Since the 1990s, Korean pop music (K-pop) has progressively captured the attention and admiration of individuals across the globe. However, beyond the shining figure of the K-pop idol there lies a dark process and belief system. K-pop is a hybridized blend of Western and Eastern value systems representing a traditional working framework and fusing it with modern principles. As of 2018, the World Population Review ranked Korea as the country with the fourth highest suicide rate, averaging 28.3 suicides per every 100,000 deaths. In addition, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that over one-third of the South Korean population has had a mental disorder at any point in their lives, and over one-fifth have experienced a disorder in the last year.
Idol uncovers mental illness as a result of K-pop through a complete album kit composed of a poster, CD, and 27 collectable cards. Each piece is constructed from clear plastic and packaged within a commercial display case as a call to action for transparency within the Korean music industry. The contents of the kit delve into the phenomenon of K-pop and question its factory-making system, definitions of femininity and masculinity, globalization, society and the home’s stigma around mental illness, and how each of these have manifested serious mental health issues amongst Korea’s young stars.