The Late Capitalism of K-Pop

Share this video on

What's Hot

What's New

Top Grossing

Top of the Chart


Cuck Philosophy : Some corrections on the things I’ve said in the video: - The 13-year long contracts have not been legal since 2009. It is now limited to 7 years. - I say that Jessica is a member of Girls Generation, but she hasn’t been since 2014. - I say that in the 90s, “with the advent of the internet, South Koreans became familiar with American pop culture”. This is inaccurate as South Koreans had access to American culture long before that. What I meant to say was that the liberalization of media and communications technology in the 90s made American culture easier to access, which led to a growth in its popularity. In addition, it must be noted that some of the things I mentioned do not apply across the board to all trainee situations, for example, dating is not prohibited to ALL trainees and not all trainees have to pay back the money spent on training. As in any large industry, there are exceptions. There are, of course, also changes happening in the industry, but this video was more of a broad outline of how K-pop developed. Any comments involving news on legal and social developments in the K-pop industry are very welcome. Thank you for the views and the comments, I really appreciate it!

Ace : whats also scary is the obsessed and kinda disturbing fanbase kpop has.

Arthur U : I have like a month or so that I've been entering the world of kpop, and I've already heard unnatural things from the business. One idol was told to lose 15 pounds in one week or she couldn't debut. The idol resorted to eating only ice cubes and expressed how she felt so weak that she was scared of going to sleep as she was afraid she wouldn't wake up.

semantix : I wrote a research essay about the irony of "Korean Rap" as a genre. In the sense that rap, as a music form, stems from the idea of authenticity, yet in a heavily manufactured genre like K-Pop it's become a prevalent mainstay in their song formula (each group has a rapper / every song has a rap verse). The inauthenticity doesn't make it bad, it just leads to generic song structures capitalising on whatever "sound" is trending (look to tropical house last year / latin pop this year), which makes it hard, I'd argue even impossible, to ever see it as art (with the understanding that "art" is supposed to convey something "more" / stem from authenticity).

Lucipurr : I appreciate how in depth this is. From my personal experience, a lot of kpop fans (especially younger fans) don’t understand that kpop behemoth groups, such as BTS, weren’t formed in a garage by some kids after school. Also, a lot of older individuals who bash kpop tend to go after the idols themselves, they don’t understand that the record labels are 100% responsible for the idols. They say things like “they have all this money, all this fame, and they make shit like this” with out realizing they are just people trying to make a living. This video is very, very well done. Subbed.

Sascha : I remember, when the leader and main vocalist of Girls' Generation (Taeyeon 11:05) said that she's struggeling with depression. A lot of people started to hate her. They said things like "You are unprofessional". They made fun of her on TV. A few years ago, when she was openly talking about her mental illness, she was voted as the most hated KPOP-Idol. After that incident she stopped talking about her depression and the last time she looked sad/was crying in public was when her best friend and co-worker Jonghyun killed himself. I do not know how to explain this. Is this the systems fault? Or are the people in the world are really that cruel? I am a KPOP fan and I love Taeyeon. She is my favorite singer for 3 years now and I love Jonghyun as well. It really hurts to see them suffering. Or not being on this world anymore... THIS SYSTEM IS SICK.

MrPugg : You my dude. You just took Anime to a New level

Quaglium Quagnarr : So, they're like cute puppets?

mattishii : You should rebrand your channel. This is a good video but this channels name is really off-putting

ceelar : This video has been popping up on my suggestions for a while and I never clicked it because, well, "Cuck Philosophy" doesn't really draw me in. I'm glad I caved, though. Interesting stuff.

E.M Aguilar : Please do Japan's idol industry too.

A E : This is how Disney celebrities come to be as well

Celebrimbor Blue : It always astounds me how much actual work US put in "stopping communism" all over the world.

Ganja Mozart : Loved the astute analysis (I’m Korean and so it was extra fascinating!).

Fae Tolkien : And to think that non korean westerners now want to become idols in korea simply because they have romanticized them is crazy really.

