In the U.S., paparazzi are pretty much synonymous with invasion of privacy. But today we travel to a place where the prying press create something more like a prison break.
K-pop is a global juggernaut - with billions in sales and millions of fans hanging on every note, watching K-pop idols synchronize and strut. And that fame rests on a fantasy, K-pop stars have to be chaste and pure, but also … available. Until recently, Korean music agencies and K-pop fans held their pop stars to a strict set of rules designed to keep that fantasy alive. That is, until Dispatch showed up.
Taking a cue from American and British paparazzi, a group of South Korean reporters started hiding in their cars and snapping photos of stars on their secret dates. The first-ever paparazzi photos turned the world of K-pop upside down and introduced sort of a puzzle … how much do you want to know about the people you idolize, and when is enough enough?
Produced by Matthew Kielty and Alexandra Young. Reported by Alexandra Young with Brenna Farrell.
Special Thanks to Dispatch, Haeryun Kang, Joseph Kim, Charlie Cho, Hyena, Crayon Pop, Jeremy Bloom, The Kirukkiruk Guesthouse, Choi Baekseol, Jiin Choi, David Bevan, and The One Shots.
And if, like us, this story leaves you with an insatiable desire to listen to K-pop here is a starter list of our recommendations: