There's a new show called "Miss Back" that is a mix of documentary and variety. It follows a group of “forgotten” female singers who are hoping for a second chance at success. The show is headed by Baek Ji Young, who will be the the singers’ producer and life mentor.
The eight idols on the show are Gayoung from STELLAR, Nada from Wassup, Raina from After School, Sera from 9MUSES, Soyeon from T-ara, Soyul from Crayon Pop, Subin (Dalsooobin) from Dal Shabet, and Jung Yujin from The Ark.
In the first episode, Sera, Soyul and Gayoung talked about their experiences as idols.
9MUSES member Sera was up first, and began, “We filmed a documentary before our debut. It showed a scene where our boss slapped me in the face with rolled-up paper. Even after I left the group, that clip followed me for a long time.”
“Things have changed a lot now, but back then we had to do everything we were told,” she said. “We were wearing garter belts for our first broadcast. It was the first time I’d ever even heard of garter belts.”
“I couldn’t stop crying in the washroom,” Sera continued. “I couldn’t stop crying after seeing myself and the girls who were high school students wearing that. After an hour, I went out and filmed for 10 minutes and then went back in. Afterward, I was fired [as leader].”
When asked about how she paid for her living expenses, Sera answered, “Bank loans.” She went on to say, “Everyone experiences difficult things in their life, but last year I developed a panic disorder. I’m taking medication for a panic disorder and depression now too.”
Sera said, “There are 60 to 70 girl groups who debut each year, but only 1 percent of them survive into the next year.” Sera uses her YouTube channel in order to promote junior groups.
In footage from her home, Sera finished filming a YouTube video and then bent over her desk with her head in her arms, saying “It’s okay” to herself and then crying. Watching the video, Baek Ji Young was brought to tears. Sera also received counseling from a psychiatrist.
In another footage from her home, Sera is shown waking up multiple times at night and eating pizza and cake, but afterwards she doesn't remember. This symptom is commonly known as somnambulism caused by medication taken for depression.
In the studio, Soyeon related to Sera’s story. She said, “As a woman, you can become emotionally wounded while being in a girl group and working in the entertainment industry. My story is also similar.”
“This is the first time I’ve talked about this,” she continued. “It started when my group received hate due to a misunderstanding. At the time, I was scared of going to the hospital too. I was worried that it might be misunderstood, so I didn’t go and I endured it for a few years. Then it was too difficult.”
Eventually, she opened up to her mother and she received treatment for an anxiety disorder and depression. She was given medication, but she didn’t take it as she worried she wouldn’t be able to recover fully if she only depended on it. Soyeon shared that she’s since gotten better.
“I was worried while watching that because she seemed so isolated,” Soyeon said. “I hope that we all get along well during this program and get better.” She said to Sera, “Let’s be friends, we’re the same age.”
Sera later performed the song “Please” by Lee So Ra, sharing that she wants to show that people like her can gain confidence.
Next up was Soyul. Looking back on her time in Crayon Pop, Soyul said, “There were times when we had more than 10 scheduled events in a day,” she said in her interview. “I remember living in the van for a week. I couldn’t wash my hair and I’d brush my teeth in there.”
She also said, “To be honest, Crayon Pop’s songs weren’t my style. I hated how my voice sounded when I forced it to sound different.”
“Even after I gave birth to my daughter, I missed performing,” said Soyul. “There are a lot of girl group members who continue after they turn 30, but wouldn’t it be difficult since I’ve gotten married and have a child? I think couldn’t let go [of my dream of performing.]”
The show took a look at her life at home as a mom to her young daughter and homemaker. Soyul said that while she’s very peaceful and happy as Hee Yul’s mother and her husband’s wife, she still feels an emptiness. “I let go of myself,” she said. “I lived for three years while forgetting who I am. I wanted to do music so badly too.”
Soyul shared that her husband Moon Hee Jun had liked it when she shared that she’d be coming on the show. She said, “When I was pregnant too, I told him, ‘Even after I have the baby, I’m going to promote if I can.'” Soyul was also shown going to a dance academy to practice her dancing.
Soyul then took to the stage to perform the famous trot song “Southbound Train” by Kim Soo Hee.
Gayoung said in her interview, “I thought we’d be a group like Apink, with a pure concept. But there was no reaction.” Gayoung debuted with STELLAR in 2011, and when they didn’t gain popularity through their pure concept, they switched to a sexy concept, with some of their music videos receiving R ratings.
She shared that this had led to a big increase in their work, and the agency had responded by making their concept even more provocative.
