In the cutthroat industry of K-pop, it’s unfortunately not always surprising to hear about K-pop idols being overworked or even mistreated. But there are some cases where specific members of groups seem to be, intentionally or not, excluded and treated especially badly by their own companies or by brands.
From Aespa’s Giselle to Blackpink’s Lisa, here are five K-pop idols who seem to have suffered from unfair treatment during their time in the spotlight …
1. Aespa’s Giselle
Aespa’s Giselle often seems to get excluded from group activities. According to Koreaboo, fans went into an uproar last year when Korean media outlets blurred out Giselle’s face from group photos – and it seems her apparent mistreatment has only continued. Cosmetics brand Club Clio Japan and fashion label MLB Korea both faced criticism when they neglected to upload pictures of Giselle featuring in their recent ad campaigns, even though all other members’ photos had been uploaded to the companies’ social media account and website, respectively. MLB Korea also misspelled the rapper’s name, writing “Gieselle” instead of Giselle on its website.
Luxury brand Chopard came under fire as well, as its 30-second ad featuring the four-member group only had Giselle on screen for one second.
SM Entertainment didn’t escape fans’ scrutiny either. When each member announced their own Spotify playlist in early September, fans noticed that only Giselle’s seemed to be missing in the group’s Spotify profile. Later, Giselle mentioned that she herself had to request her playlist to be included, frustrating fans who felt the company was neglecting her.
Whether intentional or not, Giselle certainly seems to be excluded from group promos fairly often. Fans got several hashtags trending on Twitter in response, like #GiselleDeservesBetter and #TreatGiselleFairly.
2. Blackpink’s Lisa
Fans have criticised YG Entertainment for excluding and mistreating Lisa for years. From getting the worst outfits, in fans’ opinion, to not being allowed to attend events, she seems to have had the worst luck out of her members. When she was promoting her solo work, Lisa only got three stage performances in Korea, which all felt rushed, while bandmate Rosé promoted hers for up to two months, per Kbizoom.
3. Ive’s Liz
Though Liz’s case might not be as obvious, fans are frustrated at her being left out too. This month, all of Ive’s members – except Liz – were invited to solo photoshoots: Wonyoung and Leeseo for Marie Claire, Yujin for W Korea, Rei for Arena Homme and Gaeul for Elle. Fans quickly noticed that only Liz wasn’t invited. It may just be a coincidence on its own, but most of fans’ anger came from the suspicion that this was due to Liz’s recent weight gain, per Kbizoom.
Though certainly nothing drastic (or even really worthy of criticism), the singer put on a bit of weight between this comeback and the last. Fans rightfully shut down hateful comments but, knowing the immense pressure for idols to maintain a certain figure, couldn’t help but wonder if Liz’s exclusion was because of this. The suspicions were only heightened by the fact that Liz had actively participated in shoots prior to her weight gain – such as one for W Korea in May.
4. NCT’s Yuta
SM Entertainment is no stranger to negative accusations, as fans have demanded better treatment for NCT’s Yuta as well. The Japanese singer has been very active this year particularly back at home, participating in magazine shoots, luxury brand collaborations and even making his acting debut in the movie High & Low The Worst X earlier this month.
Despite this, SM Entertainment has made no moves to promote his activities, despite other members’ solo work being promoted heavily on NCT’s Instagram, for instance, per Starbiz. Not only that, in previous years, fans have taken to social media to point out how Yuta is sometimes being the only member without a solo facecam, according to the same source. Understandably, fans are hoping to see more of him with NCT 127’s recent comeback.
5. Loona’s Vivi
There have been accusations of Vivi being unfairly treated by her company for years. The Hong Kong-born member has always seemed to get noticeably less coverage. This has certainly not gone unnoticed by fans, who have even made videos on YouTube comparing her lack of lines and screen time to her bandmates’.