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[INFO][The Korea Times] Why Japanese idol trainees lag behind Koreans

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Why Japanese idol trainees lag behind Koreans

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Japanese idol trainees arrive at Mnet headquarters in Seoul last month for the music show "Produce 48." Dozens of aspiring singers from Korea and Japan compete on the reality show to make the cut for a 12-member girl group that will be formed at the end of the show.

Music show gives sneak peek into Japanese show biz

By Park Jin-hai

"Produce 48," cable network Mnet's third season of popular idol survival show "Produce 101," has hit the air.

Unlike the previous two versions where audiences voted for girl band and boy band members, this season, which premiered on June 15, brought in Japanese contestants as well as Korean idol trainees to ultimately make a girl band ― consisting of the final 12 ― which will perform in both Korea and Japan.

When the show was unveiled, Korean audiences were surprised as they saw a wide gap between Korean and Japanese trainees' level of performances. Compared to the Koreans who were selectively chosen, the Japanese performers looked like amateurs.

In the initial evaluation, Japanese contestants including Japan's top-ranked idol group AKB48's active members with years of professional experience made performances that did not meet viewers expectations by a large margin and have received C ratings at best.

Bae Yoon-jung, a dance trainer and panel member, known for biting remarks, asked "How did you debut? I'm asking this because I'm curious… You cannot perform on stage the way you just did."

Sakura Miyawaki, who had been a lead singer and dancer of AKB48 multiple times, said after the initial evaluation, "I'm vexed to know the reality that Korean idols do well and gain recognition in Japan, but Japanese idols once we step off our home ground cannot get such recognition." Other Japanese trainees said that Korean trainees are more like "artists."

Culture makes difference

Experts say the wide gap between Korean and Japanese trainees may stem from the different cultural climates of the two countries.

Ha Jae-keun, a culture critic, says different music markets and consumers' expectations in each market make the difference.

"In Japan, idols take a different place from artists, and skills are only expected from artists. Japanese fans expect cuteness and loveliness from idols instead. But, in Korea, viewers don't give leniency to idol groups and they are challenged to compete against global idols, which has made talent agencies put those wannabe-idols under rigorous trainings to meet such high standards," said Ha.

Japanese idols, whose main task is to please fans, develop and improve skills after their debut as they're interacting with fans, while Korean idols can only get a slim chance of a debut after years of vocal and dance training.

Recently, many K-pop band members have taken the next step to write and produce songs on their own, challenging the past criticism that shrouded K-pop idols likened to factory churned-out idols made from large entertainment agencies.

"The singer-songwriter idols are nothing new. BigBang's G-Dragon elevated idols to artists who can write songs, then BTS's RM and Suga have shown what it means to reflect their voices by incorporating the criticism of Korean society into their music," said Park Hee-a, author of the book "Idols' Studio," for which she interviewed producer-idols such as Woozi from Seventeen and LE, EXID and B.A.P's Bang Yong-guk.

Another critic Lee Moon-won says that in Japan, the second biggest music market in the world which is diversified to meet the different needs of music consumers, idols are entertainers with multiple uses but not necessarily required to meet high standards as performers.

"There are even idols who sing while preparing noodles at restaurants in Japan. They are entertainers close to the fans, rather than artists with a high level of proficiency. From their standards, Korean idols are overqualified," said Lee, who added that it is the absence of diversified music markets in Korea that enabled this particular trend of K-pop idols.

"In Korea, only mainstream markets, not indie-music or non-mainstream music genres that appeal to small groups of fans, can survive in the small Korean music market. The mainstream has grown big siphoning off other music genres.

"To stand out in the single-functioning market, idols should dance as good as professional dancers, sing as good as professional singers, be as good-looking as fashion models and even be able to write songs. It is a very unique thing in this market," he said.

But, this seemingly negative trait of the market is not a bad thing, according to Lee. "This unique music industry environment has born multi-talented competitive K-pop idols who found a niche in the global music market and could carry on the global K-pop craze of today," he said.

ic_article_email.jpgjinhai@ktimes.com

CR: The Korea Times

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45 minutes ago, ImAOnce3513 (사나) <3 <3 said:

Well there is a bit of cultural differences between the Japanese and Korean People ahahha

more like a lot, Idols in Japan are there for their cuteness (and fan service), they're not expected to have good singing skill (or dancing skill). Just. Be. Cute. (creepy level over 9000).

There's just so many cases of crazy stuff happening between the idols and their fans.

I lost interest after seeing that they have not moved on since the year 2000, still the same old concepts.

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Just now, MooseLover said:

more like a lot, Idols in Japan are there for their cuteness (and fan service), they're not expected to have good singing skill (or dancing skill). Just. Be. Cute. (creepy level over 9000).

There's just so many cases of crazy stuff happening between the idols and their fans.

I lost interest after seeing that they have not moved on since the year 2000, still the same old concepts.

Hahahahha ikr i feel the same way, the only thing i love about japan is it's anime and it's traditional culture like samurais and ninjas and stuff ahahaha but their music not so much but maybe their artists i like some ahahha

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Just now, ImAOnce3513 (사나) <3 <3 said:

Hahahahha ikr i feel the same way, the only thing i love about japan is it's anime and it's traditional culture like samurais and ninjas and stuff ahahaha but their music not so much but maybe their artists i like some ahahha

i have tons of Utada Hikari, Namie Amuro, Ayumi Hamasaki, Mika Nakashima CDs and DVDs in storage :D now streaming over Apple Music or Spotify

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Just now, MooseLover said:

i have tons of Utada Hikari, Namie Amuro, Ayumi Hamasaki, Mika Nakashima CDs and DVDs in storage :D now streaming over Apple Music or Spotify

Woahh!! ahahah i didn't know you that many omg i only watch and listen but have never bought CD's and DVD's of it hahaha but i salute you for having that many i'm so amazed hahaha

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Just now, ImAOnce3513 (사나) <3 <3 said:

Woahh!! ahahah i didn't know you that many omg i only watch and listen but have never bought CD's and DVD's of it hahaha but i salute you for having that many i'm so amazed hahaha

they're not authentic CDs or DVDs, nobody sells them back then and if they do the prices are higher than retail. So i got them as counterfeits :dh-good: i only have one or two real ones hehehe

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1 minute ago, MooseLover said:

they're not authentic CDs or DVDs, nobody sells them back then and if they do the prices are higher than retail. So i got them as counterfeits :dh-good: i only have one or two real ones hehehe

Ohhhh okay, but still you have at least real one's and that is cool ahahah:dh-good:

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