South Korean musician RM, also a member of the boyband BTS, has opened up about K-pop’s pursuit of perfection and how its viewed in the West.
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On a recent trip to Spain, RM took the time to speak with Spanish newspaper El País, where he was asked about whether the pursuit of youth, perfection and overachievement in K-pop is characteristic of Korean culture as a whole.
“In the West, people just don’t get it,” RM replied. “Korea is a country that has been invaded, razed to the ground, torn in two. Just 70 years ago, there was nothing. We were getting aid from the IMF and the UN.”
RM then noted how in recent years “the whole world is looking at Korea… because people try so fucking hard to better themselves.”
“You are in France or the UK, countries that have been colonizing others for centuries, and you come to me with, ‘oh God, you put so much pressure on yourselves; life in Korea is so stressful’,” he continued. “Well, yes, That’s how you get things done. And it’s part of what makes K-pop so appealing.”
However, the K-pop star also admitted that there’s a “dark side” that comes along with that. “Anything that happens too fast and too intensely has side effects,” he said.
RM also touched on K-pop’s training system, saying that it is “in part” dehumanising. Yet, he also noted how the system has improved over time “in terms of contracts, money, education; now there are teachers, counselors, psychologists.”
RM’s comments defending the K-pop industry to El País have been met positively by South Koreans and international fans alike, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.
Last week, RM spoke to Spanish news agency EFE about how he’s trying to get to know himself again since the group is currently on an extended break. Meanwhile, HYBE boss Bang Si-hyuk says plans for the boyband to reunite in 2025 is not set in stone.