Male trainee speaks up about older female sponsors

Anna Park, April 20, 2016, 5:20 p.m.

With the constant attention on sponsorship/prostitution rings involving female Korean entertainers, which includes K-pop girl group members and idol hopefuls as well as actresses and models, the public tends to overlook the fact that male trainees are also victims of such sponsorships as well.

According to a report by a Korean media outlet, a male trainee has stepped forward to share his story of sponsorship from a rich, older female. The 24-year-old trainee revealed, "The sponsors start by giving you an allowance in small increments such as $80, $100, $200. Then, suddenly they'll give a larger amount," citing his own experience as his ajumma sponsor had sent him $1000 at one point. He continued, "I was shocked and even asked her if it was okay for me to accept such a large amount, to which she said, 'It's for you, just take it. You know you have things to spend it on."

The story doesn't end there. The male trainee further shared that four months into the sponsorship, his "sugar mama" would text him messages along the lines of, "I'm so lonely these days. Can you come over?" When he would bring up the topic of her husband, she would reassure him by stating that her husband is away on a business trip and that he wouldn't be home. The trainee revealed, "They request skinship or for you to spend the day with them. They're very direct with what they want and go as far as asking you o come and be with them."

He continued, "I realized that [the sponsorship] was wrong. Although I had already accepted the money, I knew that this wasn't right. I promised to pay back all I owed her once I became successful if she would just stop contacting me. Then she showed me all the bank transactions of when she sent me money, saying, 'I gave you all this and you betray me?'"

From an outside perspective, it may seem easy to reject such offers, however, as an idol group trainee with no job and bills to pay, the sponsorship offer may seem harmless and even moreso, promising. The male trainee confessed, "I realize how crazy all of this is, but you don't realize that in the moment, especially when everyone around you is saying, 'Just take it, take it. She's offering to sponsor you, so why not?' I ended up receiving about [$20-30,000 USD]. I have no money saved up, there's no real work that I can do, and all that's building up is my debt to my sponsor."

What are your thoughts on the reality behind sponsorships in the entertainment world? Was it surprising to hear that male trainees are vicitims to this reality, too?

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