Well, to tell you the truth, this “issue” needs some unpacking and a little bit of context before diving into it.
So, what most K-pop fans know (and make fun of others for) is that K-pop fans can be of any age, but typically, the ones who are predominantly online (on any social media) are between the ages of 13 and possibly up to 30 or more.
However, at the same time, the ones that are more active in anything fandom-related are the younger ones, while the older ones are usually just on the side, quietly supporting their faves. In the K-Pop fandom community, there’s almost always a certain problem lurking on the sidelines when it comes to stanning the currently popular K-Pop idol groups.
It’s concerning their ages—while K-Pop stans and appreciators continue to grow older, the K-Pop idol industry continues to debut younger idols into the scene. Hence the question, “is it right to stan younger K-Pop idols when you’re a certain age?”
A prime example of this is actually NewJeans. With NewJeans’ youngest member Hyein being only 15 years old and all the group’s members being in their teens, some fans find it weird when a person in their 20s or 30s stan the group and like their songs, and even “call them out” as weirdos and predators just for that reason.
Earlier this month, an admin of a certain Facebook page initiated a discussion after noticing that some fans were labeling individuals aged 30 and older, who also idolize the K-pop girl group NewJeans, as “predators.” The admin then asked their followers about their sentiments regarding this matter.
While a part of that perspective is sort of right, considering the number of cases in the K-Pop community where some idols get sexualized on the get-go while they were still minors is high (Taemin from SHINee was one), there’s still one part that needs considering—just because older people are fans of groups that debuted in the 4th and 5th generation of K-Pop, doesn’t mean they’re in it for their physical appearances.
Yeah sure, K-Pop is famous for incorporating visual concepts into the production of their music releases, and that’s obviously the first thing that most people see about K-Pop. But not all K-Pop fans are fans because of how the idols look—it’s for the music.
Fans don’t just stay fans because of how the idols look or act, but for the kind of music they release. It’s quite superficial, to say the least, that “fans” nowadays always believe that people start becoming fans and remain as fans purely for the looks.
Also, another thing to note is that there is an incredibly fine line between admiring and appreciating K-pop idols in general versus liking them with some kind of intent. What does this mean?
Well, to say it plainly, people, regardless of their age, are allowed to like and appreciate K-Pop idols and the music they release, while still being mindful of the ages of these K-Pop idols. Again, people don’t just like these idols mainly for their looks. People can make connections with the sound and the feel of the music these idols put out.
So what if people are older than the stereotypical K-Pop fan age? Music is music, and people can like whatever kind of music they want. There’s nothing bad about that, and it’s just wholesome that way.
But, whenever someone starts commenting malicious things about and towards these idols, especially towards minors, that’s when that line is crossed. You probably all know what we’re pointing out here.
So the bottom line for this one is, dude. Let people, regardless of their age like things that they want to. It’s not always a problem whenever someone likes K-Pop when they’re older; well actually there’s nothing wrong about it. At the same time, it’s quite low for someone to call another a “predator” or a “ped0phile” when they’re just there appreciating the music.
But, of course, nobody is wrong for pointing this sensibility out—it can feel a little bit uncomfortable when someone points out the ages within 4th and 5th-generation K-Pop groups. But the one that’s ultimately at fault here is the K-Pop industry for capitalizing and normalizing putting minors to work and ignoring older trainees merely for their age.
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