Korean Netizens’ Take On Why “R U Next?” Fan Favorite Jiwoo Didn’t Debut In I’LL-IT Seemingly Showcases The Reality Of The K-Pop Industry

“Jiwoo would’ve been eliminated right away if…”

Korean netizens have weighed in on why R U Next? fan favorite Jiwoo didn’t make the final lineup, and it seemingly cements an ongoing problem being raised in K-Pop.

“R U Next?” poster | Weverse

After weeks of performances for the collaboration between HYBE and JTBC to debut a new BE:LIFT LAB girl group, the final aired, and the six members who would debut in the new group I’LL-IT were announced.

It included fan picks Wonhee and Youngseo, along with label picks Minju, Iroha, Moka, and Yunah. When the final finished, the new group shared photos on their new social media pages.

The final lineup for I’LL-IT | @ILLIT_twt/Twitter
| @ILLIT_twt/Twitter

While it was meant to be a happy occasion, international fans were less favorable towards the debuting lineup, with many even accusing HYBE and BELIFT LAB of manipulating and rigging the show. In particular, many were angry that fan favorite Jiwoo didn’t debut.

“R U Next?” contestant Jiwoo | Weverse

During the show, Jiwoo was the oldest trainee and had the longest training period, of around 3-4 years. For many, Jiwoo was the perfect person to join the lineup and lead the team with her experience and all-around talent.



After the final, netizens couldn’t hide their reactions to Jiwoo not debuting.

Yet, it seems that while international netizens were angry and shocked at the result, it was more predictable for Korean netizens. In a post on a Korean forum shared shortly after the final, netizens shared their own thoughts on why Jiwoo didn’t debut, and most were about her age.

Although Jiwoo was only born in 2001, her status as the oldest trainee seemed to have impacted her ability to debut.

| Nate Pann
  • “Doesn’t she look too old? How old is she, though, for real?”
  • “She’s the oldest, and she doesn’t have the girl group image.”
  • “Jiwoo would’ve been eliminated right away if it weren’t for the overseas votes. The overseas fans were pushing her as the vocal member/mom role/leader, but Yoona is good at taking care of the members, and Minju or Wonhee are fine for vocal positions. So basically, her position can be easily filled by another member, and so as an agency, they didn’t need her.

In particular, as Korean votes were prioritized over international fans for the first two picks, Jiwoo’s age sadly would’ve played a major factor in the outcome. When the Korean forum was shared, international netizens shared their anger at the opinions.

Many pointed out that it seemed unfair to ruin someone’s chances of debuting for their age, especially with growing concerns about minors debuting. Others also shared that Hanbin debuted in ZEROBASEONE through the show Boys Planet and is the same age as Jiwoo, and it seemed hypocritical.

In an industry where netizens continue to share concerns about idols debuting so young, the fact that a talented trainee didn’t debut because she was deemed too “old” showcases an ongoing issue within K-Pop.

You can read more about netizens’ reactions to Jiwoo not debuting below.

A Shocking “R U Next?” Elimination Confirms Fans’ Worst Fears

Source: Nate Pann

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