Former STELLAR member Gayoung did an interview with Insight recently, talking about her life as an idol, and covering a wide range of topics.
Most relevantly to this site, she talks about her time in STELLAR.
While she acknowledges that their concept shift with “Marionette” did bring improved results, Gayoung says the members weren’t aware of how the concept was going to turn out.
“There was a scene in which [a member] spills milk,” she recalled. “The script said, ‘[The character] misses her ex-boyfriend; she tosses and turns in bed; she wakes up in the morning and drinks milk.’ “We thought, ‘Oh, she must be drinking milk because it’s the morning [and she just woke up].’ So that member was filming the scene and drinking milk, and [the director] told her, ‘Try spilling some milk.’ She thought, ‘It must be because [the character] is exhausted,’ so she ended up spilling some of the milk. “Later on, while reading comments, she realized that the scene could evoke a certain image, and she was extremely shocked.” Gayoung added, “The member who drank the milk was 20 years old at the time, and after [that incident], she was so traumatized that she no longer drinks white milk. She was really hurt. Because none of us knew[how that image would look] .”
With “Vibrato“, she recalls that the company basically tricked them into risque outfits, which of course forced them to use it throughout.
“When we were preparing [for our comeback with] ‘Vibrato,’ they told us on the day of the shoot to try on these [revealing] new outfits,” she explained. “We said, ‘There’s no way we can dance while wearing these [outfits].’ They replied, ‘Just try them on. Why would you say no without even trying them on?’ “So we [tried on the outfits] and took only five photos or so while wearing them. Then, [after looking at the photos, we said,] ‘See? These outfits are too much.’ They told us, ‘Okay, change into something else.’ But they ended up using those photos for the release.” “After we saw that they had been released, we called [our agency] and argued, ‘What happened?’” recalled Gayoung. “They said, ‘You didn’t know? Okay, then we won’t do that kind of thing from now on.’ But what could we do? The photos had already been released.” She added with a sad smile, “I think they knew that all of the members were too nice and innocent [to argue].”
Perhaps most disturbing is recounting how the agency wields the contract over them to get what they want.
Additionally, Gayoung explained, “Because of the contract that we signed with our agency, whenever we said, ‘We don’t want to do this or that,’ they would respond, ‘Don’t forget about your contract with the agency.’ For a young person, that was scary. I think we had this fear that ‘if I refuse to do this, then I’ll have to pay this entire penalty fee, and things will be difficult for me.’”
Not hard to see how this could be applied to many things.
Gayoung does note that STELLAR progressed from there, but that the public never took interest in them.
“We released a lot of albums after ‘Marionette,’ but it turns out that most people only remember our shocking concepts,” she commented. “We did keep releasing new music and promoting, [but our other concepts] simply flew under the radar and went unnoticed. It was difficult [for us], because people only responded to shocking concepts.”
She goes on to describe hardships like feeling bad for her parents, frustration that people thought their stage image was their real image, and most notably, that she wouldn’t do it all over again if she had a choice.
When asked whether she would choose to join STELLAR again if she could travel back in time, Gayoung tearfully replied with a smile, “No, I don’t think I would do it again.”
All of this is definitely disturbing and disappointing to hear, as I honestly did like STELLAR a lot. Their music was rock solid, they made people irrationally upset at them (especially for stuff they didn’t control), and eventually at least their music video directors did have interesting commentary about their perception (which Gayoung alludes to). That said, towards the end, it wasn’t hard to see that they were suffering under the company (glad they’re still friends, at least).
So this is, of course, yet another example of idols not having control over their concepts and image. But more importantly, it shows how companies use their positions of power to manipulate idols into doing what they want. And stuff like this always makes you wonder whether the celebrities with troublesome reputations are really just the ones standing up for themselves.
Either way, wishing Gayoung the best going forward (she was modelling for Minhee recently), as well as the other members.