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Health issues holding back young K-pop stars

April 27, 2023 - 15:54 By Hong Yoo
Joy of Red Velvet (SM Entertainment)

The K-pop industry has been witnessing a recent relay of health issues among young K-pop artists.

The ailments vary from physical to psychological problems.

SM Entertainment announced Wednesday that Joy of girl group Red Velvet will take a temporary break from group activities due to her health condition.

“Joy recently paid a visit to doctors after feeling unwell. After diagnosis, she was recommended to take a break and focus on recovery,” the statement said. “Joy will be taking a break to focus on recovery and will not be taking part in any scheduled plans for the time being. The decision was made after a thorough discussion with Joy, so we hope fans understand.”

Red Velvet recently set off on a world tour and following their gig in Singapore last Friday, Joy along with her members was scheduled to perform in eight more countries.

But it is yet unclear whether she would be able to take part in these concerts.

Rei of IVE (Yonhap)

Prior to Joy, there was Rei of K-pop girl group IVE that also put a halt to her activities on April 11, just a day after she made a comeback with IVE’s first full-length album, “I’ve IVE,” due to her health situation.

“Rei, after experiencing heart palpitations and pressure in her chest, visited a hospital for a medical consultation and checkup,” said her agency, Starship Entertainment. “We received medical advice that she needs treatment and should take a rest. After sufficient discussion with Rei, we have decided to temporarily halt her activities so she can recover her health.”

Rei told her fans that she will “take a break to recover” and added that she wishes “all IVE members to be loved (with this comeback).”

Haechan of NCT (Arena Homme)

Early this year, Haechan of NCT took a break for about three weeks for health reasons.

He had chest problems and has been resting and recovering in accordance with his doctor’s orders.

But so many K-pop idols taking leave due to their deteriorating health is nothing new.

Rather, it has been a long, persistent problem observed in the K-pop industry.

“There is a famous saying in Korea, ‘Row when the water comes in,’ and that is why agencies make their K-pop bands work with their calendars fully booked. That burns them out. The agencies should try to aim for a longer run. In that sense, they need to take care of their artists’ health and safety for a sustainable successful career,” said cultural critic Jeong Duk-hyeon.

Not only fans but also the public are worried about K-pop artists’ burnout with some leaving supportive messages on artists’ social media accounts.

“Don’t submit to peer pressure and take enough breaks,” “Everyone has its times of difficulties,” and, “Rest when you can and get treated when you’re sick,” the messages read.

These days, some entertainment agencies provide annual medical check-ups for their artist and also psychological therapy by inviting experts in for a special program.

In the case of the K-pop powerhouse Hybe, it has a professional psychiatrist that holds therapy sessions with its trainees once every week.

“Mental care is just as much as important as physical health care, but it is unclear how the agencies are managing the mental health of their trainees. Putting aside major companies, others are not financially abundant to provide such necessities to their trainees," said Jeong.