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Forced Appearances on ISAC

Leaked photos might mean that BTS won't get air time on ISAC? At this point, everyone on twitter has probably seen warnings about this.

This concern was brought to my attention by Jjang Jjang Man Bboong Bboong and in this post I'll treat issues both of air time problems but more generally of corruption within the Korean entertainment industry using ISAC as a prime example.

 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports



For all the newcomers to Kpop, let's start basic.

ISAC is the Idol Star Athletic Championships held and broadcasted by MBC since 2010.

Nowadays it's filmed and aired twice a year. First in February for the Lunar New Year and once in September for Chuseok. It's usually filmed a few weeks before airing.

 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports

Idols are split into teams and compete in different Olympic sports for medals.

It's a great opportunity especially for newer idols to distinguish themselves and get noticed if they're good at sports.​

I attended ISAC in 2011, which was one of the more problematic years, during which the program was especially criticised for treating idols and fans poorly. They have since changed format, and conditions have improved, but there are still many problems concerning ISAC and I'll talk about a few of them here.



 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports

When ISAC is being filmed, fans gather in masses to support their favourite stars and get lots of fan-idol interaction.

Having been there myself, I can honestly say that ISAC is a bit like a massive fansign events with hundreds of idols and thousands of fans and a lot of fan service and cross group's interactions.

Naturally, everything is recorded by the fans. Thousands of photos are snapped, videos by the hundreds and, as we know with photos and videos of our idols, they always end up on fan sites and twitter.

Now this is where the panic comes in:

People have been saying that idols' air time on ISAC will suffer if fans circulate photos and videos from the event before the broadcast.

This has proven to be true in the past, when MBC have cut certain parts out from the final airing because of prior leaks, but there are a few things to consider both in relation to this and in relation to how fans posting photos from the event will affect BTS's airtime.

 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports

1. When fans share photos real time during the event it often means that fan masters and other fans taking photos are thrown out as a result (hence less photos and videos for us to marvel at later on).

 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports

When this happens, people from the same fan club are usually thrown out. So if a lot of ARMY post real time, ARMY fansite masters and the like who take photos but don't share them real time might be thrown out during the event.

2. MBC don't want the photos and videos circulating until the broadcast date because they don't want the results to be leaked. Their main issue with it is that people might not watch the broadcast!

J-Hope Jung Hoseok BTS Bangtan crying in korean meme funny

3. Having a few photos circulating is also good for MBC, as it promotes the show, but the key is that they don't want the outcomes and fun moments that they want to air to be leaked beforehand!

That's why they threaten fans with the prospect of having their idols' time cut short, and why they have cut segments in the past too.

4. BTS are now well established and broadcast stations are acknowledging this by giving them more air time.

Suga Min Yoongi nodding cutely and satisfied BTS Bangtan

MBC knows that cutting down air time for groups like BTS or EXO, will bring a lot of angry fans, but more importantly, their ratings will suffer.

​The cut of air time is a scare tactic that MBC uses to control the huge crowd of fans. As long as results aren't shared and as long as too many photos of videos don't circulate, then they won't make drastic changes in their editing with senior idols like BTS.

Junior idols are at bigger risk of being cut for things like that (this is also happened to BTS when they weren't as well known).

I see pictures on twitter pop up, but a lot of fans are (thankfully) taking a distance and not Retweeting. Also, compared to previous years, I don't see as many photos at this point, which is a good improvement.

 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports

Overall: I don't think we have much to worry about concerning BTS's air time, as long as we continue to keep a distance from the posted photos and don't repost and retweet them until the show has been broadcasted.

(So please don't do that as we don't want to create a problem we're there isn't one!)

Not that BTS seem to care. V low-key revealed the results on twitter of one of the competitions, blaming his failure on being left-handed.

Why don't BTS care? Well they're seniors there now and they're pretty much just there at this point because they have to be.

The issue of sharing photos from the event is what made me start this post, but there is a much darker and bigger issue hiding beneath the surface of ISAC that I need to address!

It starts with a simpler issue...




ISAC has repeatedly been criticised because idols are often injured during the recording. This year the staff mentioned safety as their main concern and had medical staff on call in case anything happened.​

This also shows in the choice of sports. Futsal (football on a small indoor field) was removed this year, as that's the sport that usually causes the most injuries, and replaced with aerobic dance.

 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports

But despite the frequent injuries, idols still continue to come out on the show... why?

And why don't BTS care about the rules and about winning this year?




This is the main issue with ISAC, and many other programs, and it's my main reason for wanting to write this post.

 gif Idol Star Athletic Championships BTS Bangtan sports  Kim Heechul

Super Junior's Kim Heechul, who is known to fans for always speaking his mind no matter who it offends and for giving many inside information on the shady Kpop industry, stated a few years ago that idols appear on ISAC in order to not get on the bad side of MBC, the broadcasting station that organises ISAC.

MBC then responded to this saying that the program where Heechul voiced his opinion was known for making such statements, so they didn't feel the need to comment. They said that sometimes idols have other schedules, but they didn't actually deny the accusation.

This is something that's known to happen a lot in the Korean entertainment industry.