Unreported World: Inside the K-pop Dream Machine (Channel 4, May 24, 2024)

Unreported World

In this Unreported World episode, airing on Channel 4 on Friday 24 May, Krishnan Guru-Murthy looks into the global phenomenon of Korean Pop, or K-pop, and explores the intensive world of South Korea’s K-pop dance schools and the aspiring idols within them. With an estimated worth of $8 billion and a massive global fanbase of 200 million, K-pop has become a cultural force.

Guru-Murthy enters the intense environment of performing arts academies and schools in Seoul, where the next generation of K-pop idols is being meticulously crafted. He meets 16-year-old Heesu Chung and her classmate Sui, who have dedicated themselves to rigorous training and constant auditioning in the hopes of standing out in an industry with slim odds of success.

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Only 1% of aspirants will achieve mainstream recognition. Guru-Murthy uncovers the demanding training regimens, the pressure to maintain flawless appearances, and the scripting of answers to media questions that these teenagers endure as they are molded into idols.

The episode also examines the darker side of the K-pop industry, revealing the immense pressure that artists can face from fans and the public. Former member of the successful boy band Teen Top, Min Su, shares his experience of quitting the group after facing backlash from fans over his tattoos and smoking. He also explores the tragic suicides of two of his friends in a country with one of the highest suicide rates worldwide, underscoring the mental health challenges that can accompany life in the K-pop spotlight.

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Unreported World: Inside the K-pop Dream Machine airs Friday, May 24, 2024, at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 4.

Isabelle aka Izzy Jacobs is the UK previews specialist at memorabletv.com. Isabelle is particularly drawn to crime dramas, but she also has a not so secret love for all things reality TV. In addition to her work at memorabletv.com, Isabelle is also an avid traveler and a devoted foodie.