Mental health in K-pop is a very sensitive yet important topic that needs to be discussed more. While the glamour and glitz of the industry are mesmerizing to the outside world, it hides many problems behind the sparkling curtain. From eating and sleeping disorders to depression and suicidal thoughts, k-pop idols go through everything, and all alone. Though fans are there to support them, speaking out directly about these issues is highly avoided.
But now, idols aren’t afraid to share their suffering with the world and, most importantly, their fans. While they are now opening up about their mental issues, they do it in their own way, through their music and visuals. Hence, through their music videos, they express their anguish and suffering. Thus, we have compiled a list of music videos by k-pop idols that are the stories of their struggles with their mental well-being.
In his track, “Paranoia”, Kang Daniel speaks about his innermost feelings and the demons he faced. He shows how the pandemic, his hiatus, and many other issues had affected him mentally and how he struggled with them. Through his lines,
In a space without a single light
When the darkness comes
I lay expressionless, again and again
An endless fear, a terrible night
Wasn’t with me back then
But they right here now
he shares how his demons overpowered him mentally and the exhausting fight he had with them and how is now strong enough to share this with people, and how he wishes that this song may bring a sense of relativity to the people who are suffering from the same anguish he did.
Beauty standards are often one of those types of concepts that, honestly, bring more pain than pleasure. People are crushed under the weight of these superficial standards and suffer while reaching them. Korean Beauty standards, especially, are very harsh. Thus, 2NE1, in their “Ugly” video (that’s the title y’all 😅) talks about the exhaustion they have while chasing these beauty standards. Expressed beautifully in these lines,
I think I’m ugly and nobody wants to love me
Just like her, I wanna be pretty
I wanna be pretty
Don’t lie to my face tellin’ me I’m pretty
What people don’t understand is that there is no set “standard” for beauty, because every human has it in their own unique way.
The late Jonghyun from SHINEE, as everyone knows, committed s**cide from his depression and thus, this song gives us a glimpse of how he felt when he was suffering. Loneliness is a depressing feeling, which Jonghyun felt deeply. Hence, through “Lonely” he shows us how k-pop idols often feel alone and sad even when they are amidst crowds because no matter how many people surround them, very few people are WITH them.
The beautifully melancholic lyrics,
If I say that things are hard with a crying face
Will it really get better?
If I cry and say it hurts, who will have a harder time?
Everyone will be fine
complimented with a soulful melody speak the depth of his depression, which we, unfortunately, failed to understand in time and lost a wonderful person like Jonghyun.
Amber Liu is one of those k-pop idols who has always stood out for her uniqueness. Be it negatively or positively, she has always been the talk of the k-pop scene. While she mostly takes it jokingly and gracefully accepts her own charm, she expresses her feelings about the criticism she receives for just being herself. In her song “Borders”, she speaks the about the same through the following lines,
The anger, the cruelty, I deserve it
And I’d do anything to
Be what they call perfect
Then maybe I could find
A place to call my own and belong
But if only I was strong.
1. Whalein 52
Taking the metaphor and inspiration of the 52 Hertz whale which is said to be the loneliest whale in the world, BTS explains how even though they are one of the most popular k-pop idols right now, they do deal with issues such as loneliness. When this song was written, BTS was struggling to make it in the industry and hence, wrote a song that not only every idol, but even a normal citizen going through loneliness resonated with. With lyrics such as,
The world will never know how sad I am
My pain is water and oil that can’t mix
So only above the surface of the water do I
Breathe, and the interest towards me ends
A child in the lonely ocean
I want to make it known too
My value, every day
They aptly express the pain and hurt BTS goes through while working tirelessly as an idol.
Even though many idols are now vocalizing their innermost mental issues, it is also the responsibility of the companies and fellow members/idols to support each other. Fans, too, need to take care of their idols as they may not be able to help them but make sure they do not worsen it. Because, after all, idols are just humans trying to make fellow humans happy.