The message makes even more sense in the sphere of South Korea, which not only boasts one of the world’s largest-economies, but is also the hardest-working nation in the world, with the most working hours of any industrialized country. Working from 8am to 9pm, 6 days a week is not uncommon, with most workers only afforded 10 vacation days per year. With so little time available for a personal life, it’s no wonder that South Korea also has the second-highest suicide rates on the planet.
Sunny Hill’s “The Grasshopper Song” is much more than a children’s fable turned into a K-Pop song espousing the virtues of individuality and self-expression like so many countless factory-line top forty tracks in the past two years have done — it’s a shockingly original commentary on South Korean society set to a soundtrack of whimsical K-Pop, and to use an old fable to make this kind of statement is rather ingenious.
Sunny Hill ended promotions for “The Grasshopper Song” earlier this year, but I was reminded of this review on Saturday night, after the op-ed ”Is T-ara’s member change a way for Kim Kwang Soo to punish T-ara?”, appeared on allkpop.com. I am not a fan of T-ara and therefore was not really privy to the details of their history or their entertainment company. That being sad, the sad reality of the k-pop industry is that the t the mistreatment the op-ed details is generally the norm in the k-pop industry, rather than the exception, especially with girl groups.
Now, while I do not mean to condone this mistreatment, it needs to be said that is partly due to, and obviously a flaw, of Korean culture. Simply getting out of their contract and leaving their current entertainment country, as many commenters have pointed out, is complicated. The closest example that exists for this sort of situation would be KARA’s lawsuit against their entertainment agency, DSP Media, but since that was settled it seems amicably, it is not sure what the ramifications would have been had it not been. Would other entertainment companies have touched them after the lawsuit or would they have been blacklisted? Or would they have set the precedent for other companies to follow? It’s not necessarily clear, although I am leaning towards the latter.
As I said, to see real change, Korean culture needs to become a culture that denounces such mistreatment, not one that accepts or ignores it.
(The op-ed was also posted in the livejournal k-pop community, Omona They didn’t, are especially useful and interesting: [AKP OP-ED] Is T-ara’s member change a way for Kim Kwang Soo to punish T-ara? #Comments Thread)
EDIT: Some producers and entertainment companies have weighed in on the addition of new members to T-ara and member changes in general: Entertainment Producer expresses thoughts on T-ara’s member change
EDIT #2: T-ara has now shared their thoughts on the impending addition of members: T-ara discusses their thoughts on line up change