Rating K-Pop Agencies 2019: SM Entertainment

(Side Note: In rating agencies, primary objective is to evaluate agencies’ responses to various issues. Responses are a crucial ingredient for agencies’ and groups’ survival, fame, and profitability.

To a lesser extent, financial aspects might be tackled, but will not be a major factor in rating them.)

Bright side

With some of EXO, Super Junior, and SHINee members serving in military, expect SM’s downturn when it comes to boy groups. But their responses to this situation were very nice.

First is on the remaining members undergoing solo debuts, even if these were not good enough. Most famous were EXO’s Sehun, Chanyeol, and Baekhyun. It also pushed boundaries by forming SuperM, where they combined select members from different groups into one.

It also did not neglect NCT and Red Velvet. In fact, they made dual group and solo comebacks for NCT, plus other tracks for its subunit WayV. It went far to immediately issue statement to protect Taeyong. For RV, the agency took part in “jigsaw puzzle concept” as to keep their sole lead girl group relevant.

Charity works with UNICEF have to be noted, as the agency continuously sustains its SMile program as its corporate social responsibility arm.

Lastly, they are keeping Super Junior alive. Aside from providing solo tracks, they prepared for the complete return of members by providing two comebacks. Maintaining talents like this for a very long time is something other agencies don’t have.

Dark side

Still, some issues must be responded on. First is on handling older K-Pop groups (f(x) and SNSD). This is not to mention lack of promotions for them. In fact, it’s funny that SM only remembered f(x) through merch when virtually all members left (Amber, Victoria, and Luna), not to mention the latter being happy after leaving the agency.

While solo acts like that of Luna and Taeyeon are worth commending, the agency should consider also applying “SuperM” concept with girl groups. As of now, SM is wasting talents on them. Case in point: Oh!GG.

Second is on providing responses on the talents’ status, which was lacking in cases like Baekhyun, Seulgi, and Yeri.

Finally, they must provide strong measures to protect its artists. Sulli’s death should be a cause for alarm, since depression is not to be taken lightly. They failed on this when Sulli asked for psychological help from the agency, but they just dismissed it.

Considering below-the-belt remarks from netizens, plus intense workshops, SM should’ve taken actions. These include pressing charges against malicious commenters, counselling for artists, and providing breaks.*

As of present, Taeyeon is still battling depression. So, if SM would not respond to protect the mental health of their artists (within their reach), failing grade will be given to the agency next year.


SM plans to add new boy and girl group next year. While this would help the agency with its few roster, the true test lies on how it treats the existing groups, specially the old ones.

Despite some not so good points, positive responses bear fruit for the agency. In fact, Baekhyun’s UN Village, RV’s tracks, and NCT still lead the way from sales to charts. To add, SuperM fared well in their venture to mainstream music. The only question would be on how to take care of its talents in the long run.

Rating: 80.00%
Grade: C-
Assessment: Needs Improvement


  Criterion Points
1 Promotion of groups 4
2 Rolling of comebacks 5
3 Handling boy groups 5
4 Handling girl groups 2
5 Assessment as whole 7
6 Longevity of groups 10
7 Handling issues and responding 7
8 Other factors  

* In fairness to SM Entertainment, they exerted some efforts to protect Sulli by pressing charges. But it posed some difficulties: (1) A malicious commenter used foreign IP address to mask his/her location, and (2) even if SM is ready to press charges for other netizens, Sulli decided to abandon it out of generosity.

Notes and Reflections on Goo Hara’s Death (Part 2)

Dedicated to Goo Hara and all K-Pop celebrities:

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy

What if trials of this life…are Your mercies in disguise?

“Blessings”, Laura Story

K-Pop for this year is full of trials, the recent one with Kang Daniel suffering from depression. Mostly we see stars get depressed, commit suicides, or otherwise retiring and taking hiatus for various reasons.

The trials of K-Pop for this year proved that fame and material success can’t ultimately satisfy the spiritual and psychological hunger that K-Pop stars are experiencing for so many years. It does not really give inner peace and direction many stars wanted, to live a simple and happy life.

