Back in August of 2017, Gayoung — one of the founding members of Stellar (often stylized in all capital letters) — chose not to renew her contract with her agency and label, The Entertainment Pascal.
Her leaving at the same time as the other remaining founding member of Stellar, Jeonyul, were the initial foreshadows Stellar was probably going to disband. That is exactly what happened six months later when Minhee and Hyoeun chose not to renew either.
Despite the following and support Stellar had, it was evident there was a lot going on behind-the-scenes that showed the members were not fully happy. It is true they were happy to perform and they were happy the fans had their backs, but there were other underlying issues that seemed off.
Now after more than a year, Gayoung gave an interview on being a K-pop idol in an exclusive interview with Insight. Not only does she reveal the harsh realities one has to face working as a K-pop idol, but she also provides advice to people who dream to become K-pop idols too.
Selling your soul to be a K-pop idol
When Stellar first started, they were utilizing a concept that was close to cute. They also received a lot of attention because they were being produced by Eric of popular SM Entertainment boy band Shinhwa.
Unfortunately, they did not do well for three to four years. When they made the jump to The Entertainment Pascal, that is when things changed for them. That is also the time they started using the infamous “sexy concept” they are notoriously known for.
According to Gayoung, she along with the rest of Stellar were not ready for the sexy concept. As a matter of fact, they did not really want to do such a concept in the first place, but they needed to do something “just to survive.”
In another interview, they revealed if the sexy concept in Marionette did not work, they’d think about disbanding. At the time, fans are thankful it was successful, but fans did not know the double-edged sword Stellar was dealing with.
Gayoung talked about how The Entertainment Pascal asked one of the members (which many believe is Minhee) to “weakly leak the milk while drinking it.”
The member followed orders but she did not expect them to cut the footage to show it in such a sexual manner. Reportedly, Gayoung was shocked and the editing had negative effects on the member who performed the deed.
“I was very shocked. The member who drank the milk was 20 years old at the time. She couldn’t drink white milk since then due to shock. She was hurt. We really did not know it was like that [during filming].”
It only got worse for Stellar since Marionette. Their next sexy concept comeback Vibrato was far more lewd. When they showed up on set, they were told to wear provocative clothing, clothes that were too revealing to wear for dancing.
The Entertainment Pascal wore them down with threats and eventually they did it. After five cuts, it was evident Stellar knew the clothing was too provocative yet images from those dances were used on the album.
The examples of idol abuse above are probably just a few of the horrors Stellar members had to suffer. There probably was a lot more they had to deal with thus why none of the primary members had a second thought re-signing with The Entertainment Pascal.
Reportedly, the label did not even care much about their talents’ feelings, only their bottom line. And when their authority was challenged, Gayoung said they would resort yet again to threats.
“When we told them, ‘We don’t want to do this,’ they said, ‘You better think of the contract with the agency.’ At a young age, we were scared of that. We were afraid that we would have to pay the violation fee.”
Freedom from the K-pop Industry
Gayoung chose not to re-sign with The Entertainment Pascal back in August of 2017, as mentioned earlier on in the article. She is now trying to pursue a career in acting. She is also the manager of her own cafe in Itaewon, South Korea called Hartogela.
As for her time as a K-pop idol for Stellar, it is a time she truly wants to forget as in she doesn’t “want to go back.” As for those who are interested in becoming a K-pop idol, she provided one last bit of advice for them.
“If you are trying out of curiosity and because the idol world seems fabulous, I want to say don’t do it. If it’s your dream then work hard for it. If you did work hard but it didn’t turn out well, don’t think of it as a ‘failure.’ Just find a path that suits you better.”
For readers interested in listening to the entire interview Gayoung had with Insight, it is attached below. English captions are provided for those who do not understand Korean.