Behold GP Basic, Korea’s newest (and youngest, with an average age of 15 years old) idol group. See the little one? Yeah, she was born in 1998, which would make her my little sister’s age.
I’m actually not particularly fazed by anything in this video, probably because I live in the Philippines, where a sketch comedy show featuring an all-child cast (and one grown man with dwarfism – ah Filipino humor, how crude can you get?) is one of the most watched programs on local television, and a child’s ability to giling (closest translation would be ‘grinding,’ I suppose) is an indicator of precociousness. Truth be told, compared to the sort of thing I have to witness here, what GP Basic is doing is actually pretty harmless. They’re dressed age-appropriately (no mini-skirts or high heels for these young’uns!) and while I wish that their choreographers would have taken the chest pops and hip thrusts out altogether (just because I’m used to it doesn’t make it any less weird), they’re not exactly doing anything overtly sexual.
Performing is no issue with me actually (as long as they keep their material and concepts age appropriate, obviously, which doesn’t seem to be a problem at the moment, and you can’t argue that their age immediately puts them at the bottom of the pack because their debut stage was actually not as bad as it could have been – Nine Muses, I’m looking at you) but I am bothered by the fact that the girls are being treated as commodities this early in their lives. Let’s face it: the K-pop industry is so not about having all your dreams come true. It looks all sunshiny and aegyo-y at first glance but it’s first and foremost a business. Companies like getting younger trainees because the younger the talents are, the longer they can be kept in the company, the more they can possibly be exploited, et cetera. The Korean judiciary recently cracked down on slave contracts (too little, too late for some artists) but let’s not forget that kids who get exposed to the fame game early usually tend to get a little bit damaged. Macaulay Culkin and Michael Jackson, anyone? Or for a more contemporary example, the Cyrus family?
The little girl’s got potential but I’m just hoping that the girls have good heads on their shoulders, and parents who know when and where to draw the line.