Ex-GWSN member Miya talks idol hardships, company treatment, fresh start with Asahi Shimbun

Earlier this year, GWSN won a lawsuit against their company The Wave Music to terminate their contract, and it also revealed the mistreatment the members were subjected to. Former member Miya recently gave an interview to Asahi Shimbum (full translation here), and opened up about her idol life in Korea, the problems with the company, and her new start.


The interview started off talking about how she got into K-pop, which was basically going to an audition in Japan, borrowing money to attend a second audition in Korea, then getting accepted, which all seemed like a bit of a whirlwind process.

Miya also talked a lot about trainee life, and nothing she said is necessarily new ground, but it definitely reinforces everything we assumed.

Once you started trainee life, what was that like for you?
I was on the phone with (one of) the [GWSN] members just the other day, and we started joking like, “We were in prison, weren’t we?”
Because the training was so difficult?
No, practice hours were actually when I felt the least stressed. We started practice after the younger girls came home from school every day, and we each had our own individual lessons as well as group practice, so by the time we got done, it’d be completely dark outside.

I mean it’s probably bad when many people either “joke” about or file lawsuits over companies housing teens in conditions that are prison-esque.

She also talked about the restrictions by the company on their lives and the diet they were put on.

What was your diet like?
Every time we went in for practice, we had to weigh ourselves in front of a manager first. Then we would report the meal we were going to have: “I’m going to eat a banana and a boiled egg.” “I’m going to eat one apple.” There was usually only time to get anything in your mouth twice a day. I thought I might go crazy. My previous company was especially strict, so we had no free time, no money, and our phones were confiscated. I was just barely able to talk to my family using the manager’s phone.
It must’ve been hard not being able to eat.
At the time, some of the members were young and in high school, and normally you’d talk about stuff like boys at that age, right? All we talked about was food. Sneaking out to the convenience store was what we did for fun. It was against the rules for us to have money, but everyone had a “slush fund” of allowance from their parents. On the way to our practice room, we’d go into this inconspicuous convenience store behind the building and use the 10,000 won in our pockets on ice cream to eat while we took a detour back around.
When we shot a music video, there’d be catering for the staff, so while the other members were filming, I’d steal tteokbokki and chicken and stash it in a hiding place. Then we’d all covertly tell each other where it was and eat it in secret. Things like that really boosted the solidarity between us.

I mean that is absolutely the kind of solidarity developed through like prison or abuse or something.

It’s mentioned that one of the few things the company did right was letting Miya keep her personal styling. However, it then goes on to say that after COVID-19 hit, things went to shit for the company. She mentioned they were so busy before that, but had less chances after, and Miya talked about the group’s end.

The album you released in May 2021 [The Other Side of the Moon, title track “Like It Hot”] became your last, and your activities all but dried up. It was reported that mismanagement by your company was the root cause of this.
We stayed on standby and got updates on the situation through our manager, but it was a difficult time for us. They tried to set things up so we could be active again at any time, but we spent more and more time in the dorms, and some of the members went back home. It was us members who got tired of waiting.
All the members won their exclusive contract termination lawsuit filed against the company in January of this year and became free agents. But according to local media and other sources, visa-related arrangements for you and another foreign member were delayed due to the company’s oversight and resulted in you being treated as illegal residents.
We did end up overstaying illegally, but, well… I really don’t know what goes on inside the company. I know that people will be angry on our behalf, but this has to do with business, so I personally don’t have any desire to cast blame to that extent. When I went home to Japan, people from the company helped me, but now I only stay in touch with the other members. For me, the concept of our fifth album perfectly matched my taste, so I’m frustrated by that as well.

Nicer than I’d be in her situation, that’s for sure.

Either way, she mainly seems to want to move on, and the main point of talking about all this is likely her fresh start with a company in Japan.

In April, you signed with a Japanese agency and made a fresh start. What are your plans for the future?
Some of the fans who’ve supported GWSN for a long time might feel sad that (only) I’m making a new start, but I thought somebody needed to take the next step. Going forward, I want to try doing some acting and modeling, and I haven’t given up on the idol world either, so if I have the chance, I’d like to audition again. I think it’d be a waste if there were no characters like me left in K-pop.

Wishing her the best, and it’s a bit of a postscript on GWSN, so that’s nice to have.

Though in a marco sense, I suppose there’s no real point to covering this aside from adding another bullet point to the ledger of mistreated idols. And this is especially rough because for a while it did seem like their company was doing a decent job, but once COVID-19 hit all the warts came out after the money disappeared, and it’s probably almost impossible for the idols/fans to see it coming unless it’s a company with a history of doing that.


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