagers are debuting, and it has raised concerns about their wellbeing.
It has meant a prejudice toward those wanting to live out their K-Pop dream at an older age or for idols who are getting older in the industry.
Recently, BTS‘s leader RM has shared his own thoughts on the issue and how it’s impacted him as an idol.
By any standards, RM isn’t old. He is only 27 years old internationally and by the traditional Korean age system, RM will turn 30 next year.
Yet, the idol explained in a recent appearance on the Intersections: The Art Basel podcast that turning 30 is a huge thing in K-Pop in comparison to those studying art, where aging is a benefit.
I’m 29 in Korea. So, when we turn 30, it’s a different thing. I’m still young, just a young man. In a world of boybands, turning 30 is something different in K-Pop.
RM then rightly explained that this idea of aging in the industry is a sad fact and is something that has impacted him. In particular, it has made him wonder about the future and whether, by K-Pop’s standards, he has already hit his peak.
That’s really sad, but it’s a fact. I feel like, ‘Okay, is this my prime time? Is this the highlight of my whole life because I am 29 and I could live to 100 years old and that’s really sad if it’s my prime time.’
If RM’s explanation wasn’t enough, one quote from the host really showcased the issues and RM agreed with it wholeheartedly. It showcases the tough reality that boyband members face worldwide.
What you’re saying now is that as you’re coming up to what people say is the traditional expiration date for a boyband star, actually seeing what happened in the career of visual artists allows you to think longer.
— Podcast host
When the podcast was released, netizens couldn’t stop praising RM for his honesty. Yet, it isn’t the first time that RM has called out the K-Pop industry for its flaws. Earlier in the month, BTS sat down for their FESTA Dinner to celebrate the group’s anniversary.
According to RM, the fact that groups lose a sense of who they are and forget about the messages they want to share with fans comes from the issues within the industry.
But the problem with K-Pop and the whole idol system is that they don’t give you time to mature. You have to keep producing music and keep doing something.
Like with the problem of age in the industry, RM spoke about how these problems within the industry had taken their toll on him as an artist and a member of BTS. He explained that in the past, it might’ve been easy, but it was a very different story now.
I could balance this with work before. But after ten years of living as BTS and working all our schedules, I can’t physically mature anymore.
Although idols seem to be getting younger, there also seem to be artists shining as they get older. Musicians like PSY, Super Junior, and Girls’ Generation are proving that age has no boundaries when it comes to talent.
In a world where K-Pop can sometimes be seen through rose-tinted glasses, RM is one of many idols unafraid to share the darker side. BTS might be getting older and many of the members are approaching 30 years old (Korean age), but they continue to showcase their dominance.
You can read more about RM spilling on the issues in the K-Pop industry below.