A North Korean website has claimed that some K-pop artistes are being treated like slaves by large companies and forced to lead miserable lives.
The claim was made by the propaganda site Arirang-Meari on March 13, under an article titled "South Korean youth singers owned by large companies forced to lead miserable lives."
BTS and Blackpink singled out as examples
Both BTS and Blackpink were singled out as examples of how the majority of K-pop artistes were youth singers who had signed exclusive contracts with companies such as SM Entertainment at early ages and received education to become pop stars.
Arirang-Meari further alleged that the artistes were isolated from the outside world and made to endure harsh training with only two to three hours of sleep per day.
In addition, the artistes must endure "inhumane" humiliation and treatment, with female youth singers "forced to sexually please politicians and industrialists".
In likening their conditions to a prison, the site added that many of them suffer from "mental and physical pains", with some even committing suicide.
The article then concluded by alleging that many South Korean and Western companies have since condemned such companies and blamed the presidents of said firms as evil and corrupted.
Article appears to be part of North Korea's attempt to prevent K-pop from spreading among citizens
According to South Korean media NK Economy, the report appears to be part of an attempt by the state to stymie the popularity of K-pop among its own citizens.
The outlet further noted that the site had "magnified" one aspect of the current problems in training and managing South Korean K-pop artistes, so as criticise the entire phenomenon.
Arirang-Meari's mention of SM entertainment is also significant given that the company sent one of the K-Pop groups under its management, Red Velvet, to North Korea, as part of South Korea's peace-initiative with the North in 2018.
Music has been part of the political tussle between the Koreas
CNN further reported that the article came in the wake of an announcement by North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un, in February, for a more "intensified struggle against the anti-socialist and non-socialist practices than ever before."
North Korea also passed a new piece of legislature in December 2020 which requires citizens and organisations to prevent the spread of "anti-socialist ideology", a term understood as referring to content that has not been approved by the North Korean government.
Apart from sending Red Velvet to North Korea for a performance in 2018, South Korea has also blasted K-pop music over the border, such as in the wake of a nuclear test carried out by the north in 2016.
Defectors from North Korea have stated that North Korean citizens who are caught consuming foreign content, particularly those from the U.S. and South Korea, often face severe punishment.
Top image collage from BTS and Blackpink Facebook