It proves that “Man does not live on bread alone,” as Jesus Christ quoted. In Korean:

‘사람이 빵으로만 살아서는 된다’ 라고 쓰여 있다.
누가복음 4:4b (KLB)       

These deaths not only proved the inevitable decline K-Pop is facing, but also that the celebrities are humans like you and me. They feel sad and happy. They cry and laugh. They get hurt and depressed, too. Ultimately, they have the innate right to love, be loved, and enjoy life.

Stars are trained at a very young age, at a critical time where their maturity is not yet fully developed. Without proper advice from elderly/wise people and psychologists, these stars find it difficult to handle pressure and manage emotions. Not to mention pressure from fans and agencies for them to look good, be prim and proper, avoid “scandals”, etc. etc…

Korean society as a whole is still not solving the problem on depression taboos. Stigma is still present for those who are mentally challenged. Worse, suicides tend to be the normal case for them. What would be the turning point for Korean society to realize that this is a very serious problem?

Please be reminded again of this message:

It’s hard for me to enjoy K-Pop sometimes, because in the back of my mind, I’m always remembering how stressed and sad some of them are behind the scenes. I’m happy enjoying them perform, but are THEY happy?

All that goes through my mind when I’m trying to enjoy K-Pop and I’m scared sometimes that I’m going to hear someone I love in K-Pop that has taken his/her own life.

With the inherent situation facing all of our favorites, they are materially happy. But the big question is: Are our K-Pop stars also spritually/mentally/socially happy?

Join us as we will offer our prayer again to all of our favorites in K-Pop.

Notes and Reflections on Goo Hara’s Death

Dedicated to Goo Hara, her friends, and family.

With all the bullying experienced from her ex-boyfriend and netizens, comes Goo Hara’s death. As with Sulli, many fans and celebrities are expressing condolences. Various agencies and stars are suspending meet-ups and releases out of respect. Heechul afterwards made his Instagram account private out of her loss.

The bullying she faced, plus Sulli’s death, proved too much for her. It can be remembered that she failed on her first attempt six months ago. And this time, she succeeded.

Still, Korean society is not learning lessons from previous deaths. And as a fan, I felt sad and angry about it.


I’m coldhearted

As much as I wanted to enjoy K-Pop, as this site is more on spreading fun, I am now going to be ambivalent on it for now due to these incidents. This dampens most of my enthusiasm I got when I focused on K-Pop last year. With few reads too, I don’t see anymore reason to fully devote my time to K-Pop unlike before. Might as well consider discouraging other people to listen and enjoy K-Pop if things did not improve.

As of this point, I am also suffering from similar situation as I age. Time came for me to realize that I am not getting younger anymore, and that I’ve been left behind in terms of achievements, relationships, and marriage. And still, it’s very hard for me to achieve these things. That’s why I don’t take depression lightly.


All these scandals – from Seungri to Goo Hara – are exposing what’s wrong inside the industry. These incidents alone are telling that K-Pop is now losing popularity, appeal, and/or prestige. Or heading towards decline. And I am not surprised, considering that some agencies are going unresponsive over various issues.

We K-Pop fans share the burden of protecting our favorite stars. With all of our favorites working very hard and long just to entertain us, we have to cheer them. Give them inspiration. Strengthen and console them. Be supportive, but critical at same time. Don’t pick fights on other stars and fandoms. If we do these, then K-Pop is on a right track.

Out of respect to Goo Hara, no more activities for November, except for our prayer. Select reviews for this month will be published starting December 8, till further notice.

In our next article, join us as we conduct our prayer for all of remaining K-Pop (Hallyu) artists.

K-Pop Annual Report 2019

At this point, we will start telling what happened to K-Pop this 2019, covering from January to November.

The events in K-Pop for the year 2019 is perfectly summed up in one phrase: Rookies and Scandals.