Brant Liu : Well done. Great work. I like how u combined broader Korean society and history with K-pop industry. But I would like to add that traditional Eastern Asian culture (let’s say Confucianism) is definitely at play here. Our culture has a long history of valuing conformity to status quo and authorities, and the one thing had been pulling the strings here was never a religious institution but a highly organised secular top-to-bottom system of hierarchy. Religious institutions in west were gradually debunked in past few centuries as the ultimate source of authorities but the secular hierarchy system of the East Asia has never been completely challenged to its core. This system always comes around to place all the responsibilities on marginalised individuals instead of the system itself. That’s one reason why we have always glamourised working hard without questioning too much as the no.1 moral quality for one to achieve success in life. Most rebellions are only targeting the individual or the group sitting in the highest position but never did the top position itself disappear. That’s reason why the few successful farmers rebellions in Ancient China only resulted in some farmers taking the throne for themselves, continuing to repress the mass where they had originated combining with only the change of the name of a new dynasty. In modern time, the throne has metamorphosed into the top positions in the capitalist economy. This old system fits so well with capitalism itself. That’s reason why many East Asian countries are able to transform its economy to the late stage of capitalism at an accelerating rate by completing within only a few decades the process that took more than 200 years in many western countries. Our capitalism is enforced from the top down and it did not grow out from the bottom of the society. Japan, HongKong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea have all done that. And China is also doing that despite all supposedly leashes on private capitals imposed by states. Our old social system is so compatible with capitalism what we did was only changing the lock of an old cage and refurbishing it.

Cryo Phobica : Do the fans know of this. Do they care? A friend I know kind of knows about this but doesn't want to know more and to just keep on enjoying it without guilt. Most people who find out about this stuff just kinda continue on with they're life, we're not gonna do anything

4eversupersonicgirl : incoming all the butthurt kpop fans protecting their unnies and oppas

gogetyourgun : I watched a video of interviews with 2 north Korean defectors. What really stood out to me is that this one north korea man stated he didn't contemplate suicide while in North Korea. However, when he went to university in South Korea and is now competing with other south koreans, he felt he was extremely behind and not adequate enough. He was studying long hours, not fitting in with student, so he started to contemplate suicide. You would think that since he lived in an oppressive shithole country that he would contemplate suicide there, but the total opposite happened. He also observed a disconnect between family members in South Korea. In the North, families were more connected since they were all they got. But since South Korea is saturated with consumerism, materialism, etc., it seems people are way more interested in making money and material things since those qualities are more likely to get you respect amongst a capitalist society. There really needs to be some sort of workers rights reform since South Koreans are dealing with high suicide rates. In North Korea, you're a slave to Kim Jong Un, but in South Korea, you are a slave to private corporations. Of course South Korea is a way better place to live in than North Korea, but what the North Korean man said about his experience with suicide was extremely telling.

RedgraveGilver : No wonder they're lacking so much in Metal, Rock and Jazz or pretty much in most established music genre when you compare them to Japan who has a massive booming jazz/jazz fusion scene during the 70's till today and booming Metal scene during the 80's(X-Japan being the forefront) and even until today.

dunyazade : Sad :(

Truble_Shooter : MRW people say capitalism isn't just feudalism 2.0

Stagger Lee : So K-Pop is as far removed from actual music as you can get.

Glink : Good analysis and good points made that illuminate a underlying issue, but I don't understand you're constant aim against capitalism in all your videos. I don't think you can simply pin this to capitalism, but rather a more nuanced perspective of flawed business practices, complete lack of oversight, and lack of workers rights. All of these things can be tweaked to work well with capitalism, so pinning it on capitalism - the economic system which has brought more prosperity and quality of life in the past 50 years than any other in the history of earth, is cherry picking misleading I think. just some thoughts.

jammity : Really good analysis, even with the inconsistencies you identified. A lot of people down in the comments will tell you that the industry is changing for the better, that kpop idols now have more creative control- but it's important to note that most of these changes are only happening for boy groups though, so unfortunately the whole industry isn't changing.

MrZeyami : Welcome to the machine

DLC ENERGY : this.... this is a damn impressive video... i wasn't expecting all this in-depth history. where do you even find all this stuff?

Lil Shiba-su : isn't all pop highly manufactured? but great vid nonetheless

Pokémon Trainer Elio : So, the BTS members never had a proper childhood? It seems like the K-Pop industry is a dark place, similar to Hollywood. It makes sense why Jonghyun passed away.

Ben Jackbag Mank : From what I've heard from those in the industry, you forgot to mention the systematic sexual abuse of young girls. Behind the scenes it's little more than 21st century style sexual slavery with executives keeping girls like harems. Any girl who achieves any amount of success in the commercial k-pop industry is virtually guaranteed to have been the victim of sexual exploitation rising through the ranks. The k-pop industry is all about farming sex and power for those running the companies.

Jennifer Kim : I'd just like to point out that while you provide insightful comments about the history of Korean pop culture, not all of Korean popular music is "idols" from the "big 3 companies." K-pop produced in the style you describe in the video is well-known internationally, but truthfully Koreans actually listen to way more kinds of music than just corporate-produced idols. Rock, hip-hop, ballad (from Korean style to Western R&B) and alternative music have always had a huge following and support among Koreans, and actually idol music is considered as a separate genre So in Korea, if you want to pursue music, write your own stuff, and exercise your creative capabilities, you can do that without signing slave contracts. If you go to hongdae at night you'll find it bursting with buskers and garage bands, a handful of which get famous, get signed by a label much like that of the West, and release music readily available to Korean people. Same process with hiphop artists who release their own mixtape and perform in underground concerts. A lot of non-idol singers climb to the top of the charts too.

