Oh My Girl member YooA tested positive for COVID-19 back on March 6, but was said to be recovered in time for their comeback on March 28. However, WM Entertainment revealed in a statement that she would be halting activities due to lingering health issues.
“After being diagnosed with COVID-19 [last month], YooA has recently suffered from aftereffects of the virus, and because her condition has gotten worse, she has expressed that it is difficult for her to continue promotions. Therefore, she is currently getting plenty of rest in order to stabilize her health. Our agency considers our artists’ health and safety our top priority. Therefore, after careful discussion with the Oh My Girl members, including YooA, it has been decided that she will temporarily be focusing entirely on getting rest and treatment.”
Yeah, I find it exceedingly unlikely that she only just began struggling with health a week into promotions. It likely just became untenable for her to continue even though they tried to rush her back.
Regardless, given that she’s still suffering about a month later, she basically the first idol to admit to suffering from long COVID, which ranges in severity but can be extremely worrisome even in young people. There’s obviously a lot we still don’t know about COVID, long COVID, and her situation specifically, but it’s enough to be concerning.
The situation also raises ethical questions, which aren’t necessarily about YooA, Oh My Girl, or even WME, but rather the industry at large. While K-pop idols are extremely unlikely to die from COVID, there’s a lot between healthy and death, including the risk of long COVID.
I’m not suggesting everybody go back to living in a bubble, but it seems odd that everybody just seems fine with idols getting COVID and people generally not giving a shit about their well being.
The list of idols who have had it is just comically long at this point, and I highly doubt YooA is the only one who has suffered any kind of lasting symptoms. Pair that with the lack of agency idols have over their own bodies while under contract (especially the initial one), and it’s hard to argue that sending them to high-risk events like music shows for its 0.0% ratings is absolutely necessary even to keep the industry cogs turning. Like at bare minimum that seems pointless, and there’s a bunch of other stuff that is just normalized at this point.
Anyway, I’m trying to stay away from sensationalizing things here as fandoms have a tendency to overreact, but that’s also kind of why it’s interesting that I haven’t seen a ton of concern for this kind of stuff. Maybe all this is a bit much, but YooA’s situation was a wakeup call and got me thinking about what kind of health risks people are just writing off as nothing when we already do that so much for all the other industry practices as it is.