More positives happened this year. This includes creating a special celebrity challenge called Queendom. In this show, select girl groups are given tasks and are to experiment on different genres. This helped some underrated groups rise to fame, as is the case with AOA and Oh My Girl.

For the first time in K-Pop, SuperM was created out of different groups. The select members from EXO, SHINee, and NCT were combined to form a supergroup.

Enlistments are still ongoing, with Hongki, D.O., and Xiumin joining the corps. Meanwhile, some military discharges are happening like that of Super Junior and Bigbang.

This has been also the Year of the Rookies, with so many new groups debuting and garnering attention. Listed were Cherry Bullet, AB6IX, TXT, ITZY, VeriVery, BVNDIT, Hinapia, and others. For TXT, ITZY, and AB6IX, they bagged awards, got promotions, and endorsements in a short span of time.

Another positive aspect was on proactive approach of fandoms in various issues. With the power they have, fandoms are going to be less beholden to unresponsive agencies. Take the case of Monbebes, who are taking collective efforts for Wonho to return. They even launched a fundraising to install posters at Times Square. To a lesser extent, this is happening on Merries and Produce 101 fans.

On dating scandals, some succeeded in this hurdle, but many failed to go through. Famous success stories were on TWICE’s Jihyo and Kang Daniel, and Hyuna and Dawn. Failures include that of Jennie and Kai, and Daisy and Yunyeong.

Some pioneer groups are trying to go back to the K-Pop scene. This we see with Fin.K.L, Brown Eyed Girls, Ladies’ Code, and Super Junior with their respective comebacks.


More sad news are surfacing in the industry. First is on disbandment, namely that of f(x), Wanna One, B.A.P., Myteen, Boyfriend, Hello Venus, and Pristin.

Second, but equally painful, was the scandals. Scandals that made major impact on K-Pop were on Seungri’s case and Sulli’s death. The Burning Sun, in which various artists were involved, later crippled YG Entertainment, even if Seungri and Yang Hyun Suk were kicked out.

Sulli’s death highlighted the dark side of K-Pop, primarily pressure from agencies and hate remarks from netizens. Her death prompted several stars to suspend or cancel various engagements as sign of respect.

More and more members are going to rest due to health reasons. This is the case with Choi Yoojung, Dino, Yanan, and Minari. If not on hiatus, they part ways mainly on career change, retirement, and scandals. Notable cases were on B.I., Woojin, Hwall, Laun, Kangin, AOA’s Mina, and Wonho.

This year characterized several hiatus with Momoland and Cherry Bullet. Both have two members on hold for unspecified reason. And as of this writing, their agencies are silent on this lingering problem.

The voting scandals of Produce series are now casting doubts, not only on future shows, but also on groups born in it (IZ*ONE and X1). There have been petitions to ban these groups from future engagements.

In the next article, we will discuss on the future of K-Pop ten years from now.

Featured Image Credit: KMania Channel

Notes and Reflections on Sulli’s Death

Dedicated to Sulli, her fans, and family.

성경에도 이렇게 기록되어 있습니다. “생명을 사랑하며 행복한 생활을 원하는 사람은 악한 말이나 거짓말을 해서는 된다.
베드로전서 3:10 (KLB)

The author created this site with primary aim to spread the fun and other side of the news. To this end, the author focused more on K-Pop, as it is a genre where many are enjoying it.

Sulli’s recent death exposed the dark side of K-Pop, that is, pressure and expectations from agencies, fans, and netizens. This mostly pose health hazards for many stars. Worst, this can lead to depression and death, as is the case with Jonghyun and the young girl.

As sign of respect to Sulli, the author made this site inactive for several days. Again and again, depression is no joke.

What if…

What if Sulli did not enter the K-Pop scene? To put it into perspective, let’s intertwine her life story with that of mine, since we are of the same age:

Sulli once revealed that she left for Seoul alone during her fourth grade. Six years later, she was once featured in a show, doing taste test. While she battles the hurdles of life, the author struggled on the loss of parent and on final moments as tenth grader.

