Member C.A.P (now known as Bang Min Su) was removed from the second-generation idol group TEEN TOP…
…following a controversial YouTube live broadcast—in which he was seen smoking and cursing out viewers who criticized him for smoking. He later revealed that he caused trouble with the intention to leave the group.
Just now during the broadcast, I smoked so there were comments asking me if I could not smoke during my live stream. You know what’s annoying about this? First of all, people who don’t usually watch my stream are suddenly watching because [TEEN TOP] is making a comeback and saying that I shouldn’t do that, and I honestly hate that kind of bullshit.
Why do those people come and spout that bullshit at me? You usually don’t consume my content, but when I think about it, it’s because I’m part of a group and you think I may hurt the group. If that’s the case and you don’t like me, you should have said something before I went to the military, or at least six months ago.
This also might sound like it’s coming from nowhere, but fuck it. I’m thinking of just not participating in the comeback. My contract ends in July anyways.
— Bang Min Su
Since then, Bang has remained out of the spotlight—as a former celeb turned painter and other part-time gig worker. Regardless of his career switch, Bang continued to interact with his followers via social media platforms, with YouTube live broadcasts being one of his most regular form of communication.
Then, in the latest live, Bang made some more comments about K-Pop idols that sparked an intense discussion online.
I think idol culture is diseased. It’s rotting. And I think it’s because idols—even as pre-debut trainees—are brainwashed by the management agencies. ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t date. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink.’ And the agencies have to keep restricting their idols and trainees so much because, let’s be real, agencies don’t want to lose what was invested. And if something goes wrong, there’s no turning back.
— Bang Min Su
In response to a viewer claiming that agencies have to push for perfection because “idols sell fantasies,” Bang disagreed and explained his take on what idols do. According to Bang, idol groups were first put together to “do what solo performers could not do alone.”
Let me give it to you straight. Idols aren’t meant to sell fantasies. It’s the people who like idols… The fans are making it that way. But initially, idol groups came around, not to sell fantasies, but to do what solo performers could not do alone. To perform better and to put together bigger and fancier shows. But at one point, it turned into a fantasy-selling job.
— Bang Min Su
Bang then insisted that all idols embarked on their K-Pop career paths “because they want to sing and dance,” but end up selling fantasies instead—thanks to fans and management agencies catering to those fans. In Bang’s perspective, idol traineeship is “all about physical labor” but, after debut, idol life is all about “emotional labor.”
As a trainee, it’s all about physical labor. But once an idol debuts, it becomes emotional labor. There are literally unthinkable micro-managing and unwritten rules that idols have to endure, coming from people they would’ve never even imagined.
— Bang Min Su
In addition, Bang did not believe that the word “idol” best described what idols were meant to do. Bang believed that “Dancer-Singer” sounded better for the occupation in question.
I feel like the word “Idol” isn’t even the right word. It should be “Dancer-Singer” or something. Like, what do idols do? If you think about it… Trainees who want to debut as idols want that because they want to sing and dance on stage. It’s the management agencies who dress them up in such “fantasies” because how else would they make money? And it makes them think, “I just want to sing and dance. I’m not interested in selling any fantasies… But then, all of a sudden, I’m being held to impossible moral standards and unrealistic expectations. What am I even doing?” You know? It makes no sense how trainees, who just wanted to perform on stage, go on to debut just become idols who, then, have to pretend they’re some fantasy boyfriends/girlfriends.
— Bang Min Su
Following the live, K-Pop fans clashed in different online communities over Bang’s claims. Some agreed with Bang, pointing out that it’s the fans that turn the idols into targets of their fantasies and forcing them into expectations that don’t align with their original goals of dancing, singing, and performing on stage.
- “K-Pop business has been selling fantasies since H.O.T times. Who does he think he is? I get that idols have it hard, and I’m not suggesting that idols should suck it up for the income. But what he’s claiming is wrong.”
- “Regardless of who he is, I think it’s true that idols are now selling fantasies. But that’s also how some under-qualified trainees can end up debuting.”
- “Idols ABSOLUTELY sell fantasies, WDYM?”
- “But what are idols? Role models to teenagers. Of course idols have to be held to higher standards. The impact idols have is on another level. I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about. Just because idol life was hard for him doesn’t mean he can talk about the whole business like this.”
- “Well, I consider my bias an artist. They sell music and performances. I’m not looking to buy fantasies. I don’t think they’d want me to buy fantasies from them either. So…”
- [Deleted Comment]
- “Y’all… He used to be an idol himself. And this is how he sees it. I don’t think we need to be calling his opinion right or wrong. Not unless we, too, go through what idols go through.”
- “So that’s what he thinks. We should not be ripping him apart online because he shared his thoughts and those thoughts differ from ours. Like some of us are living proof that the idol culture is indeed diseased.”
- “He’s right. I don’t think idols are meant to sell fantasies.”
- “Sir. Please STFU and move on with that retired, non-idol life.”
- “Call it what you will. But I think idol business is simply high risk, high return. Yes, it does come with a lot of standards that measure not only skills like singing and dancing, but also morals and work ethics. It’s demanding, both physically and mentally.”
Others argued that “Dancer-Singers would never ‘sell’ as well as idols-fulfilling-fan-fantasies.” One comment claimed, “Even non-celeb social media influencers make profit from representing ideas, concepts, images, and reputations; Idols are 100% selling fantasies.”
- “He’s spitting facts…”
- “WDYM celebrities are selling fantasies? Perhaps you’ve trapped them inside the fantasies that you thought up in your head. But celebrities are basically freelancers. They have to be presentable and maintain a certain level of work and moral ethics to continue receiving work. How does that end up ‘selling fantasies,’ though?”
- “I think these comments explain how disgusting it must be for actual idols.”
- “It’s a business. The entertainment ‘INDUSTRY.’ There’s demand and so there’s supply. But I agree that it’s absurd that we ended up treating humans as products… Like, there’s no life there.”
- “I’m sorry, I thought idols pursued their dreams of becoming idols because they wanted to charm fans with their singing and dancing. Isn’t that why trainees work so hard to debut? This is all so very confusing to me.”
- “But the word itself comes from ‘idolizing.’ How else would idols do the idolizing if not through selling fantasies?”
- “Yes, it’s emotionally draining for idols. But I’d have to disagree and say celebrities do sell fantasies. Some fans like idols for ‘what meets the eye.’ It’s all about how they’re presented. So I don’t think it’s ONLY about singing and dancing.”
- “K-Pop fans have evolved to be a lot more demanding and even degrading. So on top of the physical labor comes the emotional labor. But at the core, I do think idols sell fantasies. They live off concepts and reputations.”
- “In whichever case, one thing’s for sure: Idols do a lot of emotional labor because some fans want to rip them apart over each and every move and sound the idols make.”
Bang has not responded to the discussions. Watch the full live below.