5 K-dramas That Expose the Dark Secret of Kpop Industry

Vinod Pandey
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The lives of K-pop idols are not always perfect off-stage. Some Past events have revealed some truly horrifying aspects, from outright inhumane treatment to bullying within groups. Because of all of these, filmmakers find the entertainment industry to be a juicy subject. As it happens, these five Korean dramas explore the darker side of our beloved Kpop culture.

5 KDramas That UNVEIL The Dark Kpop Industry

Top 5 KDramas That UNVEIL The Dark Kpop Industry

5. Imitation 

Imitation Adapted from a famous webtoon of the same name, ‘Imitation’ follows the life of idols in the highly competitive Kpop industry. More particularly, it revolves around the rookie girl group Tea Party, the two famous boy groups SHAX and Sparkling, and the established solo artist La Lima. 

Like most Korean dramas, there is romance in the air, but that’s not the sole focus of this outstanding series. With less than 10 episodes screened, ‘Imitation’ already covers a wide range of issues, or more particularly, the challenges involved with being Kpop idols from small companies. 

Suppose you have followed any groups that started out small. In that case, you’d probably know what we are talking about: They are often disregarded on shows, get their screen time heartlessly cut off, reside in cramped dorms with terrible conditions, practice in tiny basement rooms… the list goes on. 

All of these are accurately portrayed in ‘Imitation’, as the female lead Maha struggles on her path to stardom. Moreover, the series also showed just how toxic the industry is: how suicide is treated as a mere inconvenience, how Kpop fandoms are terribly controlling, and the tricks that unknown idols have to adopt to get any meager recognition. 

For Kpop fans, ‘Imitation’ may hit a bit too close to home, with actual idols from ATEEZ (read as A-tease), SF9, and T-ARA playing major roles. Nevertheless, it is a story of zero to hero where people fight for their passion and dream, at the same time overcoming obstacles. So, if you are interested in a coming-of-age story with a sprinkle of Kpop elements, give ‘Imitation’ a try. 

4. Dream High 

While also covering many issues of the Kpop industry, ‘Dream High’ digresses from ‘Imitation’ in that it focuses on trainees rather than debuted idols. In ‘Dream High’, we are going to follow the musical journey of students in Kirin Arts High School, and at the same time get to know their friendships, rivalries, loves, and motivations. 

Becoming a Kpop idol is no easy job, and ‘Dream High’ sure has proven this true: you have to treat your friends as rivals, endure strict and harsh training regimes, and come face to face with entertainment companies and the media - the nemesis of all public figures. This is very much a reflection of the real world, where many idols have been abused and mistreated by their own companies. 

Meanwhile, the media also contributes to ruining celebrities’ careers and mental health via basically stalking and spreading baseless information about them. It can be said that ‘Dream High’ has listed out both the perks and bottoms of the entertainment world, painting quite a balanced picture. 

Each character has their own hardships and stories to tell, and the series’s positive message in the end has marked it as watch-worthy. This classic drama series is a perfect choice for those with a great soundtrack, an all-star cast, many cameos of famous singers, and of course, a brilliant storyline. 

3. Entertainer 

Instead of Kpop idols, ‘Entertainer’ is shifting our focus onto their managers' lives. Following the steps of the male lead Shin Suk Ho (played by the legendary actor Ji Sung), we get to know the dirty schemes of the entertainment industry, as well as the endless problems that come with them. 

Right off the bat, there are revelations of various shady deals: the main character is shown changing song credits, manipulating digital song charts, and controlling his idols’ love life. But worry not, he soon faced consequences for these actions and set out to redeem himself as the series progressed. 

‘Entertainer’ may not be as realistic as other series on the list, but it did embrace a trope that all Kpop fans love and adore - the found family. In the show, we get to see strangers bonding over their mutual musical dreams, forming a rag-tag band, having fun together, and growing to become as tight as brothers. 

It was just refreshing to watch a much brighter version of the entertainment industry - where all you need is determination and a dream, regardless of your background and past. And for all the romantics, there is indeed a budding love in the show: It’s the classic enemies-to-lovers trope that we can’t get enough of. 

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2. The Producers 

Have your idols been banned from a music show? Is their screen time cut off in a variety show? Have they been wrongfully edited to look harsh and mean? If yes, you’d probably want to give ‘The Producers’ a watch, for this series focuses on television PDs - the exact people behind these scenes. 

And even if you're not a Kpop fan, the series is still going to provide you with a whole lot of knowledge regarding the entertainment industry and Korean culture. You will see references to Korea’s most famous variety shows and how they are made, spot popular songs and dances, and even find cameos from famous singers and actors. 

A plotline surrounding Cindy, one of the main characters, also reveals the multiple hardships involved in an idol’s life. To achieve her dream, Cindy had to give up on all her relationships and ended up not having a single friend in adulthood. 

She had to eat like a bird, work herself to the bone, watch her every move, and for her whole life, follow every order from her company. And don’t forget the many dirty tricks that companies do to make their idols the best, from creating scandals to making underhanded deals. 

But despite all the drama, ‘The Producers’ is a moving story about love and friendships. It shows the human side of the harsh entertainment industry and delivers it in good humor. Don’t miss out on this gem full of moving quotes and famous actors. 

1. Top Management 

Take a look at all those episode titles, and you can probably tell what this series is about. True to the names which are all familiar Kpop songs, ‘Top Management’ is about the rocky career of an idol group called SOUL - played by four handsome faces, including famous Kpop idol Cha Eun Woo. 

Supporting the group is the female lead Eun Sung, who can see the future and often uses her abilities for the best of her idols. As with many K-dramas, there is a love triangle, and the show is hectic, fun, and dramatic. But that’s not all there is. 

Eun Sung was actually a former idol trainee, who had to quit her dream due to being ‘evil edited’ on a survival show. In particular, her words and scenes were cut off to look like she was dissing her competitors, while she was actually just talking about the cockroaches in their living spaces. SOUL did not fare better, either. 

The group was terribly mistreated by people in the industry, showing just how harsh it is as an idol in Korea. With its various references and fact-spitting, ‘Top Management’ directly mocks the Kpop industry, yet at the same time brings a fresh breath of air with its fantasy elements. 

Wrapping Up

So, why hesitate to give it a watch? You won’t be disappointed... And that’s today’s list! Did you enjoy any of these dramas? Are there any other Korean dramas about idols that we forgot to mention? Just comment down below!


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