She continued her college studies by attending one in her later years. This entailed her efforts to be just a simple college girl. At the same time, the author struggled for professional degree and in managing the actual work.

Afterwards, I would’ve traveled on that school, study again, and just ignore her even if her smile was so genuine. I would try to copy notes from her if our subjects are so hard. But eventually, as I learned that Sulli once dreamed to be a mother before she dies, I would’ve offered myself to fulfill her ultimate wish.

Summing up, her dreams are simple: Be a good student, and someday a mother. Now, her dreams vanished with some netizens killing her. I wonder now if haters had slept peacefully, as they succeeded in killing the young girl with their words.

Words can kill

Words can hurt and kill, and we must admit that we can’t avoid statements that hurt. If that’s the case then we have to issue apologies. But if done out of hatred, then we have a problem.

While nasty comments can actually help improve their performance, on the downside this can lead to depression, suicide, or worst, death.

Sulli’s death further affirmed two realities: (1) We only live once, and (2) life is fleeting. If we endlessly attack our fellow people and idols with malicious remarks, we not only waste our lives, but that of others too.

Effect on reviewers

This also gravely affected us reviewers, who tend to give brutal and frank assessments on performances. With her death, we have to rethink on the way we choose our words. If we have to be brutal and frank, we have to do these out of desire for improvement. But if we have to compliment them, we also have to do so.

The author tends to settle down and review write-ups before publishing. And if there’s a beef against anyone, there’s a justifiable reason, and is not usually repeating it (unless necessary). Because they will anyway face consequences of their wrong actions (Galatians 6:7). It’s senseless and a waste of time if I always hate any group, agency, and/or fandom.

Usually, the negatives on author’s reviews would be on horror, astrology, lack of excitement of music, difficult dances, and lack of storyline. Other than that, negative reviews on artists are rare.

Enjoy without hate

Now, peoples’ attitudes are going worse, for instance with Han Seohee over Monsta X’s Wonho. Even with Sulli’s death, some netizens still do not learn their lesson. It’s not actually surprising, as they are going to be:

“unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good”
– 2 Timothy 3:3 (NKJV)

In Korean:

“사랑이 없고 용서하지 않고 남을 헐뜯고 자제하지 못하며 사납고 선한 것을 싫어하고”
– 디모데후서 3:3 (KLB)

These attitudes gone worse, and it spilled to K-Pop. It reached the point where Sulli have to carry all these insensible hate remarks. Same goes to other stars like Suga and Jihyo.

Enjoying K-Pop without the hate remarks is still possible. We made it during 2NE1, Wonder Girls, Super Junior, and Big Bang eras. Back then when K-Pop was young, fanwars and “hate comments” exist, but fans do these out of fun. In the end, fans get along with each other.

But look at us now. Fanwars and toxic comments are everywhere, and are getting worse. These came to a point where one have to die, to let us realize what went wrong.

With success of K-Pop today, the industry must undergo changes for the better. K-Pop as whole should then consider managing artists and fans to prevent another disaster from happening again.

What to do?

It’s sad to think that actions are taken only when Sulli died. Hope that the actions to resolve this would not be futile.

Agencies and fans share the burden of protecting the remaining artists. For agencies, this includes programs to help them cope up, and pressing charges against malicious commenters. It is in the same principle that we will rate agencies at year-end.

For fans, we have to protect and defend our favorites against attackers in the best way possible. It’s better if we send our artists some messages to cheer them up, or praise them for good work. If we take our part, then K-Pop is on a best path.

For “He who would love life, and see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.”
– 1 Peter 3:10 (NKJV)

Sulli (설리) – Goblin (고블린): Special MV Review

In memory of Choi Jinri (March 29, 1994 – October 14, 2019)

This MV Review is dedicated to Sulli, her fans, and her family.

For our special MV review, we will backtrack a bit to cover Sulli, with her song Goblin. Honestly, I just only knew her due to her different approach on wardrobes, and on her being hated by Korean netizens.

