HYBE is being criticized by netizens after facing controversy over the inappropriate styling of underage idols in both of its new girl groups this year, LE SSERAFIM and NewJeans.
Recently, the company’s sublabel ADOR came under fire for debuting minors in its new girl group NewJeans. Even though the debut of underage idols has become an increasingly controversial issue in the K-Pop industry, NewJeans are still set to make their debut on August 1 with members aged 14-17.
This has drawn the attention of many fans who feel that it is wrong for children to be introduced into a toxic industry when they aren’t yet mentally equipped to deal with the pressures that come from having a career as idols.
One such pressure is often caused by the inappropriate way in which underaged idols are often presented by the industry. Oversexualized styling, for one, has led many idols, even those who are adults, to be put in many uncomfortable situations. Currently, ADOR and its CEO, Min Hee Jin, are under fire for the inappropriate styling of the members of NewJeans, who were seen wearing t-shirts with questionable designs and making suggestive poses that fans feel are inappropriate for the girls’ age.
As Min Hee Jin comes under scrutiny for her past management of underaged idols, her handling of the young members of NewJeans is being called even further into question.
Yet, ADOR and Min Hee Jin are not the only ones under HYBE to have received criticism for the styling of a newly debuted girl group. Source Music‘s LE SSERAFIM had decidedly a mature concept and styling for their debut song “Fearless,” despite two of the members being 15 and 16 (Kim Garam, who is 16, has left the group since then following bullying allegations). When “Fearless” was first released, netizens raised strong concerns about a certain move in the group’s choreography.
— Manifesting Blackpink AUGUST comeback ✨🙏🏼 (@jis00preme) May 2, 2022
Fortunately, the move was replaced for the live performances.
The live choreo for Le Sserafim’s Fearless has completely different choreo compared to their music video, thankfully.
It is still very weird that hybe included THAT move in the official music video tho since Eunchae and Garam are still minors and it should be removed/editted out pic.twitter.com/EZUFnzKMhj
— C (@129Joon) May 2, 2022
Yet, HYBE and Source Music still came under fire for the way they styled the members, and not only the minors. The choreography involves many moves that often expose the members’ safety shorts, so netizens were surprised to see that LE SSERAFIM went on stage wearing extremely short skirts and dresses.
Fans pointed out that when the members, especially the underage ones, are stylized and made to act in a way that does not befit their age, it exposes them much more to sexual harassment.
I had a bad feeling about [the outfits] since the teaser dropped. But I did not think they would wear such things on stage, too. These outfits are honestly horrendous. [The members] are going to be even more exposed to sexual harassment now.
As the debate over the practice of debuting children as idols continues, fans are looking to see change come to the industry, perhaps beginning with the upcoming debut of 26-year-old SM Entertainment rookie, Shohei. Until then, K-Pop companies will at least hopefully start to take more responsibility for the way they present their underaged idols.
Read further about the issue right here.