The debut of HYBE’s first girl group LE SSERAFIM is arousing keen attention and expectations. However, controversies surrounding the girls recently also raised concerns.
There is a high possibility that LE SSERAFIM will not fail. With the current momentum, seems like it is only a matter of time until they make their name known in the entertainment industry as a representative girl group of the 4th generation after debut. However, they still have such a high mountain to climb. This is a discussion about LE SSERAFIM, the first girl group formed by the collaboration of HYBE and Source Music.
How could LE SSERAFIM get on a safe route?
LE SSERAFIM is the first girl group launched jointly by HYBE and its subsidiary label Source Music. With Kim Chae-won, a member of IZ*ONE together with Sakura Miyawaki, moving to Source Music from Woollim Entertainment and joining the girl group’s lineup, HYBE intended to secure the group’s position quickly and safely amidst the fierce competition of 4th generation girl groups.
Some criticized LE SSERAFIM as the “second IZ*ONE”, but as a result, HYBE’s strategy was effective. LE SSERAFIM with the participation of Sakura and Kim Chae-won has already succeeded in securing their explosive popularity and high recognition even before their debut. In addition, Kim Ga-ram, Kazuha, Huh Yun-jin and Hong Eun-chae, who were introduced one after another, also strengthen LE SSERAFIM’s power by impressing global fans with their youthful and fresh visuals.
The fact that this is the first girl group to be launched by HYBE, in collaboration with Source Music, was enough to raise K-pop fans’ expectations for the girls. HYBE also provided generous support for LE SSERAFIM’s debut. The news that Chairman Bang Si-hyuk, who created BTS and helped them grow into global pop stars, became the executive producer and creative director Kim Sung-hyun would be in charge of visual directing of LE SSERAFIM’s debut project has revealed HYBE’s expectations for the girl group and their strong will for a successful debut. In order words, HYBE is going to let the girls start their journey as a “golden spoon” girl group.
Considering that TXT and Enhypen, other boy groups launched by HYBE earlier, have established themselves as famous stars in the global music market beyond “BTS Benefit” since their debuts and gained significant achievements, HYBE’s first girl group LE SSERAFIM is expected to follow similar footsteps.
100% success? Expectations are enough to be such a great concern
At this point, it seems that LE SSERAFIM has already been given the pass to become a representative girl group of K-pop’s 4th generation. However, their future will not be filled with pink color. It is because of the controversies that have been raised since the members and their profiles were introduced.
Leader Kim Chae-won encountered unexpected negative public opinion after her debut teaser was released. The reason was that her revealing outfit and fashion were pointed out as encouraging sexual objectification.
In the teaser content, Kim Chae-won drew attention as she transformed herself with a new image, which was 180 degrees different from her appearance when she was active as a member of IZ*ONE. Of course, it is normal to see idols pursuing changes that are different from their concepts in the past. However, the problem was her excessive use of revealing outfits.
In particular, Kim Chae-won was criticized for her shocking revealing concept since she did catwalk while wearing a bra top and mesh stockings as well as raising her skirt and exposing her legs while her dress already revealed her shoulder and chest lines. In another teaser video, Kim Chae-won became the center of attention as she showed up with the “under boob” fashion.
Kim Chae-won is 21 years old this year. Since she’s an adult, there is no serious problem with wearing revealing clothes. However, it is said that she didn’t need to take excessive exposure to change her image. Amidst the public’s criticism over excessive outfits that are considered a promotion of sexual commercialization and sexual objectification, the rage of fans is also continuing.
The controversy surrounding Kim Ga-ram’s past was raised right after she was introduced as a member of LE SSERAFIM. She was swept up in school bullying allegations, one of the worst types of scandals idols could get involved in.
Specifically, Kim Ga-ram’s alleged school violence was first posted by netizen A on an online community and spread quickly afterwards. The evidence was a screenshot of a conversation containing inappropriate language, saying it was a message sent by Kim Ga-ram to an acquaintance. Along with this, another post accusing Kim Ga-ram of bullying was shared by another netizen claiming to be her former classmate. Due to these allegations, Kim Ga-ram found herself in hot water before her official debut.
In response, HYBE quickly issued a statement and said that such allegations against Kim Ga-ram were “groundless.” HYBE clarified that the alleged school violence was malicious slander through editing, and Kim Ga-ram was actually a victim of malicious rumors and cyberbullying when she was in middle school.
However, since then, more netizens claiming to be Kim Ga-ram’s ex-classmates have spoken up and released past photos of hers, blowing up the controversy. In particular, shocking photos show Kim Ga-ram describing an explicit sexual expression with her hand and posing with friends in front of a blackboard with obscene imageries drawn on it.
Further posts exposing Kim Ga-ram’s past behaviors have overshadowed HYBE’s denial. Despite many requests from netizens to kick Kim Ga-ram out of the group, HYBE is still firmly pushing ahead with Kim Ga-ram’s debut without making any further statement and also taking legal actions against her accusers.
Sakura, one of the core members of LE SSERAFIM, can’t stay out of controversy either. The former member of Japanese girl group AKB48 was caught up in a right-wing controversy even before her participation in Mnet’s “Produce 48.” During her promotions in Japan, she performed, filmed promotions for the Self-Defense Forces, and participated in concerts that beautify war criminals, causing her to draw antipathy and criticism from Korean fans. After IZ*ONE disbanded, Sakura was once again embroiled in controversy as it was pointed out that she was part of a performance mocking Korean fans at the HKT48’s concert held in Japan.
On March 1st, a photo of a billboard subway advertisement done by Sakura’s Chinese fans to celebrate her birthday sparked a fierce controversy. What was problematic was a design reminiscent of the Rising Sun Flag that appeared in the background of Sakura’s photo in the advertisement. The fact that an advertisement for the birthday of a Japanese idol with the Rising Sun Flag design was put up in Korea, caused Korean netizens’ blood to boil. Eventually, the situation was settled when the fan who installed the billboard took it down.
Of course, it is unfair to blame Sakura for the controversy over the subway ad. However, it is hard to deny that Sakura was once again put in a negative light in Korea ahead of her re-debut due to such a controversy. In particular, the label of “right-wing” is expected to continue to stick to Sakura even after her debut in LE SSERAFIM, because she has not addressed the right-wing controversy that has erupted since IZ*ONE promotions.
While K-pop’s status in the global music market is increasing day by day, the birth of another 4th generation representative girl group is certainly gaining much anticipation. Nevertheless, the reason why many netizens can’t just wholeheartedly look forward to LE SSERAFIM’s debut is probably due to the lack of clear explanations for the controversies that have arisen so far.
LE SSERAFIM’s debut scheduled for May 5th is about two weeks away. Perhaps two weeks are enough time for the group to shake off the negative opinions and concerns surrounding them to have a strong start.