Let me start and end this MV Review with Biblical verse, before we review her work:

그들의 눈에서 모든 눈물을 씻어 주실 것이니 다시는 죽음도 없고 슬픔도 없고 우는 것도, 아픔도 없을 것이다. 이것은 전에 있던 것들이 사라져 버렸기 때문이다.

– 요한계시록 21:4 (KLB)


The MV clearly tells a story “about a person with a dissociative disorder. She is with herself and with three other personalities.” Apparently, the three other personalities are none other than herself. The three personalities (as defined by a reviewer) are (1) introvert, (2) colorful, and (3) aggressive. (Being introverted is highlighted at 1:52 – 2:04, where the girl is hiding instead of interacting with three girls.)

I only find something beneficial with Sulli holding a cup of tea, where viewers might find time to do it while relaxing. Meanwhile, Sulli’s reactions at 2:56 – 2:59 are very funny. This refers to her being surprised by the girls’ dance steps.

Review by others

TheBiasList was astonished by SM’s difficulty of managing groups like f(x). The performance speaks of their previous acts rather than the usual modern tracks we hear. Goblin tells of a “twisted fairytale” through its hollow chimes and mood. The blogger liked the contrast between sing-song and the instrumentals, even if it appears troubling. It also liked her voice being so natural.

KPopReviewed did not expect that Sulli’s concept will be released. Goblin has its own way of being nice like nursery rhymes, albeit given a creepy concept. It defined some elements that differentiate it from the usual, pleasing-to-hear songs. First is on context, second is on instrumentals, and finally, on her vocals.

Review as whole

The interview at the intro and outro of the MV apparently became an unconscious premonition of her death. For instance, she told that the “end” (and when it will happen) is quite relative, meaning it depends on us. She further asks, “Did I do something wrong?”

The air of fear is being felt through her swaying, hollow voice, and the clanging instrumentals. Added to that air was of three persons always following her. Nevertheless, while it speaks of horror, this features less horror characters.

Let’s delve more on the music. Sulli managed to combine her hollow voice and turn it into a swinging one. The instrumentals used some sparks, as if trying to hit a small bell. The sparkle is more pronounced as she does adlibs before final chorus.

The railing where she goes states her possible entanglement or confinement in her own “jail.” Seeing herself in a pool tells of her self-reflection. Finally, Sulli blowing candles at end represents her being thankful for the life she has.

Final goodbye

She was born several months earlier than I. As such, I felt the pain of her being gone at a very young age. This demonstrates how fleeting life is.

As the music video comes to an end, I didn’t stop crying. (This reminds me of SHINee’s Jonghyun who suffered the same fate, with Shining as his last work. As a fitting tribute to Jonghyun, I included his work in my misheard lyrics vid.)

As what I emphasized earlier, depression is a thing that should not be taken lightly. Expect the worst on other talents if agencies and other Koreans don’t take it seriously.

This site will be inactive for several days, out of respect for the young girl. No postings for meantime till end of October, except on CPA board exam results.

It saddens me that this will be my first and last review of her work. Rest in peace, Choi Jinri.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

– Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

TweetNewscaster’s Overall Rating: 89.41%
Grade: B+
Assessment: Good


Aspect   Criterion Points
Storyline 1 Storyline 5
Storyline 2 Consistent theme 5
Appearance 3 Colorful/color fits emotions 5
Appearance 4 Good taste 5
Appearance 5 No Halloween, Easter, etc. 5
Appearance 6 No astrology featured 5
Appearance 7 Less horror featured 5
Appearance 8 Not too revealing outfits 5
Music 9 Exciting/Expresses emotions 4
Music 10 Not too deafening 5
Dance 11 Learned easily even by beginners  
Dance 12 Not too sensual  
Lessons 13 Moral lesson clearly stated 5
Lessons 14 Impart something beneficial for viewers 5
Other Matters 15 Sense of humor/expresses emotions 7
Other Matters 16 Make it to mainstream media 1
Other Matters 17 Review by other sites 4
Other Matters 18 Review of MV as a whole 5
Other Matters 19