The anti-China wave, which occurred due to the controversial short track speed skating match at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, is said to have a significant impact on the idol-centered music industry.
Ning Ning, a member of girl group aespa, said on the private message platform “Dear U Bubble” on February 5th, “Wow, I’m so happy that (China) got the first gold medal tonight”, adding, “My homeroom teacher just informed me that the two Olympics winners are our school’s alumni. This is such an honor. Each and every athlete deserves respect.”
Ning Ning’s post had no relation to the biased judgment in the men’s 1000m short track speed skating semifinals on February 7th, but the gold medal she congratulated on was controversial. It is said that the gold medal was won thanks to bias from the referee in the semifinal of the 2000m short track mixed relay. In particular, Ning Ning’s message was posted less than a day after the Korean team players were disadvantaged by biased judgment, so it was like pouring oil into a house on fire.
Similar to aespa, there are some cases in which remarks, articles, and actions of Chinese members affect the entire group. In addition to China’s recent behavior of attempting historical and cultural processes, the anti-China wave is also spreading to the music industry as wars of words with Chinese netizens have occurred more frequently online.
Earlier, Chinese members of EXO, WJSN and f(x) caused controversies as they only focused on their activities in China after gaining popularity in Korea. Some Chinese idols unilaterally terminated contracts with their agencies, causing them to be embroiled in long-term legal disputes.
In addition, in 2020, Chinese idols described the 6.25 War as the “Resist America and Assist Worker’s Party of North Korea” War and interpreted one of the biggest tragedies of Korean people in their own sense, which became a problem. EVERGLOW Wang Yiren got praised by Chinese netizens for greeting in Chinese style instead of making the New Year’s bow during a fanmeeting in Korea.
In addition to these cases, some Chinese idols expressed different opinions or stayed silent on things that have emerged as global issues, such as the Hong Kong protests, but sent congratulatory messages on the Chinese government’s anniversary. As a result, more fundamental questions are being raised among fans, like “Do KPOP groups really need Chinese members?”.
Then, why do 2022 KPOP idol groups need Chinese members? A KPOP official revealed, “It is because of the Chinese market, which will definitely open again someday”.
The official said, “In the 1990s, the music industry also earned a great amount by entering China and Southeast Asian markets. China is also a market that cannot be ignored in the music industry in the 2020s. However, since the Chinese market was closed due to the THAAD issue, the KPOP industry also changed its constitution by realizing that ‘we cannot only look at China’. It was around that time that KPOP turned to the U.S and Europe markets in earnest.”
Then, the official explained, “However, it is necessary to think about whether China is a market that clearly exists but can be ignored. And there are also companies that are invested and operated by Chinese capital investment. In this regard, it is clear that having Chinese members may not be essential but it is still a beneficial ‘card’”.
However, the entertainment industry and the music industry work thoroughly due to public preferences. Even if Chinese idols have no choice but to express their patriotism, would it be possible for them to not go against the emotions of Korean fans?
Regarding this question, another KPOP official said, “You can understand their remarks only by looking at various factors, such as the Chinese government, local Chinese fans, and Chinese members themselves. It is already the duty of Chinese members to send specific messages in certain events. If they violated this, they would naturally be called “betrayers” by Chinese fans”, adding, “As a result, Chinese members face the situation in which they have to choose between Korean fans and Chinese fans. This is definitely one of the worries of being an idol from China.”