Red Velvet Irene’s Fans Call Out SM Entertainment’s Artist Activity Plan For 2023

“BETTER TREATMENT FOR IRENE” went up to #13 on Twitter’s Worldwide trends.

In SM Entertainment’s latest video around HYBE’s share acquisition, the two CEOs of the company — Lee Sung Soo and Tak Young Jun — answered fan questions regarding the new era of “SM 3.0”.

Among other inquiries, the pair shared a list of upcoming artist activities (including albums, fan meetings, concerts, and world tours) that the company has planned for 2023. While many were overjoyed to see their favorite artists on the roster, the list is causing a commotion in online communities as numerous fans express their disappointment with the lineup.

SM Entertainment’s Artist Activity Plan for 2023 | SMTOWN/YouTube

In particular, fans of Red Velvet’s Irene are speaking up about the company’s plans.

Red Velvet’s Irene | Bubble

As a group, Red Velvet appeared twice in SM Entertainment’s 2023 activity lineup, with both a highly anticipated full album and a world tour in the plans this year. Main vocalist Wendy, who debuted as a soloist back in 2022, will also be returning with a solo mini-album.

Notably missing, however, were Irene and Yeri, neither of whom has had a solo debut yet.

The upset among Irene’s fans was so high that within hours of the video’s release on SM’s YouTube channel, her name began trending on Twitter. “BETTER TREATMENT FOR IRENE” even made it up to #13 on Twitter’s Worldwide trends.

It seems that ReVeluvs have been frustrated with Irene’s lack of solo activities for a while now, repeatedly voicing on social media how much they miss her in-between group comebacks. According to fans, despite her popularity over the years, the Red Velvet star has had very few solo activities.

Outside of Red Velvet, her main line of individual work has been brand deals. Since before her debut, Irene has been featured in pictorials and commercials for some of the nation’s biggest brands. Notably, however, these deals are usually initiated by the brands themselves, meaning few of Irene’s activities have been orchestrated by SM Entertainment.

Since debut, fans note that Irene has only released two solo songs: “The Only,” a feature with SM Entertainment’s then-new signing Raiden, and “A White Night” — an OST for her movie debut, Double Patty.

This makes Irene the only Red Velvet member who has never been featured in the company’s SM Station project, which gives SM Entertainment artists the opportunity to release solo songs and collaborations outside of their usual comebacks.

Last year, fans were delighted to see Irene star in Irene’s Work & Holiday, a solo reality show which garnered interest from fans and non-fans alike. Each episode of the show surpassed four million views on Seezn’s international counterpart, SIG.TV, gaining the highest viewership on the platform.

Unfortunately, SIG.TV was permanently shut down just weeks later, making it impossible for international ReVeluvs to rewatch the show. Alongside complaints that SM Entertainment failed to promote Irene’s Work & Holiday on social media, the decision to release the show on a dying platform only fuelled the frustrations among fans.

Now, fans say that Irene’s exclusion from SM Entertainment’s 2023 activity roster is the latest in a long line of mismanagement and mistreatment concerns. In recent years, Irene has expressed her interest in releasing music as a soloist several times. When asked about the possibility of a solo debut during fan video calls, Irene has repeatedly answered positively, expressing that she hopes to have more project opportunities in the future because she wants to meet ReVeluvs more frequently.

A solo album? If there is a chance, I’d want to do it.

— Red Velvet’s Irene

Irene is undeniably a talented performer, having proven her skills in both singing and dancing as a member of Red Velvet and one half of Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi, her unit with fellow member Seulgi.

Likewise, Irene has sizable fanbases in South Korea and overseas. She has almost 1 million Chinese fans on the popular platform Weibo despite having no activities in China, along with almost 11 million followers on Instagram. Across social media, fans continue to express support for all of her solo projects, from emceeing to acting to singing.

Irene’s most liked post on Instagram with 3 million likes. | @renebaebae/Instagram

Between her talent and her popularity, fans believe the company has no legitimate reason to keep her from becoming a soloist, leaving many confused as to why she still has no solo planned in her 9th year since debut.

That being said, SM Entertainment’s “The Era of SM 3.0, Fans Ask and SM Answers” video does state that the company’s artist activity plan may be subject to change. Looking forward, fans continue to hope that Irene’s wish to debut as a soloist will be granted soon.

Red Velvet