The age-old debate about whether men and women can maintain platonic relationships has resurfaced in the K-Pop world, thanks to a recent discussion between SHINee‘s members Taemin, Key, and Minho. The debate had already previously gained attention when BLACKPINK‘s Jisoo expressed her own strong opinion on it, so it’s not surprising that it’s once again a hot topic.
The fandom, however, is in a frenzy as some misinterpreted Taemin’s stance, resulting in quite a lot of backlash from netizens online. But Shawols quickly jumped to his defense and gave further explanation — leaving no place for debate.
The trio was seen in a recent YouTube video discussing the lyrics of their song “One For Me.” The song portrays a male protagonist harboring romantic feelings for a female friend, who, in turn, seeks comfort from him after a breakup. This spurred a debate over whether it’s appropriate for the protagonist to express his romantic feelings at this time.
The members soon found themselves taking opposing sides. Taemin opined that the girl’s act of calling the protagonist for comfort was a form of flirting, suggesting that men and women can’t simply be friends. Key, on the other hand, disagreed based on his own close friendship with Girls’ Generation‘s Taeyeon.
Taemin: But she called saying she broke up crying. She is sobbing and saying, ‘Comfort me.’ That, I think is flirting itself.
Key: Huh? She might not mean it that way.
Taemin: I don’t think guys and girls can be friends.
Key: I can even do half-body bath with Taeyeon.
After the clip was posted on Twitter, it created a wave of backlash against Taemin, with some netizens criticizing his viewpoint. One user wrote, “Taemin just gave me the craziest ick what is this,” while another opined, “The ‘can men and women be friends’ discourse is alive in the minds of men who are only capable of viewing women as potential romantic interests.”
The ‘can men and women be friends’ discourse is alive in the minds of men who are only capable of viewing women as potential romantic/ sexual interests and in people who think of the gender binary as an extreme case of separation- women are from venus, men are from mars. https://t.co/C9YUAmk7Ye
— did you lose your horanghae babygirl (@k_oticgay) July 24, 2023
However, dedicated fans were quick to rush to Taemin’s defense. They pointed out that Taemin was not necessarily reflecting his personal views but merely embodying a character who hates relationships from the song they were discussing. Taemin himself later admitted in the video that he was opposing all relationships just for the sake of the discussion.
SHINee’s fans further noted that it was common for Taemin to contradict Key’s opinions, often “trolling” him for comedic effect. One fan explained the clip calling it a “silly, staged conversation.”
The quotes don’t get that this is just a silly staged conversation about old song lyrics. He took the unserious position that he hates all relationships and is just trolling key & contradicting him for fun. It’s a dumb joke for comedy & qrts can’t even tell the difference😭 https://t.co/eFnbwWVvEx
— 🌱5prout (mostly ia) (@la5prout) July 24, 2023
Another corroborated this view, adding that others should watch the full video before jumping to conclusions.
The comment is stupid but if you watch the video they were discussing their old song lyrics and the joke was taemin trying to find flaws with the relationship they were talking about because he wanted to oppose all relationships. It's a dumb joke in an unserious segment https://t.co/5VEGPeNMw5 pic.twitter.com/SlUupmjhwh
— taemin's jaw mole (@toffehabnina) July 24, 2023
While debates over such topics continue to emerge, it is important to understand the context in which they are made. It appears that Taemin’s comments may have been misunderstood, as his fans believe he was merely playing a character for the purpose of the discussion.