When I look at K-pop idols who enter the industry early, I can't help but wonder on the ethics of it.
I'm not saying that they don't deserve the rewards of their hardwork, but that there surely must be some unaddressed effects of working so hard at such a young age.
When someone becomes a public figure, there are some ill-effects. Parasocial relationships, stalkers, and a loss of privacy are all big issues. How much more impactful is it on those that are minors?
Even past the age of majority, I would think that most people are still developing and deserve a right to privacy and their own space. In hindsight, 18-year old me clearly didn't know what was going on.
How certain are we that they are also making an informed decision? When you enter the industry while still in schooling, you make a trade-off.
This is called the opportunity cost of a decision. Is further education something they would enjoy? How would they even know they would enjoy it if they never experience it?
Do we know that they consider their future career? How possible is it to pivot to alternative career pathways, if at all? Are they pre-determining their career to be in one narrow industry?
Beyond that, I also want to know who exactly is demanding such young people to go on stage.
If it is older people, then I do not think their preferences should be addressed. Instead, more stringent regulations should be created to protect minors.
If it is younger people, like those still in school, then perhaps they should change stance: stop demanding idols of similarly young age. I can imagine how it is appealing, but it doesn't seem worth it.
There are human costs to these demands. At least, everyone deserves to have the freedom to choose how to make a living. It would be tragic if young people are taken into a predatory system that only wants their youth, nevermind what happens afterwards.