Earlier this week, Behaviour Interactive revealed it’s introducing the world of K-pop to Dead by Daylight. All-Kill, the new upcoming chapter, will star K-pop idol Ji-Woon — otherwise known as The Trickster — as the latest killer, while Yun-Jin — the producer of the group Ji-Woon was a part of before he killed every member — is the newest addition to the roster of survivors. It’s not all that often that the worlds of gaming and K-pop, my two biggest interests, collide. But this latest instance is a wonderful example of that happening, as well as being done right.
Behaviour collaborated with U-KISS member Kevin Woo and DJ Swivel, a Grammy-winning music producer who has worked with BTS, to make sure they got the intricacies of K-pop culture correct. And they undeniably have, with references to things like photocards and all-kills — terms only K-pop fans are familiar with. While having so much care and attention to detail is completely in line with the history of Behaviour’s asymmetrical horror giant, it almost feels like a waste for this to be the extent of that collaboration. While I’m not suggesting Dead by Daylight becomes The K-pop Asymmetrical Horror Game, if Behaviour ever wants to expand its K-pop-infused lore, I have a few ideas for other K-pop killers and survivors. I certainly have more than just five, but I’ll start with that number. It’s the name of one of the best Apink songs, after all.
The road to becoming a K-pop idol isn’t easy. It typically requires someone to audition in-person or virtually, showcasing visuals, charms, and a strong display of talent in singing and dancing. Even if someone walks in excelling in all departments, there’s no guarantee that they will stand out among the hundreds hoping to debut as an idol one day. If they pass the auditions, they’re in for anywhere between several months to many years of arduous training. Living the life of a trainee is so notoriously difficult for most that many trainees leave before getting the small chance to debut — sometimes even several years in. The idea of a heartbroken trainee, crushed over not being able to fulfill a dream they worked so hard to achieve in a hyper-competitive industry, in Dead by Daylight feels perfectly possible. Since the game’s lore is no stranger to sympathetic characters on both sides, I can easily see them as a killer or survivor.
Survival Show Participant
K-pop survival reality shows like Sixteen, Produce 101, QUEENDOM, Mix Nine, and Idol School have achieved plenty of popularity over the last several years. They have produced groups like Twice, I.O.I, IZ*ONE, fromis_9, and more, and helped some already debuted but previously underrated groups, like Oh My Girl, get more attention. Most of these shows, like much of reality TV in general, have been embroiled in controversy over things like audience manipulation, bullying among participants, and the hijacking of results. In 2019, a large-scale vote-rigging investigation was conducted for Produce 101, leading to multiple arrests by its end. Participating in these shows can be, and has been, extremely difficult for many hopeful trainees. I can imagine Dead by Daylight taking this knowledge of K-pop survival shows and making a participant be a killer or survivor.
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Sasaengs are actually real and extremely harmful. They’re known as obsessive fans who stalk idols, having little to no regard for their personal boundaries and privacy. They often have little regard for the law, as well, since many of their acts can be constituted as crimes done in the name of getting an idol’s attention — good or bad. From missing school to see their favorite idols to camping outside their dorms, following an idol group’s van in a sasaeng taxi, and, in rare cases, physically assaulting them for a moment of acknowledgment, they have few limits. The typical sasaeng is a girl or woman anywhere from the ages 17 to 22, though there are younger and older sasaengs, as well as many male sasaengs. Sasaeng fans are frightening for any idol group member; to them, they have more in common with anti-fans than fans. I can’t imagine a sasaeng as a survivor, but as a killer? Absolutely. It’s not like they haven’t come pretty close a few times in the past, unfortunately.
Cute Idol Tired of Their Innocent Concept
In K-pop, every group has a concept — and one of the few certainties of the industry is that the cute and innocent concept for girl groups will never go away. While more girl groups — like my favorite group ITZY — are debuting with different concepts, this image is largely pushed onto them, especially when they’re young. One of the most popular groups in the industry, Apink, took over five years to completely let go of the cute, soft image for a more mature style. Some women in the industry become understandably frustrated over the pressure to always seem innocent and pure, especially if they’re well into their 20s. I love the idea of a cute killer who is a girl group member that is fed up with the industry’s insistence on this restrictive image; who wants to subvert expectations.
Idols are usually assigned managers who do everything from driving them to scheduled appearances to accompanying them in public and living with them in their dorms. Being a K-pop group’s manager is a job with a level of hardship that is well-documented, even when there are several managers for a group. At times, they have to work 14-hour days as they wait for idols to finish filming, performing, doing photoshoots, and the many other activities they have to do. And those at the lower levels can have an average monthly salary of a mere $1,000 to $1,500. An overworked and exploited manager as a furious killer or a poor survivor in Dead by Daylight? Might be more easily imagined than you previously thought. The reality for them is often scary enough.