NewJeans, “Hurt”, and the Min Hee Jin discourse

I was going to include the latest NewJeans release “Hurt” in the Rundown, as I found it to be their least compelling release thus far. Though I did note that the rollout of their overarching concept and musical identity continued to be effective.

Obviously, days later I realized that the discourse in that comment section would be completely overwhelmed with reactions to what has transpired since, so I decided to give them their separate post.

Alright, so basically from what I’ve seen the controversy is two-fold, both a criticism of Min Hee Jin personally and also that of companies debuting minors as idols.

The focus on Min Hee Jin has popped up as netizens began to dig into her history and started to either accuse her of being a pedophile or at least that she idealized pedophilic aesthetics (1/2/3/4). Combine all of that with the music video you see above, and it becomes an understandable connection, as even prior to any of this emerging I had noted in the Rundown draft that it was “bizarrely suggestive and borderline voyeuristic for a group with minors, including one that’s really barely a teenager“. Well, I guess people felt similar. Of course, given how society is setup with regards to worshipping youth and Min Hee Jin likely being exposed to that herself, I think how she got to this point is likely more nuanced than people will be willing to consider, but at the end of the day the problem is less just what she chooses to watch and more her using actual teenagers to express these experiences in her art. At the very least it’s worth calling out and thinking critically about.

As far as idols in K-pop debuting as minors, I have no problem with anybody who takes a stand against it. It’s an understandable position and everything would likely be ethically better off if that was put into regulations (it would take that to change anything, IMO) for a variety of reasons (work conditions, sexualization, mental health, etc). That said, I do also agree with those pushing back against singling out NewJeans, as if you’re going to boycott them, then you should apply that across the spectrum of at least K-pop. While some people seem to be criticizing this aspect of K-pop with NewJeans specifically in mind, they are simply kidding themselves if they think this is like the one problematic group with minors in it and that all companies don’t have similar processes or motivations in debuting young women (and men) in the manner they do. So calls to get companies to stop this practice is something worth supporting, but I question just how willing people actually are to do anything, and seeing a lot of the outrage focusing on one group or company is part of what leads to a lack of any bigger change at the end of the day.

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So those are my thoughts, but really though I just wanted to provide people with a place to discuss this openly since some were asking for it.

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