IST Entertainment recently launched its new boy group but has already changed their name.
IST Entertainment is the agency behind the boy group The Boyz and the girl group Apink. Their new boy group is set to debut soon.
The new boy group’s members were selected via the agency’s survival audition program The Origin – A, B, Or What? in collaboration with Kakao TV and MBN. It aired from March 19 to May 7.
It focused on 13 male contestants, born in 2002-2005: Junho, Minseo, Junseok, Junmin, Jinwook, Hyunjun, Daehyun, Donghwa, Rakwon, Seunghwan, Yeonkyu, Bin, and Jaehoon. Ultimately, the seven finalists selected were Seunghwan, Junseok, Rakwon, Junmin, Hyunjun, Donghwa, and Yeonkyu.
Celebrity mentors included GOT7’s leader Jay B, Infinite’s leader Sungkyu, former 2NE1 member Minzy, dancer and choreographers Kwak Yoon Young, and Hwang Gyu Hong.
At the start of May, the new boy group’s name was revealed to be ABO (also stylized as ABØ). It not only referenced the show’s title but was an acronym for “At the Beginning of Originality.” It was meant to communicate the group’s “ambition to be original in the K-pop scene.”
At the Beginning of Originality,
— THE ORIGIN – A, B, Or What? (@THEORIGIN_AorB) May 7, 2022
Yet, immediately it was meant with criticism. K-Pop fans had mixed feelings about it.
ABO – Alpha, Beta, Omega Dynamic
"…however many may not be aware that shortening the term 'Aboriginal' to 'Abo' is highly offensive to Indigenous people due to historical usage and is considered a derogatory term"
— homophobic dog core (@portableslay) May 5, 2022
For some, a fanfiction tag, particularly on Archive of Our Own (AO3), came to mind. “ABO” is short for “Alpha, Beta, Omega.”
i understand the issue with abo being a slur but if you read it and first thing you think is that alfa beta omega thing maybe YOU are the problem… https://t.co/KniczoSUi7
— m 🎪 #GIRLS (@setbeom) May 9, 2022
Most of all, though, many had concerns that the group’s name would be commonly associated with a racial slur. Naturally, they were disturbed.
abo is literally a slur towards aboriginal australians change the name tf https://t.co/byKbqdh3UB
— agust d (@zZyoongs) May 10, 2022
they are trademarking a slur.
— Loona luver (@LuverLoona) May 10, 2022
Netizens pointed out that “ABO” could easily be associated with an offensive slur. It is almost identical to an ethnic slur towards Aboriginal Australians, originating in the early 20th century.
K-Pop fans noted that though the name had a clear differential meaning and pronunciation, it could be potentially problematic.
even if their group name has a different meaning, let's not dismiss the fact that it shouldn't be a kpop name and ist should have thought abt it carefully… that's why a/b/o has a slash and ABO blood system comes together to distinguish the differences from the offensive word.
— ♪ 📌 hyunjun edit ♡ (@baehjun) May 5, 2022
abo is still a slur, guys!!!! a very very offensive slur!!!!! it may not be relevant to your country or culture but there are still a good chunk of people in this world that will be deeply offended by it. please respect lesser known cultures.
— 𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗲 (@victoneus) May 8, 2022
Netizens wished more thorough research had been done before selecting the group’s name.
abo and that’s a slur against indigenous australian people. like why can’t their team do more research on stuff like this…
— jae ✘ ✘ is seing tbz d-1 (@httptxtbz) May 7, 2022
Others made a great effort to educate IST Entertainment on the issue. The group has not quite made their debut yet…
(1) Dear , IST entertainment
As you can see we have heard about the rumors about the final group name of the survival The Origin A B , or what which is a slur against indigenous Australian people.
— ᕱ 교우 ᕱ (@mmdonghwa) May 5, 2022
(3) Please consider about the name you put for the trademark application , we will be glad if IST entertainment would be able to change the name of the new boy group.
With sincere appreciation
— ᕱ 교우 ᕱ (@mmdonghwa) May 5, 2022
So, they hoped it not be too late for IST Entertainment to make a change. So, netizens brought it to the company’s attention via social media and urged them to change the name, even if it was as small as adding periods or slashes in between the letters to differentiate.
— bea (@beaaalorenzo) May 7, 2022
At the end of the month, it was revealed that IST Entertainment had deleted the potential trademarking for “ABO.” They indeed would change the group’s name after all.
IST entertainment has deleted/clear ABO Trademark today 👀 ! That's mean they gonna change the group name!
— ATBØ UPDATES (@ATBO_UPDATES) May 31, 2022
So, netizens’ voices were heard. And everyone was relieved.
Ahhh thank goodness bc before they announced the group name I was expecting something catchy and amazing,,,so when they finally revealed it I was disappointed😅 And also I heard it meant something offensive to some ppl so it definitely needed to be changed 🙂
— ☾✿‿✿☽ Ximena ☾✿‿✿☽ (@_treasuretiny_) June 1, 2022
Finally, on June 3 (KST), IST Entertainment made an official statement via social media in multiple languages, announcing the group’s name change to “ATBO,” keeping the original meaning while still respecting international fans.
We fully understand the international fans’ concerns over how the name ‘ABO’ may be mistaken for the wrong meaning in certain regions, and after internal discussions, we have decided to change the name of the team.
— IST Entertainment
Still, fans had mixed reactions to the news. Many were glad that IST Entertainment listened, while others felt it was the bare minimum.
What do you think about the name change?
Previously, Jay B encouraged Ahgases to support ABØ. Read more below: