Many teenage girls in the entertainment business say they were pressured by their agencies to wear revealing clothes, according to a survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
"The time has come to reach social consensus about the physical exposure of young and aspiring entertainers," Gender and Family Minister Paik Hee-young told reporters Monday. The survey was conducted among 88 teen entertainers. Forty-seven were boys and 41 girls.
About five of the girls and four of the boys were asked to show a lot of skin and in some cases were "coerced" into it. About half the girls and a handful of the boys were urged to have plastic surgery.
"In recent years, a large number of teen entertainers have become stars, but the legal system has been unable to keep up with the changes," Paik said. For instance, Korea's Broadcast Law is geared at protecting children and adolescents from viewing programs containing sexually explicit or violent content, but does not have any clauses regarding children or adolescents depicting such content. The law is also ambiguous on the breadth and degree of violence or sexual explicitness.
Analysis of popular female teenage dance groups in Korea since 1997 shows an increase in the number of young entertainers engaging in sexually suggestive dance movements and wearing skimpy clothes.
In the past, female teenage groups grew popular by pitching their innocent image and then moved on to capitalize on their sex appeal as they entered their 20s. But now more than half of the girl groups that emerged after 2009 have debuted pitching their sex appeal. One pop music critic said, "This has become a widespread trend as girl groups debuted left and right following the success of the Wonder Girls and Girls' Generation."
Paik said, "Since this is not a matter that can be dealt with through unilateral regulations, we will gather the opinions of other government ministries as well as experts and come up with a set of guidelines regarding exposure."