The Problems Young K-Pop Idols Deal With

Having to deal with hate comments and media pressure are just two of the problems that K-Pop idols face at such a young age. Problems that most people their age do not encounter. Converting a naive 14-year-old into a global pop superstar is a common practice in the Korean pop industry. Some K-Pop legends who entered the stage at the age of 14 or 15 include BoA, SHINee’s Taemin, and f(x)’s Krystal. This tradition appears to have remained unchanged as the K-Pop genre grew into a global phenomenon.

The fourth generation groups saw the debut of a 2007 liner, Leeseo of girl group IVE, who became the youngest idol to make her mainstream K-pop debut. New Jeans, who debuted at number one in Melon with their debut song, included a 14-year-old member. Members of boy bands are not exempt from this. Jongseob of P1Harmony and Niki of Enhypen was 14 years old when they debuted in 2021. Many fans actually appreciate the fact that young Korean male idols still have enough time to become global superstars before being drafted into the military.

Enhypen comeback group teaser
Credits: BELIFT LAB Inc.

Many netizens raised their eyebrows, expressing their displeasure on social media, particularly during the debut of ADOR’s New Jeans. Aside from the high expectations that had to be met, they are concerned about the “sexualization” of the members on social media. Many netizens have advised other users to exercise caution when commenting on members or making inappropriate edits.

In an interview with ADOR CEO Min Hee Jin, she revealed that she has a strong bond with the girls and their parents. She stated that she is responsible for them as a “parent” by inviting them to her home every weekend. Min is aware of the problems that can arise when idols make their debut at a young age and revealed that as this became more common, she wanted to be involved to ensure they were treated well.

In an article published by Korea JoongAng Daily, Lim Myung-ho, a psychology professor at Dankook University who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry, shared the possible outcomes of making a teenager an idol. “Young teenagers who want to be K-pop idols or hopefuls basically engage in solitary group instruction,”

“The isolation and lack of peer connection will undoubtedly have an impact on a child’s psychological growth and adult coping skills. Even if they become famous, there is a good chance that they won’t be able to control their emotions or remain calm under pressure. They might also be deeply affected by hateful remarks, struggling to cope, and engaging in self-destructive conduct, as we’ve seen with many celebrities. The lack of sociability is a more serious problem than missing school.” He added that the sudden change of trends among the young girl group members caused them to “present an overly mature or even sexualized image that doesn’t suit their age.”

Experts suggest having the management agencies a support system for their young artists’ socialization and mental health. For the idols’ longevity.

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