K-pop stars in training work for 18 hours a day and are encouraged to starve themselves

A former K-pop trainee has revealed the gruelling experience she endured at a South Korean entertainment company.

Euodias, who is half Korean and half Chinese, moved from her home in England to South Korea to train for two years to become a K-pop star.

In a new op-ed for BBC News, Eudioas has described how her and her fellow trainees were encouraged to starve themselves, forced to sleep on wooden floors, and after 18-hour days of work would often pass out from exhaustion.

She also revealed trainees were kept away from their parents and how her gay colleagues were ostracised.

“Weight was the constant obsession of everyone there,” wrote Euodias. “Everyone was required to be no heavier than 47kg (7st 6lb or 104lb) regardless of their age or height.”

She said trainees were weighed weekly and if they were deemed to be too heavy, their food would be rationed.

“Sometimes they would even take away entire meals and those ‘overweight’ trainees would just be given water,” wrote Euodias.

“Starving yourself was really normalised,” she added, explaining that she fainted twice. “Some trainees were anorexic or bulimic, and many of the girls didn’t have periods.

“It was common to pass out from exhaustion. Often we had to help carry unconscious trainees back to the dorms.”

Euodias explained that trainees “would sleep together in a huge room and had to make do with mats on a wooden floor” and would often be up dancing and learning from 5am until 11pm.

Describing the controlling nature of the training centre, she said: “Trainees were all supposed to act straight even if they weren’t. Anybody who appeared to be openly gay was ostracised by the company… If parents wanted to visit they had to get approval in advance. Relatives who turned up without notice were turned away.”

Euodias eventually quit after being selected for a girl band and has now forged a career as a YouTuber.

The deaths of numerous K-pop stars in their 20s in the past year has shone a spotlight on the pressures that they are under. In 2019, the hugely successful K-pop boy band BTS had a month-long hiatus, with their management saying: “[The break] will provide them with a chance to enjoy the ordinary lives of young people in their 20s, albeit briefly.”

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