She went on to share the story of how the group had been blindsided when preparing for their comeback with “Vibrato.” They had done their outfit fitting but when they went to the music video set, they were told to wear outfits where the sides were open except for a string holding them together.
When the members said they couldn’t wear them, the agency head promised that if it looked too racy, they would change their clothes and the images wouldn’t be used. The group only took five photos and even their agency head agreed that it looked too racy. STELLAR changed their outfits for other photos, but the agency released the photos of the group in the original outfits.
“I finished the entire contract period [seven years] and left,” she said.
Gayoung shared, “There are people who send me photos of their privates through social media. I also often receive offers from sponsors.” In this case, the word “sponsor” is a euphemism for rich and influential people that pay large amounts of money and give support and backing to celebrities who provide sexual favors.
Gayoung’s mother said that she had been opposed to her taking this path, as being an idol is difficult. Gayoung had been such a top student that her goal was one of the most prestigious universities in the country. She talked about how her daughter’s sexy concept had made her heart ache.
Gayoung said, “When people asked what their daughter does and they told them I’m in the group STELLAR, those people would look me up then and ask, ‘Why does she do this kind of thing?’ I was so sorry about that.” The MCs told her, “It wasn’t your fault, it was the adults who were wrong to do that.”
Despite it being summer, Gayoung wore a long sleeve shirt and pants when she met her friends. She explained that because of her trauma from wearing such revealing clothing during her promotions, she prefers to wear long skirts or pants. “I hate other people looking at my legs and skin,” she shared.
Gayoung also shared that she’d only received 10 million won (approximately $8,700) over her seven years with the agency. Furious, Baek Ji Young said tearfully, “They didn’t pay you either?” Gayoung’s story will continue in the next episode.
STELLAR’s Agency Responds To Gayoung’s Comments On “Miss Back” About Their Concept And Management + Show’s PD Replies
After Gayoung spoke on “Miss Back” about the struggles she experienced while promoting with STELLAR, the head of the group’s agency reacted in an interview. In response, the show’s director has stood behind her comments.
Choi Byung Min, the head of The Entertainment Pascal, responded through a phone call with Star News on October 9 to what Gayoung had said in the “Miss Back” premiere . He described her comments as equal to defamation.
On the topic of the payment Gayoung received, he said, “We paid her even though they didn’t break even, and the amount was definitely more than 10 million won.” He continued, “According to their contract, they needed to break even for them to receive a profit. Despite that, we gave them a lot of support, with the idea that it was like an allowance.” He said that they had also provided them with other support such as vehicles and money for meals. Choi Byung Min stated that Gayoung and Jeonyul had debts to the company of over 100 million won ($87,000), but the agency had taken on the debt.
He went on to say, “The sexy concept also was not something that they did from the beginning, and while it might have been more provocative than other groups, it was one of the trends at the time and we didn’t try a 19+ concept from the start.” He claimed, “Since the outfits were a sensitive issue, we asked for consent from the members’ parents.” He said, “Some of the members’ parents also said, ‘Let’s go with a sexier concept.'”
Choi Byung Min said that Gayoung had taken part in a cosmetics advertisement without the agency’s agreement and had promoted it on her social media. He stated that this had led to a lawsuit from another cosmetics company that had almost caused their agency to have to shut down. Star News reports that Choi Byung Min lost 80 million won (approximately $70,000) due to this issue. Choi Byung Min also described Gayoung’s comments as malicious.
In response, “Miss Back” producing director Nam Sung Hyun stated, “We don’t have any particular statement to make. Nothing that Gayoung said in the show was false. She didn’t want to wear revealing clothes but she wore them, she opposed it but they released [the photo] anyway, and she experiences trauma because of that.”
“The agency’s statement is that it was all done for the sake of their success,” he continued. “However, while their perspective on it might be different, there wasn’t a single thing that Gayoung said that was untrue.”
“From Gayoung’s perspective, the comment that she was paid about 10 million won over the seven years is a fact,” he said. “The agency head says that they were actually in debt, but those are two different perspectives.” He clarified that while their points of view are different, what she said is still true.
“Our program is about the cast returning with the ‘song of their life,'” he said. “Depending on the member, there will be a lot of talk about their past and present, and it will also show their future where they receive a new song.”
“Gayoung’s trauma and the reason she only wears long clothing was included in the episode as part of the story of her past,” he said. “There are still a lot of interesting things to come. It will tell the story of the members returning with the ‘song of their life.'”
source: soompi 1 2, naver 1 2 3 4 5, MBN Entertainment, koreaboo, Insight