With the recent release of Rap Monster’s new song, “Always”, fans are once again thrown into the light of knowledge about what really goes on in the mind of an idol. Some question the gravity of lyrics like, “…[I] wished that I was dead. I wish someone killed me” and claim that his song is just a ploy to gain ‘sympathetic fans’. Others are truly concerned about the leader of BTS, and hope that he overcomes whatever inner turmoil he is facing. Regardless of which is correct, it cannot be denied that depression among Korean artists has now become a recurring theme in the KPop industry.
Mental illness is a topic that has been danced within the Hallyu community for a few years now. It is, after all, the basis for popular dramas like Kill Me, Heal Me and It’s Okay, That’s Love; both of which show the struggles and sometimes heroic efforts involved in dealing with severe mental illness. But topics like depression and suicide are rarely covered in KPop. Why is that? Certainly being under constant pressure to please during trainee and idol years has to take a toll on artists.
However, it wasn’t until August of 2016 when the stark reality of an idol’s mentality was laid out plainly in Suga’s mix tape “AGUST D”. Two of the tracks on his mix tape (“The Last” and “So Far Away”) sometimes makes me wonder how he is still with us today. How could he have possibly pushed through and decided to live instead of die? The pain and anxiety is ultra apparent in “So Far Away” when he raps “I’m scared to open my eyes everyday and start breathing”; a feeling which I’m sure people of all ages around the world can relate to.
For the first time, artists are beginning to truly expose themselves to us. They’re letting us know that they bleed the same blood we do; if they are hit, they bruise as well. Yet for some idols, the cry of pain is not heard soon enough. For former WINNER member Tae-Hyun, this was unfortunately the case. According to YG Entertainment, Tae-Hyun was unable to keep up with the necessary duties of being an idol owing to his mental health issues (which had been present since childhood).
Hopefully, with the release of these songs, the ball will start rolling and artists will begin to feel more comfortable with expressing their honest, raw emotions. As fans, we are constantly worried about the health of our idols, and only wish them the best. The fact that topics such as depression, anxiety, and suicide are being sung about in KPop is already a huge step forward. All the artists need now are the baby steps to help them get better.