“A grown-ass man spending money to meet a 14-year-old doesn’t sit right…”
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It seems as if the issue surrounding underage idols debuting has become one of the hottest topics in K-Pop, especially after the newest girl group NewJeans, under HYBE‘s sublabel ADOR, debuted. Netizens have raised concerns about how the impact the industry can have on those so young.
Like all girl groups, NewJeans has been performing and promoting their recent album. After some controversies in the initial videos, the members have been praised for their more appropriate outfits.
Alongside their promotions, NewJeans are also doing fansigns both online and offline to interact with the fans that are supporting them. Unsurprisingly, the newest idols gained attention for their visuals and charm throughout the events.
However, one tweet from a user gained attention after an image spread of someone at the event. In the image, a man was sitting in front of member Minji and interacting like any other fan at this kind of event.
Yet, the image instantly went viral amongst both Korean and international netizens.
Many explained that while it looked innocent, it seemed odd that a grown man was spending a lot of money to attend an event to meet a 14-year-old idol.
Others explained that it shouldn’t be something confined to NewJeans and male fans and the tweet was making negative generalizations. They pointed out that many older female fans attend male group fan events, many with minors, and the double standards between genders.
Although many focused on the wrongdoing of the fans’ actions, more targeted the problems with the industry itself.
Rather than believing that fans over a certain age shouldn’t attend fansigns or that there should be an age restriction, it should recognize that idols shouldn’t be debuting so young in the first place. In most cases, fans have pure intentions when meeting their favorite idols, and a few instances shouldn’t impact everyone.
In an industry that is so sexualized, netizens said it was inevitable that they would find it uncomfortable seeing a grown adult interacting with such a young idol. Yet, whether the blame should be on the fans or the company is being debated.