Upcoming Boy Group EPEX Under Fire For Insensitive Mental Health Album Title

“This is so gross, mental health isn’t an aesthetic…”

EPEX (short for Eight Apex) is set to be the latest boy group to debut under C9 Entertainment—home to CIX and Cignature. While many K-Pop fans were originally looking forward to their debut this June, EPEX and C9 Entertainment have since come under fire for the group’s mini-album title, which appears to be insensitively using mental health for commercial gain.

For several months now, C9 Entertainment has been teasing EPEX’s imminent debut through the group’s social media channels. All eight members were revealed on social media back in March, and they’ve been rapidly gaining pre-debut fans. However, things took a turn last week when the group’s debut mini-album title was revealed—it was titled BIPOLAR Pt.1: Prelude of Anxiety.

While the adjective “bipolar” was originally used to describe entities with two poles or extremes, it’s now most commonly used as a shortened version of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by two alternating mental states: periods of depression and periods of mania.

This serious disorder affects around 1 to 3% of the population, and most people with the condition suffer from numerous negative effects in their daily lives, from extreme sadness and fatigue to impulsive behavior and even hallucinations. Former WINNER member Nam Taehyun is one of the few Korean stars to openly reveal his bipolar disorder diagnosis.

Nam Taehyun

Likewise, while anxiety is an emotion that everyone experiences from time to time, the term also refers to anxiety disorders—a cluster of mental health problems characterized by extreme anxiousness in various situations.

Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health conditions across the world, encompassing issues such as generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia. Numerous idols temporarily suspended their activities over the past few years due to anxiety disorder, including LOONA‘s HaseulNU’EST‘s Aron, TWICE‘s Mina, and Oh My Girl‘s Jiho.

TWICE’s Mina | JYP Entertainment

Unsurprisingly, fans across social media were shocked and disappointed to see EPEX and C9 Entertainment using serious conditions as the title of a mini album. Many criticized them for using mental health conditions as an “aesthetic” or exploiting them for commercial gain, likening the move to the appropriation of cultures.

Some fans who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder themselves or have family members with the condition also expressed their discomfort with the inappropriate choice of the album title.

Others explained that while it’s great when K-Pop groups bring awareness to mental health, especially for fans going through their own troubles, it seems wrong for idols to use these conditions as concepts if they don’t suffer from them themselves. As of now, C9 Entertainment has not divulged whether any of the EPEX members have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or anxiety.

And many are unsure why the group and agency chose the title to begin with. One fan clarified that bipolar does not mean “unpredictable” or “changing” as some incorrectly assume, while another was concerned that the group’s debut song may make light of anxiety.

Ultimately, K-Pop fans are calling on C9 Entertainment to release a statement of their intent with Bipolar Pt. 1: Prelude to Anxiety, an apology to those with mental health conditions, or both. EPEX is set to release the debut mini-album and untitled lead single on June 8, 2021.

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