“Injury” is one of the keywords representing the “Idol Star Athletics Championships” (ISAC).
Until now, many idol stars including SHINee Minho, SISTAR Bora, DMTN Daniel, VIXX Leo, EXO Xiumin, former EXO member Tao, INFINITE Sungyeol – Woohyun, AOA Seolhyun and BTS Jin were injured while participating in “ISAC”. These accidents/injuries were clearly recognizable at the scene, or were reported by the media through agencies and broadcasting companies’ confirmation.
Agencies express anxiety and frustration. An official from agency A said, “I always tell them not to be too competitive or overworked unless it’s an event they really like or want to be good at.” An official from agency B agreed, “It’s true that there are concerns about safety.” This is because the red light will be turned on for various activities right away if you get seriously injured. Among the idols mentioned earlier, there are cases where they suffered damage such as not attending music shows due to severe injuries.
MBC has always stated “Medical staff are on standby” and “We are particularly concerned about playing games safely”, but despite these remarks, there have been large and small injuries every year at “ISAC“. Of course, since it is a place to compete, participants can overdo themselves, which leads to injuries. The problem is that MBC does not seem to have much interest in creating an environment to play safe and healthy games.
A simple example is “sheets“. Sheets were placed on the floor when running games were held, so participants often fell. According to reviews from those who went to the recording of “ISAC” held on August 1st, the floor was sheeted again this year. The same thing has been repeated even though the problem has been raised in earnest since 2018.
The situation is even more serious in the COVID-19 situation. The number of daily COVID-19 cases, which once dropped to less than 10,000, gradually increased and exceeded 100,000. On August 1st, the number was not small at around 40,000 people. As with any entertainment program, all the cast members were not wearing masks under the pretext of “for broadcasting“. Among the cast, singer Kim Jae-hwan was diagnosed with COVID-19 after finishing the recording of “ISAC” and took a break from activities.
“ISAC” also became a hot topic this year due to the “controversy over human rights violation“. “ISAC” issued a notice before the recording. They announced that the recording would start at 5:30 AM and end at 9 PM on the same day. Nevertheless, not only was it impossible for fans to leave in the middle of the recording but eating was also prohibited due to COVID-19 prevention regulations. When the news was reported, controversy arose, so “ISAC” eventually allowed fans to go in and out and have meals in the middle of the recording.
Individual meals were allowed, but this was also borne by agencies. Each agency presented food tickets or lunch boxes to fans. The “proof shots” uploaded by fans who participated in the recording were also a big issue. Such a “reversal tribute” is considered to mean that singers and agencies repay the love that fans have sent so far, but there are concerns that broadcasting company will encourage an overheated competition among agencies. An official from agency C said, “I hope the broadcasting company will provide lunch boxes equally. It’s burdensome because it somehow became a competition among agencies.”
Regarding the controversy, MBC backed off, saying that it is the responsibility of each agency to gather fans through media outlets, but this is not convincing. Hundreds of idols from dozens of agencies gather for one program called “ISAC”, and it is almost impossible for each agency to have its own management policy. Rather, agencies face the double burden of having to comply with the broadcasting company’s requirements without harming fans’ safe and enjoyable viewing.
An official from agency B explained, “All initiative and decision-making power rests with the broadcasting company, and (agencies) should collect opinions from both the broadcasting company and fans. Perhaps it’d be burdensome for an agency without professional manpower. I’ve seen places where people make mistakes because they don’t understand the meaning of this event. While prioritizing the order and safety of fans who come to see their favorite artists, it’s the responsibility of agencies to deliver rules set by the broadcasting company to fans.”
Various controversies such as safety issues, frequent injuries and the treatment towards audiences have now become an annual event for “ISAC”. However, despite harsh criticism, “ISAC” has been living for more than 10 years.
A gorgeous cast is basic, from popular idols to rookies. Besides, the program’s character is also clear by capturing the excitement and unpredictable fun that come from sports games. The K-pop industry is becoming centered on idol groups. “ISAC” allows idols to show off their skills through various sports off stage, and helps them increase existing fans’ loyalty or attract new fans.
Officials from agencies also acknowledged that “ISAC” is an opportunity to raise awareness. An official from agency B said, “Actually, in the case of rookies, just entering ‘ISAC’ means that they have reached a certain stage.”
Eventually, it goes back to where it was. If it is difficult to abolish “ISAC”, the opinion is that we should improve the problems pointed out every time so that the program can be filmed in a safer environment.
An official from agency A said, “However, shouldn’t they supplement what viewers and fans criticize? If it’s the first or second year, you can say it’s ‘immature’, but it’s been over a decade. At least make the floor less slippery during running games.”
Can “ISAC” accept bitter words towards the program and pursue further improvement? The outlook does not seem bright.
Perhaps the secret to longevity of “ISAC” so far is the persistence of not responding to unfavorable contents.