Why So Many Idols Smoke, According To A Former K-Pop Trainee

Why So Many Idols Smoke, According To A Former K-Pop Trainee

Why So Many Idols Smoke, According To A Former K-Pop Trainee

“Smoking is actually quite common — more common than I think people would think.”

Over the years, numerous stars have been caught with cigarettes or seen with vape pens — but what makes smoking so common among idols? In a recent TikTok video, former K-Pop trainee Bianca Zhou revealed two of the most common reasons why K-Pop stars smoke or vape.

Earlier this year, NCT’s Taeyong was seen with a vape in a behind-the-scenes picture. | NHK

Smoking is actually quite common — more common than I think people would think,” explained Bianca, who trained with SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment coaches. While marijuana is strictly forbidden in Korea, the country does have a culture around smoking and vaping nicotine. “Also,” says Bianca, “a lot of K-Pop idols come from other countries like China, the USA, and Japan, where the smoking culture is more prevalent.

Fans spotted a vape in a recent picture of NCT’s Johnny | @nctsmtown/Twitter

But why would idols, whose livelihoods often depend on their vocals, choose to light up, given how harmful it can be to their health?

According to the former trainee, for male idols, it’s all about hitting those low notes. Some boy group stars believe that smoking could drop their voice an octave or two, add that sought-after raspy edge, or even help them radiate a more mature aura.

It’s surprisingly common for singers to smoke, specifically for male idols and trainees. A lot of male idols and trainees think that smoking will help lower their voice and give them a deeper tone, even if it actually doesn’t.

— Bianca Zhou

BTS’s V, known for his deep voice, has been spotted with vapes several times. | Celine

The other reason, according to Bianca, is universal among idols of all genders.

Some idols,” she explained, “use nicotine to stay awake during their long hours of filming and dance rehearsals.” No one can deny that celebrity schedules in Korea can be punishing. The former trainee went on to say that music video shoots can last up to the early hours of the morning, from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m., and that “the majority of being a K-pop idol, performing is just waiting backstage, waiting for stuff to happen.”

There’s a stereotype in the entertainment industry called ‘hurry up and wait’. It’s where they want you to hurry everywhere, but you just get there and you have to wait.

— Bianca Zhou

Dreamcatcher’s Yoohyeon was recently spotted holding a vape in a now-deleted video. | Pan Nate

So, a lot of trainees and idols might end up using nicotine just to wake themselves up,” says Bianca. Somyia former member of THERErecently hit back at fans who criticized her for posting a photo of herself smoking on Instagram.

Former DIA member Somyi | @somsom_oOo/Instagram

Naturally, many fans are concerned to learn their favorite idol smokes or vapes, even if it’s only occasionally. The risks of smoking are well documented, and anyone can suffer the ill effects. Bianca believes “it’s not your job to police [idols]” and that fans should accept that idols and trainees are people too, but many continue to take a stance against the habit.