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Health problems long plague overloaded K-pop girl groups

Updated: 2024-07-09 09:54
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Members of South Korean K-pop girl group aespa gesture as they pose during a media showcase in Seoul on May 27. ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP

An increasing number of female K-pop artists are taking time off due to injuries and health problems, caused by their strict diets and schedules that leave little time for sleep.

Woonhee of entertainment group Belift Lab's rookie girl group Illit halted activities due to a recent foot injury. Her agency told online fans that while the singer showed a strong desire to participate in all of the group's musical activities, her recovery is its top priority and her schedule will be run flexibly.

But Woonhee was very soon up on the stage of the Weverse Con Festival in Incheon, where she sang while sitting on a chair.

Ning Ning of aespa, a K-pop girl group, has also pulled out of a concert due to dehydration and exhaustion. Entertainment agency SM Entertainment announced on the morning of the June 2 concert that she would be unable to perform later that day, posting, "Ning Ning was dehydrated and exhausted during a rehearsal and immediately went to the hospital, where she was told that she needed to rest and stabilize".

The intense dieting and arduous training of K-pop girls have been cited as likely culprits for the health issues.

"Maintaining good health while working as a female K-pop idol is almost impossible, especially if you have just debuted. You have to maintain your weight at under 47 kilograms and the manager is always checking your diet," a former K-pop girl group member who wished to remain anonymous said.

"Popular girl groups sleep less than five hours when they are on a promotion campaign. This was during my time 10 years ago and I am sure K-pop groups these days are even busier due to overseas schedules," she said.

The pressure to make money and gain fans' attention also plays a crucial part in idols' health problems.

"K-pop bands from small agencies are under intense pressure to generate profit instantly from the moment of their debut... if they don't become successful with their debut album, there is no chance for a second one," a South Korean entertainment company official said.

"They have to participate in every musical activity or festival event to make money and promote themselves while they can," the official said.

"Companies tell them to rest after they succeed."


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