9 Muses of Star Empire

The opening scenes promise a backstage look at the South Korean girl group 9 Muses, but this 2012 documentary is really about the culture industry’s transformation of young women into marketable commodities. Director Hark-Joon Lee coolly observes as producers, managers, and record company executives determine every aspect of the young singers’ lives, rehearse them past the point of exhaustion, and berate them about their lack of commitment. Over the course of the movie a few members suffer emotional breakdowns and quit the group—when they do, Lee cuts to scenes of the group’s handlers vetting photos of similar-looking girls to replace them. In Korean with subtitles.