In addition to the emotional and physical struggles of trainees before their debut, there also exists a severe financial struggle.
Trainees generally don’t have the time to take on part-time jobs, so it is extremely difficult for them to make a living during their long training period if they don’t have any financial support from their label, investors, or more.
Because of this struggle to meet daily needs, some idols are forced to succumb to receiving “sponsorship” from wealthy individuals.
“Sponsors” give these trainees an allowance as a form of support and in most cases expect something in return.
One male trainee shared his story and confessed his relationship with a “sponsor”. He explained, “She really started giving me allowances of 80,000 won (~$75 USD), 100,000 won (~$93 USD) or 200,000 won (~$186 USD).”
Then she started giving him an unbelievable amount of money, saying that she was being “very generous.”
“Then she gave me 1,000,000 won (~$930 USD) saying that she was being very generous. At first, I was flustered thinking of whether I could really take the money. I kept asking if I could really take it.” — Trainee
When he doubted taking the money, she reassured him by saying that it was a gift.
4 months later, she contacted him again, this time asking him to come over.
“4 months later, she texted me saying that she was lonely. Then she asked me to come over to her place.” — Trainee
The trainee tried to avoid the subject by mentioning her husband, but she replied that he was away on business. According to the trainee, she usually requested physical contact or company.
“When I asked about her husband, she said that he was on business and wouldn’t be returning home that day. She wanted things like physical contact or frequently asked me to be with her for the day.” — Trainee
After beginning to feel uneasy about the situation, he decided to pay back the money break off contact with the woman.
“I told her I don’t think this is right even though I accepted money. So I told her I’d pay back the money once I succeed and asked her to stop contacting me.” — Trainee
After hearing his request, the woman became very upset and said that he shouldn’t do this to her after all that she’s done for him.
“Then she printed out a statement that listed all the money she gave me and asked how I could betray her after all that she gave me. And I agree with her, it was crazy of me, but I didn’t realize at the time.” — Trainee
His last resort ended up backfiring and becoming an even bigger burden, financially and emotionally.
“Even the people around me encouraged me to just take it, but the money I received ended up accumulating up to about 20,000,000~30,000,000 won ($18,600~$27,900 USD). I had no money saved up, so I had to work, but there was no work that I could do. I was just left with debt.” — Trainee