Gameguru : I got into an argument with a girl in my class about this. I tried to explain that K-pop is insanely abusive to the idols, but she claimed that obviously the idols enjoy it because they keep signing contracts(?????). It's ridiculous, and it makes me sick.

Zahid Alvarez : For all the people saying they want to give up kpop now because of it's exploitive side, I got news for ya'. There's no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism

Cole : K-Pop is the absolute latest-stage capitalism

Makie : North Korea: Concetration camps, 16 legal haircuts, isolationism, cult of personality, economic instability. South Korea: No workers rights, brainwashing music, large poverty and homlesness, failed education system, political instability. #restorethegreatjoseon

boi : This is just a criticism of capitalism. I don't see how anyone can view this video and not understand the struggle of the progressive movement and labor movements. This is the life you are choosing by being a capitalist.

Greg Murphy : While working as a teacher in Seoul I was in a foreigner-dominated indie rock show broken up by police. Turned out it was people in the K-pop industry who complained teachers were working as entertainers, technically a breach of our work permits. Funny to think they saw shoegaze as a threat to K-pop but maybe for good reason. I often asked my 7th grade students what music they liked. Those not interested in K-pop thought music, that's music in general, was boring or not for them.

Stasoline : This was an interesting video! One thing you didn't touch on is pop group dynamic, eg the fact that pop groups contain members with different looks and personalities (the nerdy girl, the sporty girl, the sassy girl etc) to maximize the amount of people who will be interested in at least one of the group members.

Rootin for Lenin : Lets not forget in the beginning the *People's Republic of Korea (PRK)* , It's leader Lyuh Woon-hyung was democratically elected leader was then sacked by a US occupation made any peaceful leftist movement turn radical thus being used to massacre leftists in massacres like the Bodo league Massacre where +200,000 people . in 1 month, South Korea killed more people then North Korea has been accused of killing in a 70 year period.

96fps_from_mars : Your have a theme of powerful, perhaps accusatory, final lines. Their impact is heightened when the video immediately cuts with no endscreen. The message of the video is not to subscribe, like, or anything, it's entirely devoted to the topic it covers.

H GOD : Vaporwave is the anti thesis of k pop

Howard Fisher : This is out of order.. Korean anarchist bands and artists need to tear this shit down.... and be careful they don't get coopted back in to the system!

Celebrimbor Blue : 12:22 this is like a start of a YA dystopia novel.

Mike Gonzales : Honestly an individual's creative work can be quite garbage and there are many examples of it in America. I like how there's a system to make sure everything works, but it's just too oppressive for the performers. Surely they can afford to pay them more especially the popular ones. The fact that they are have to pay back their lessons is utterly ridiculous and its just there to control them. Their schedules are also ridiculous and I actually believe it is hindering their performance ability rather than improve. And finally the relationship thing shouldn't be the companies business at all. I believe these things also lead to the depressed life Jonghyun had which eventually lead him to kill himself. As sad as it is, its even sadder that nobody understands that, not even his fans and they just get emotional for a day then pass off his death like it was just a fluke.

Evenstar : As a Korean, this is so spot on. I used to be a huge SNSD fan in my high school years, but now I can't really get into Kpop since I learned how manufactured everything is. And it's not just Kpop. It's a problem with the larger Korean society.

Daira Fernandez : I would love to hear your take on BTS having such unprecedented success while breaking so many of the norms inside this industry. Do you think they're a sign of a possible change in paradigm or just a slight deviation from the norm?

AmericanNohbuddy ™ : It's like Disney but worse

Zenymn : Well, hold on, Korea was a kingdom before the us came. It has a history.

Carol Holmes : This situation is quite similar to the "Motown machine" and various other spin offs. Every aspect of a performer's life was controlled by the parent, song distribution, narratives for interviews, clothing... anecdotes surround the Supremes and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On...which received push back because it was too political and did not follow the feel-good company line or mantra.

서보국 : i think you miss some of background. imo,it is not because of capitalism rather it was market itself. although in dictatorship there was a censorship, but still there were variety of genre out there. because people buying album for listen their music. however after internet was popularized in korea, people didn’t buy music anymore. so korean entertainments today no longer earn their money with their album profit, they rather make idol and make people obsessed with them, so earn their money with concerts, idol goods, broadcast..etc. in conclusion i agreed with todays kpop has problem, but if we have bigger music market maybe kpop is very different from today.