When it comes to the world of K-Pop, one of the biggest issues surrounding the industry has been the topic of age. It seems as if idols are debuting younger and younger, and it’s raised concerns about the safety and well-being of idols.
In particular, the topic again has been raised after HYBE‘s sublabel ADOR announced the debut of their newest girl group, NewJeans.
When more information started being released about the members, there was one aspect that unsurprisingly caused concerns, and it was the members’ ages.
The two oldest members of the group are Hanni and Minji, both of whom were born in 2004. Danielle was born in 2005, and Haerin was born in 2006, which makes the two latter members still minors…
Yet, if that wasn’t bad enough for many, it was seeing the age of the youngest member Hyein that shocked them. According to sources and past work from the idol, Hyein was born in 2008, which makes her 14 years old in the international age system.
When the members’ ages were announced, netizens raised their concerns about the ages of the members, especially Hyein. Many expressed their concerns about such young girls suddenly being thrown into the world of K-Pop. It is an industry where the schedules are tough, the expectations are harsh, and the members will be scrutinized for everything they do.
putting a 08 liner with a group of 17-18 year olds together in a group is such a weird move …. as if 17-18 isn’t already young enough to debut into an insanely high pressured entertainment industry
— ✧ (@mixiaoz) July 21, 2022
While many idols have debuted young in the past, many netizens raised concerns that it seems to be becoming more and more common.
They also shared their worries about the “sexualization” of the members, especially when it comes to social media. Many netizens have asked other users to be wary when it comes to commenting on the members or creating edits that would not be appropriate.
are y’all okay… like mentally pic.twitter.com/dCWKBfKWmg
— alex 🤓 (@nugumix) July 23, 2022
Others shared that the stigma against idols debuting at an older age has created a culture where debuting idols young is deemed more “normal.” SM rookie Shohei gained criticism after it was revealed he was born in 1996, and many deemed him “too old” to be a rookie, and even more so to be making his debut.
The reason that netizens have mixed feelings about the issue rather than the solely negative stance seen by many groups comes down to the ADOR’s CEO Min Hee Jin, who is managing the group.
When the ages were announced, many netizens praised the styling and concept of the video, which was fresh, youthful, and seemed appropriate for the young members, especially Hyein.
Others have brought back comments made by Min Hee Jin, which have reassured them that the young idols are being taken care of. In an interview that has resurfaced, Min Hee Jin revealed that she has a strong bond with the members and their parents.
As she is a similar age to the members’ parents, she feels a responsibility to take care of them and would even act like a “parent” when getting close to the group by inviting them to her house every weekend.
She also seemed aware of the issues that could arise with idols debuting young and revealed that as it was more common, she wanted to be involved to ensure they were treated well.
Our girls are already making an incredible effort even though no one is pushing them. And yet, they are still constantly worried about not being good enough. The primary purpose of our field is to entertain. It did not start with breaking records or measuring performance by numbers in mind. What I truly want is to foster an environment where everyone can do their best while having fun. If it is not fun, there is no point.
— Min Hee Jin
Although the idea of a 14-year-old debuting is still concerning to netizens due to not only the pressures and expectations but also the possibility of “sexualization,” many hope that Min Hee Jin’s influence can help.
Min Hee Jin seems to understand the issues the members might face, and her “maternal” role could be key to ensuring the members have a much more positive experience in the industry.
You can read more about the members below.