From BIGBANG‘s T.O.P to TVXQ, several K-Pop stars have gone on diets made up almost entirely of water. Some idols, however, went through times when even hydration was off the menu. In an episode of YouTube‘s new documentary series, K-Pop Evolution, former KARA member Han Seungyeon revealed a time when she couldn’t even drink water while promoting.
Han Seungyeon has always been vocal about the realities of dieting as an idol. In 2012, five years after her debut, she revealed she wanted to go back to a time when she didn’t have to diet—”A time when I could eat peanut butter by the spoon-fulls, eat instant ramyun with my friends late at night, and eat four to five meals a day“, she stated. In 2014, she told viewers on MBC‘s Quiz to Change the World that she once passed out after dieting and exercising four times a week.
On K-Pop Evolution, she revealed how her experiences with dieting first started. The idol actress confessed that she never even thought about dieting until her producer made one off-hand comment: “You’re planning to diet, right?”
Just that one comment. Seriously. Just those few words and I was on a diet.
— Han Seungyeon
It seems her most extreme form of dieting came in 2009 when KARA promoted “Mister”. The dance-pop track was almost always performed in the same type of accent—a cropped top and low-cut pants. As such, the members had to show their stomachs and abs on stage constantly.
In order to maintain their image in the outfits, Han Seungyeon revealed the members “couldn’t even drink water until the end of the day.” While water won’t make anyone gain weight, she explained that even one cup of water can cause your belly to bloat, which would be visible in their revealing outfits.
Han Seungyeon didn’t elaborate on whether she ever challenged her agency on their dieting rules, but she did give some advice for those currently in the industry. While she thinks it’s unwise for idols to fight with their companies needlessly, her opinion doesn’t extend to instances where those idols are suffering. “If they ask you to sacrifice your health or treat you badly,” she stated, “I don’t think you should put up with that.”
You have to fight back when you need to.
— Han Seungyeon