Twice’s Ready To Be: Casting Light on the K-pop Industry

How Twice’s newest album has a groundbreaking message for the K-pop world


Capturing your heart Twice: once through the ears, and twice through the eyes. Composed of members Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu, the girl group Twice debuted in 2015 and have since become one of the most popular Kpop groups out there. Their hits “TT,” “Cheer Up,” “Likey,” and “Feel Special” have gained them nearly 2 billion Spotify streams. And now they’re back with their newest album, Ready To Be, as a wake-up call for the reality of the K-pop industry.

Twice in their “Set Me Free” MV

Though Twice’s original concept leans cute and fun and takes loads of inspiration from the genre of bubblegum pop, the tracks on Ready To Be deviate from this standard—mainly including songs in the genres of R&B, disco, and rock.

In the title track “Set Me Free,” Twice sings about breaking free of social standards and reaching for more than what society expects from them. The K-pop industry often depicts girls as hyper-feminine which can be extremely limiting and encouraging of harmful stereotypes. However, multiple scenes in Twice’s new music video depict the members getting rid of jewelry or uncomfortable clothing in exchange for more comfortable and better suited apparel—an interesting social commentary. 

Unlike the Western music industry, potential K-pop group members or soloists are recruited by talent scouts, enter auditions held by entertainment companies, or participate in competition survival shows, the last of which is how Twice was formed. In any case, trainees don’t choose their fellow members, what concept their group will have, or even their group’s name. And once the group is formed it is very rare that they write their own songs or choreograph their own dances; the company is usually in charge. 

Because of this, many artists within the industry are pressured to look and act a certain way in alignment with their content or what their company wants.

Because of this, many artists within the industry are pressured to look and act a certain way in alignment with their content or what their company wants. After all, the success they’ve achieved is all thanks to their management, and Twice are victims of this industry too. Many Twice fans noticed that Jeongyeon, despite being one of the main singers in the group, consistently received very few lines because she “didn’t fit the [group’s] cute concept.” It is also worth noting that in the “Set Me Free” music video, Jeongyeon still got the least amount of screentime out of all the members, and fans noticed that she was the only member who got less than 10 seconds of solo screentime—all this just because she “didn’t align” with the company’s desires. 

As a result of this pressure, many idols are forced to undergo strict diets and dangerous plastic surgeries to be physically appealing to their audience. Twice’s Momo once stated in a livestream that she was forced to eat only ice for a week just because she had a concert and needed to lose weight. Obviously, this takes a huge toll on the idols’ physical and mental health, leading to countless departures from groups and permanent retirement from entertainment.

Twice currently on their Ready To Be tour

Subsequently, fans speculate that Twice, after undergoing this treatment for years, is releasing Ready To Be as a statement that they’re leaving the idol life behind to pursue other ventures, free from their entertainment company.

While I personally do not believe Twice will disband, I think their new album could be a sign that they are moving into a new era, as they are “ready to be” something bigger than what their company designated them to be.

Whether or not this is true, Ready To Be is a statement identifying the problems in the Korean entertainment industries, and it’s time we listen.