Where Some Of The World's Biggest Stars Are Told They Can't Date

Photo: Den Oppa
It was a terrifying moment when, in 2013, a weeping, 20-year-old Minami Minegishi from the popular Japanese girl band AKB48 took to her YouTube channel to shave her head. The act was intended as a display of apology; she had spent a night with her boyfriend and thereby broken her management firm's rules.

Minegishi's very public self-shaming exercise (head shaving is a traditional form of showing contrition in Japan) came after a newspaper released pictures of her leaving her boyfriend’s apartment.

While the world may have looked on in shock, the reality remains that K-Pop and J-Pop stars in Asia are subject to tyrannical rules and absurd social stipulations from their management teams. According to the BBC, young stars even have to request permission from their agencies to marry.

Rob Schwartz, the Tokyo-based Asia Bureau Chief of Billboard Magazine, told the BBC, "It's possibly comparable to the situation in the 1940s in the U.S. when film studios had huge control over their movie stars...even then, they may have been encouraged not to date or marry, but there was less coercion.”

The BBC has also suggested that some young boy-band and girl-band members are pressured into plastic surgery and deterred from having a political opinion. This was evident when Taiwanese star Chou Tzu-yu, 16, was forced to make an abject video apology after waving a Taiwanese flag — a symbol of independence.

While the inner workings of the Asian pop industry would seem shrouded in secrecy and complex traditional and moral mores, behind-the scenes control is leading to disturbing incidents of public shaming for musicians.

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