Korean pop idol
Korean pop idol, or K-pop idol, is a South Korean musical artist signed under a mainstream entertainment agency. In South Korea, potential idols are commonly cast by agencies via auditions or street casting in order to become trainees.
Hundreds of candidates each day attend the global auditions held by Korean entertainment agencies to perform for the chance of becoming a trainee. Others are street-casted or scouted without auditioning, based on looks or potential talent. Those who successfully pass this audition stage are offered long-term contracts with the entertainment company. There are no age limits to becoming a trainee; thus is not uncommon for trainees, and even debuted idols, to be very young.
The trainee process lasts for an indefinite period of time, ranging from months to years, and usually involves vocal, dance, and language classes while living together with other trainees, sometimes attending school at the same time, although some trainees drop out of school to focus on a career as an idol. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported that the cost of training one member of Girls' Generation under S.M. Entertainment was US$3 million.
The K-pop trainee system was popularised by Lee Soo-man, the founder of S.M. Entertainment, as part of a concept labelled cultural technology. As a unique process, the Korean idol trainee system has been criticised by Western media outlets. There are also negative connotations of idols within independent and underground Korean music scenes.
According to the South Korean National Tax Service, the average annual earnings for a K-pop idol in 2013 were KR₩46.74 million (USD$42,000). This was more than double the 2010 figure of KR₩26.97 million (USD$25,275), a rise attributable to the global spread of Hallyu in recent years.
Some of the highest-earning K-pop idols, for example G-Dragon, receive multimillion-dollar annual incomes in album and concert sales. On June 25, 2015, SBS's "Midnight TV Entertainment" revealed that G-Dragon earned an annual KR₩790 million (USD$710,000) from songwriting royalties alone. Idols can also earn revenues from endorsements, merchandise, corporate sponsorship deals and commercials. According to The Korea Herald, once a K-pop music video attracts more than a million views, it will "generate a meaningful revenue big enough to dole out profits to members of a K-pop group."
Some idols have experienced extreme invasions of privacy from obsessive fans as a result of their career in the public eye. Alleged invasions of idols' private lives include stalking, hidden cameras in idols' dorms, fans attending personal events such as relatives' weddings, and physical assault.
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