Fans have many burning questions about the K-Pop industry, and nobody knows it better than the idols themselves. Here are 4 questions answered and secrets revealed by former idols.

1. Chart manipulation businesses

G.O. of MBLAQ revealed that there are entire businesses dedicated to raising groups up and holding others back. They do it by blocking Korea’s domestic traffic servers and controlling them from abroad.

Back in 2010, when rumors of chart manipulation were swirling through the music industry, “chart manipulators” visited G.O.’s agency and offered to make him No.1, for a price.

If you pay us $375,000 USD, we’ll rank your singer no.1 on the charts for one month.

ㅡ Chart manipulators

After G.O.’s agency rejected the offer, G.O found out about a similar incident happening to 2 PM. 

At the time, we were sharing a waiting room with 2PM and one of the members told me, ‘Hey G.O. guess what? A person came to our company and said he would manipulate charts for us for a month if we spend $500,000~$600,000 USD.’

ㅡ G.O.

2. Fan cams

Have you ever wondered how an idol makes such flawless eye contact with their fan cams? There are thousands of fans filming at a concert, so how do they know where to look? Tina, a former member of Blady, shared the secret on her Youtube channel, soobeanie_.

tina blady

Fan cam operators get idols’ attention by using an electronic sign with the idol’s name on it. Since timing is crucial, fansites often flash their sign at the beginning of the show, to catch an idol’s attention before the singing and dancing begins.

3. Dating at ISAC

Tina (now Soobin) also revealed details about idols dating at the Idol Star Athletics Championships. She said that some idols actually give away their relationships by trying to hide it during filming.

For example, when a member of Blady was dating a male idol, the two tried not to interact at all, but the way they kept sneaking glances at each other made it obvious to Soobin that they were dating.

4. The reasons why groups disband

Former MADTOWN member H.O and former idol Siwan from TwiLight shared similar behind the scenes details about groups disbanding.

It all comes down to debt. Before a group debuts, they rack up huge costs for music production, clothing, etc, that make it extremely difficult to profit off of their music.

Agencies charge the debuting group for everything from music production, video production, album production to clothing and dining costs. It costs a minimum 500 million KRW (approx. $500K USD) to produce a group. If there are seven members, each member would owe around $70,000 as soon as they debut. The members will start profiting only after the debt has been paid off.

— H.O

“Only after the group has paid off all the agency’s investment costs, the agency and the group members can make a profit,” Siwan said. “Even the rookiest groups get paid at least $3,000 to perform somewhere. So to pay off $500K, the group has to endure a lethal schedule.”

If a group doesn’t succeed quickly enough to repay their debut debts and start bringing in money, they will most likely disband.

Another former idol, MBLAQ’s Mir, cites money as the most common reason for groups’ disbanding. Despite what some people believe, it’s rarely because of teamwork or member dynamics.

When groups break up, people think it’s because the members don’t get along anymore. I don’t think that’s ever the case. I mean, MBLAQ members were super close. And if you watch shows that some of these teams do as a group, you can tell that everyone gets along fine and they’re not acting that out.

— Mir