There are a few things that truly bring the year to a spectacular close on the K-pop scene.
Apart from anticipating the arrival of more rookie groups and album releases, the year-end brings with it special music programmes such as the KBS and SBS Gayo Daejeon shows.
These programmes often feature a string of performances from many of the popular Korean idols.
While these special performances are eye-candy for fans, the increased burden on the artistes having to rehearse and prepare for the shows have landed many of them in hospital.
Exhaustion and fatigue are becoming increasingly common among Korean artistes even without the pressure of year-end shows.
K-pop idols often go through hours of rehearsal time in order to put on a flawless performance. With the added pressure of having to compete with new groups that crop up all the time, veteran artistes often choose to forgo rest and rehearse more.
Some idols have taken to social networking site to express their fatigue. Gahi, the frontman of girl group After School, tweeted “Feels like a heaving (sic) evening” after the recording of year-end concerts and shows have ended.
Juggling rehearsals and interviews are no longer the only things included in the schedule of a Korean artiste as variety show programmes have also become more demanding.
Kiss And Cry is one of these programmes. It requires a guest to take part in a series of ice-skating competitions.
When Krystal, a member of the group f(x), was booked to participate in the show, she found that it was just too big a burden for her.
Just a month before appearing on Kiss And Cry, f(x) had released a new album and to promote it, Krystal had to attend interviews, shows and other events. When she finally came on the show, she fainted on the ice during a performance.
Apparently, the incident was not the first time that Krystal had fainted during a show. Two years ago, the singer fainted on stage while performing Mr Boogie at the 2010 Lotte Concert.
Too much to bear
Some K-pop idols have also taken to acting to either boost or revive their career.
Popular TV dramas such as Dream High 2, High Kick and Athena have all featured popular K-pop artistes. However, the demanding schedule and recording sessions force some artistes to stay up all night in order to complete their work for the day.
On Jan 1, 2012, Park Jiyeon, a member of South Korean girl group T-ara, was hospitalised for fatigue from almost non-stop rehearsals.
Jiyeon is currently acting in the popular drama Dream High 2. She was said to have gone for the shooting of the drama at 4am, right after she finished recording a year-end programme.
An associate for the artiste stated that Jiyeon had been rehearsing for the music programme in a sleep-deprived state and that “it was a shame that she had a drama shoot afterwards”.
Jiyeon is not the first member of T-ara to have fallen prey to fatigue. On July 19 last year, Hyomin, too, fainted while coming back from the filming of a drama.
She was taken to hospital and diagnosed with fatigue from being too wrapped up in promotional duties for the group’s new song and for her new movie, as well as filming a TV show.
South Korean artistes who have to promote their work both in their home country and in Japan are also feeling the strain as they have to travel between the two countries all the time.
Members of SECRET were reported to have suffered from fatigue as they had to perform promotional duties back-to-back in both Japan and South Korea.
Hyosung, a member of SECRET, was hospitalised after having performed and appeared at eight different places within a short period of time.
In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that exhaustion and fatigue are part and parcel of being in the limelight. Is it all really worth it, though?
A number of K-pop idols speak of sacrifice being the main key to success, but exactly how much of a basic need can you sacrifice before it becomes detrimental to one’s health?
Perhaps some day the Korean music industry shall see some kind of intervention in order to improve the working conditions of these idols and regulate their working hours.
Till then, all we can do is support our idols and of course, send words of encouragement each time we see a worrying Tweet from our favourite K-pop stars.