The rise of K-pop has skyrocketed over the years, introducing the world to a genre full of multi-talented and visually stunning K-pop artists. However, behind the glitter and glamour is a strict industry often criticized by the K-pop artists that the industry produces.

Keep reading for all of the K-pop idols who have gotten real about the K-pop industry, the strict trainee system and the hardships they have faced before and after debuting. 

One K-pop idol who has gotten brutally honest about his qualms with K-pop is BTS’ leader, RM. During the group’s Festa Bangtan Dinner in June 2022, the rapper took a moment to address some of the issues he’s faced being a young K-pop star, as well as the “whole idol system.”

“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,” he explained. “After I get up in the morning and get makeup done, there’s no time left for growth. And it’s not just about music and work; I’ve changed as a human over the past ten years.”

RM even shared that after 10 years of living as a member of BTS and working through their busy schedules, he can’t “physically mature anymore.”

“There’s just no time for me to think; I have to be aware of who I am what kind of group BTS is,” he revealed. “I need to be aware of why I’m here, who the members are to me, the path we’re going to take as a group to go through interviews and write lyrics. But at some point, I haven’t been sure what group we are.”

Another popular idol who shared their honest thoughts about K-pop, is BLACKPINK’s Jennie Kim. The Korean artist opened up about the tight restrictions K-pop stars often face while speaking to Dua Lipa on her BBC Sounds “Dua Lipa: At Your Service” podcast.

INDIO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 15: (L-R) Jisoo, Jennie, Lisa, and Rosé of BLACKPINK perform at the Coachella Stage during the 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 15, 2023 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella) Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

“Starting my career in Korea as a K-pop artist has restricted so many sides of me, where it wasn’t just allowed to be shown because I’m a K-pop idol,” she told Dua. “And I was scared, I think, also to express myself. And as things grew, over time, I was able to express myself and people would see it as breaking the boundaries rather than, ‘She’s doing something that she’s not allowed to do’ and being able to open a new chapter for people that are starting in the business in Korea.”

She continued, “That’s when I realized I want to break more boundaries for people in my culture to understand that expressing yourself as however you want – there shouldn’t be a standard. There shouldn’t be a reason to judge, and [rather to] just see it as, ‘Oh, that’s how that person expresses themselves.’”

Click through our gallery to uncover all of the K-pop artists who have opened up about the hardships of being a K-pop idol. 

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