Now, as all Kpop fans know, the world of Kpop is tightly controlled and manufactured to have the “best possible results”. Entertainment companies focus on creating a perfectly polished image in their hopes of getting to and staying on the top of Korean Entertainment. This is a fairly successful model, but there are other avenues for success for the select few. I look at Busker Busker, who started out on the Kpop machine route and wrenched themselves out of the grasp of controlling Entertainment companies and did things their own way. They undoubtedly have just as much influence as the major idol bands as they wrecked the billboards when they released their most recent album. For their story, I love to read the story written here: http://noisey.vice.com/blog/great-white-hope-how-bradley-ray-moore-accidentally-conquered-k-pop. It’s focused on Bradley Moore, the American drummer from Busker Busker, which gives it a biased feel in terms of culture, but because of this it doesn’t try to justify the Kpop machine, which makes me feel like it ends up being more honest.
Anyway, the reason I thought to write this post is because I’m a fan of Simon and Martina from Eat Your Kimchi and they were at the Youtube Music Awards backstage in Seoul. It was their job to do quick impromptu interviews with the Kpop stars performing there. Sistar, MissA and a Youtube performer from Korea (I’m having trouble finding his name so if anyone could tell me that would be awesome) that’s worked with GDragon and had a live performance with Hyorin from Sistar. One of the other main features of this show was that Shinee was supposed to do a long formal sit down interview and it would be posted several days after the Youtube event to keep the buzz up about the performances. Nasties (EYK fans) were super psyched about this interview, and I imagine many international Shawols would have been really happy that there were questions by international fans translated into English.
The interview we got, however, was about 2 minutes long and while it was awesome to see Key touch Martina’s hair and Jonghyun talk about how he was going to sneak off for 3 months and not tell anyone, it doesn’t compare at all to their other interviews. I mean UKISS has a 9 minute informal backstage interview, where they were just talking and relaxed. Simon and Martina explained their issues with the interview in their blog post here: http://www.eatyourkimchi.com/shinee-interview/. This blog post has the interview that they talk about imbedded, so I won’t post an additional link.
They talked about how they had planned and worked with the people running the Youtube event as well as Shinee’s managers. How they had them agree to the planned format and the questions ahead of time. How they made time in their tent after Shinee couldn’t make the sit down interview backstage and how they had to last minute change all of the requested questions to ask because Shinee’s managers changed their minds. After all this, Simon and Martina had a short clip ready about 4-5 days after the Youtube awards, all translated and full of rainbows. They sent a copy of the video to the PR staff, not for approval but just to check to make sure that a particular shot wasn’t bad or a response from someone put words into someone’s mouth or things like that. It was for minor changes. I will now remind you that the managers agreed to the video, the questions [twice, because they changed their minds], the location and were even present for the video filming. The PR staff said no don’t put it up. It’s filmed in a tent and it looks like it’s backstage. Obviously that didn’t fly with S&M after the video was agreed upon. EYK even offered to reschedule and refilm the interview using EYK’s or SM’s studio, but they still refused. Since they refused to reschedule, and since SM no longer has legal grounds after the agreement to film said interview and going through all the approval process during the interview, they posted the interview up and let all of us know what took them 2 weeks to get it out.
The thing is, SM, and arguably all of Kpop is extremely concerned about image. I’m betting that the real reason is that they did a standing interview and Martina is about 5’8″. She’s not a small girl that makes their idols look like tall lanky people. I assume it’s also because Shinee visibly looks tired. Having a crazy schedule is tough and it doesn’t help that it was in a tent. But their PR people screwed up by thinking that S&M weren’t going to talk about their experience. EYK has almost 300k facebook fans, they have almost 450k subscribers on their main Youtube account (and they have 3 total), a twitter, tumblr, blog and a bunch of Kpop fans that watch their videos and call themselves Nasties like Shinee’s fans call themselves Shawols. And Nasties have Kpop friends. And blogs. Nasties also don’t appreciate when the EYK staff is (according to EYK at least) laughed at while trying to explain the situation.
This isn’t like the Allkpop scandal with Ailee that will ruin the credibility of the company. I feel that it is instead, similar to the moniker “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” but instead, replace the word fool with douchebag. SM has had contract scandals before and their management style has seemed pretty cold, but getting a short glimpse into what PR looks like in the biggest Kpop company just confirms that I would never want to be a Kpop star and I hope that all the other entertainment companies treat their stars and the people surrounding them better than SM do.