The journey to becoming a K-Pop star is undoubtedly thrilling and glamorous on the outside. But behind the scenes, the immense pressure, grueling schedules, and high expectations from fans and agencies can take a toll on the mental health of the trainees and the celebrities. Thus, it’s not surprising that many idols, active or aspiring, often turn to therapy or counseling to improve their mental stability.
The Korean Content Promotion Association‘s Fair Play Center has been a beacon of support for these artists since 2011. Their psychological counseling project — designed specifically for celebrities and trainees — stands as an integral part of the mental well-being network within the industry. Especially for the smaller agencies without their own internal psychological counseling systems, this program by the Association is nothing short of a lifeline.
With the tragic events of multiple famous idols sadly taking their own lives in recent years, the emphasis on providing ample psychological support to the artists has become paramount. A testament to this growing necessity is seen in the surge of counseling sessions.
A whopping rise from 902 sessions to 2,612 within just last year and the number of participants soaring from 176 to 661 underscores the urgent demand for such support.
However, in a concerning turn of events, the budget allocated for this essential service has been drastically reduced this year.
From ₩500 million KRW (about $374,000 USD) in 2022, it’s down to a mere ₩290 million KRW (about $217,000 USD) for this year. By the end of July, the number of participants had already exceeded the annual limit, highlighting a concerning disparity between the need and the resources available.
The Institute recently conducted a revealing survey among 265 celebrities and trainees who underwent counseling between April and November of the previous year. A significant chunk of 21.53% expressed anxiety as their primary concern. And it’s not hard to understand why.
In an industry where one’s success is often fleeting, and the standards are set sky-high, these young artists face uncertainties about their future, anxieties about perceived inadequacies in skills, and an overwhelming fear of how they are perceived by their peers and fans. In essence, they’re grappling with anxiety regarding failure.
This situation raises some crucial questions. As the world continues to enjoy and consume K-pop, shouldn’t the industry, fans, and related organizations ensure that the artists producing this content are mentally and emotionally secure? If the demand for counseling is rising, why is the funding seeing such drastic cuts? And more importantly, what can be done to ensure that these young talents have access to the mental health resources they desperately need?
As the K-Pop industry continues to grow and reach global audiences, it’s essential that the mental well-being of its stars is not overlooked. If they’re expected to shine brightly for the world, they should equally have access to the support they need to keep doing so.