K-pop Confidential by Stephan Lee, #73 review

Publication date : 15 September 2020

Candace Park knows a lot about playing a role. For most of her life, she’s been playing the role of the quiet Korean girl who takes all AP classes and plays a classical instrument, keeping her dreams of stardom-and her obsession with SLK, K-pop’s top boyband-to herself. She doesn’t see how a regular girl like her could possibly become one of those K-pop goddesses she sees on YouTube. Even though she can sing. Like, really sing.

So when Candace secretly enters a global audition held by SLK’s music label, the last thing she expects is to actually get a coveted spot in their trainee program. And convincing her strict parents to let her to go is all but impossible … although it’s nothing compared to what comes next.

Under the strict supervision of her instructors at the label’s headquarters in Seoul, Candace must perfect her performance skills to within an inch of her life, learn to speak Korean fluently, and navigate the complex hierarchies of her fellow trainees, all while following the strict rules of the industry. Rule number one? NO DATING, which becomes impossible to follow when she meets a dreamy boy trainee. And in the all-out battle to debut, Candace is in danger of planting herself in the middle of a scandal lighting up the K-pop fandom around the world.

If she doesn’t have what it takes to become a perfect, hair-flipping K-pop idol, what will that mean for her family, who have sacrificed everything to give her the chance? And is a spot in the most hyped K-pop girl group of all time really worth risking her friendships, her future, and everything she believes in?



– intended to be kept secret

Candace is a fifteen-year-old Korean American teen who is obsessed with K-Pop, particularly the boy group SLK which consists of five members. Her Ultimate Bias (favourite member of all groups) is One.J. After secretly auditioning to be a trainee for the newest girl group by S.A.Y Entertainment, she got the spot! Out of thousands of applications.

There is only one thing Candace does best, she can sing. She is an artist with a hidden voice and songwriting skills. The rest of that K-Pop package? None, nada. Which is why when she arrives in Seoul, Korea for the training, it is literal hell. For one, her Korean is the vocab of a toddler. Next, she does not have the talent for dancing. Furthermore, by the high standards of the Korean industry, her petite figure is not ideal for symmetry and vision in K-Pop. There are many rules in training, one being – absolutely no dating. What will happen to that rule and her dream of debuting as an Idol when she gets to know her fellow trainee, YoungBae. HIS FREAKING NAME HAS “bae” IN IT! On top of that, she fulfils the dream of every SNL fan, she meets worldwide K-Pop superstar OneJ. Take a moment for that to sink in. All the drama. *cues exploding sound effect*

“You are worth so much. No one can decide your value.”

An umma’s (mom) words , K-Pop Confidential

For Candace to survive training and stand a chance to debut, she must harden her heart, ice her blood and strengthen herself from the very core of her soul. She must not subject to her human emotions and give in to the robotic movement of the music industry. I think Candace is a character that reflects young female trainees or people starting in the music industry. No matter how many rocks that are thrown her way, she tries her best to not forget that she is still loved by people who truly matter, not a bunch of old men in suits sitting in a conference room judging her based on looks. She never forgets her tongue and how to snap back when others bite.

The book ends on a high, which was quite like the epic ending to an intense K-drama where the rollercoaster rides on higher and higher until it drops but that wave of acceleration wasn’t quite what you hoped it would be. It was abrupt and quick. A footstep that wakes you up from the daydream.

I love how the author addresses all the misogyny and sexism in the music industry. It is a funny thing, we see it on tabloids, on websites, all over the Internet. Most of us don’t question the two different treatments and WORLDS for the two sex and just go with the flow. Read it, judge, criticize, hate on it. There’s a different vocabulary in the music industry worldwide for women. There’s an outrageously high standard set for women, you have one thing that they are looking for but you will lack another thing that they want from you. They will squeeze you dry until you cannot possibly give them more and yet, they will say that it is not enough. It is fucking impossible. Especially with the Korean culture that K-Pop Idols belong to the fans, their lives are on display in the crystal dazzling fishbowl for all to point. Yes, we get the point that being famous has a price to pay – no privacy. However, with that cultural mindset that has been passed down from decade to the next, the rule of “No Dating” is more harmful to the Idol. They are human, they have emotions. They are not a doll that puppets based on your commands. WHich may be confusing because all Idols LOOK flawless and doll-like thanks to Korean fashion and cosmetics. It is a scandal for Idols to date, a betrayal to their fans. More so, it is the female Idols that suffer more backlash from psychotic media.

If you like K-drama, K-Pop, everything Korean, you will enjoy the intensity and thrill in the book. Not to mention the fashion, the friendship and process of growing. If you don’t like K-Pop, I still encourage you to read this book to learn about all the sweat and tears that goes into being an artist. Also, the Korean representation is really on point here. Debak

Thank you to @definitelybooks for sending this book to me, you can find it at all good bookstores. #pansing

By elysianbooksish

The Bookish Faerie who loves to read and write, and bake too

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