When the weight of fame becomes too much to bear, who’s there to support struggling idols? In an episode of YouTube‘s new original documentary series, K-Pop Evolution, former Wonder Girls member HA:TFELT (Yeeun) opened up about the times she felt like giving up on life and the lack of support for those like her.
Debuting in Wonder Girls back in 2007, HA:TFELT has been in the K-Pop industry for 14 years and counting. These days, she’s a successful solo artist, releasing her first studio album (1719) back in April last year. Of course, success isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
Opening up about her mental health in K-Pop Evolution, HA:TFELT revealed she received therapy for the course of around a year. Many other artists have recently opened up about counseling, from former KARA‘s Seungyeon to Chungha. “There were many times when I felt like giving up on life,” HA:TFELT bravely shared.
She went on to recall a popular saying: “The king who wears the crown must bear its weight“. Once recited by Lee Min Ho‘s character Kim Tan in the SBS K-Drama The Heirs, the quote means that those who enjoy success must also deal with the burdens that come along with it. “If you can’t bear the weight though,” HA:TFELT questioned, “What happens then?”
For idols, fame and money often comes along with intense public scrutiny, hate comments, a lack of privacy, an inability to have public relationships, and so on. The soloist went on to say she believes that society forces the burden of the metaphorical crown on those who can’t bear the harsh downsides—and that no one is there to help when idols are “crushed“.
It seems like this society tries to force the crown upon those who can’t bear it to the point where they’re crushed under the weight and left alone to suffer.
“It makes me quite angry, to be honest,” HA:TFELT admitted, adding that there’s no system to protect idols and aspiring stars who go through such traumas. Last month, the former Wonder Girls star revealed that people viewed her as a “product” as an idol, and that her commercial value was seen as her only worth.
As an idol, it hurt me the most when someone said, “You’re a product.” My worth and existence just meant my commercial value. That commercial value was me. I couldn’t distinguish between the two, and that made it hard for me to love myself.