NewJeans embroiled in controversy over “J-Pop group” classification “BTS’s English song = K-Pop” VS “K-J distinction meaningless”

Girl group NewJeans has been caught up in an unexpected controversy over being labeled as a "J-Pop group". This has led to heated debates, with many expressing disappointment

According to Ten Asia on July 5th, NewJeans‘ Japanese debut album “Supernatural”, released on June 21st, has been classified as “J-Pop” on major music sites like Apple Music and Vibe. This classification was confirmed to be at the request of NewJeans’ agency ADOR.

Fans have been debating the classification of the new album as J-Pop, particularly since NewJeans is considered a representative K-Pop group.


Fans expressing disappointment point out that even though the album was released for the Japanese market, it is an original album with a high proportion of Korean lyrics. They also recall that BTS’s “Dynamite”, which has entirely English lyrics, was classified as K-Pop.

The critics argue that even though it is a Japanese debut album, since the music is available worldwide, classifying it as J-Pop weakens the group’s identity as a K-Pop group. They suggest that it could lead to confusion among listeners who might mistakenly think NewJeans’ new songs are Japanese music. From the perspective of cultural sovereignty and enhancing the K-Pop brand, they find the decision regrettable.

On the other hand, some believe that in the current music market, where national boundaries are blurring and genre distinctions are becoming less significant, classifying the album as J-Pop is not a major issue. They argue that NewJeans targeted the Japanese market with this album and used a localization strategy to ensure success. This means choosing the most effective strategy for export, which in this case was labeling it as J-Pop.

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NewJeans’ agency ADOR defended their decision on similar grounds. They stated, “The album was released as a Japanese record for Japanese music activities, and we chose global distribution to make it more accessible to fans. In today’s environment, where media development allows diverse distribution and rapid content dissemination, we believe distinguishing between J-Pop and K-Pop genres is meaningless.”

However, the music industry also expressed disappointment. One industry insider said, “Considering the members, music and style, shouldn’t it be classified as K-Pop? Aside from Hanni, 4 members are Korean or of Korean descent, and the music and style often remind us of the Korean music scene of the 90s. I thought NewJeans’ music, style and music videos inherited and developed 90s K-Pop trends to fit current ones. It’s disappointing to see it labeled as J-Pop.”

Ten Asia
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